Notable CALS Alumni

Cornell CALS alumni leave the Ag Quad ready to transform the world in ways big and small. Get to know some of our notable Cornellians.

Academic Administration

David Starr Jordan 1870
The first graduate degree Cornell awarded was an M.S. in civil botany in 1870 to David Starr Jordan, who went on to become president of Indiana University (1885 to 1891) and the first president of Stanford University. He was also a founding member of the Sierra Club.

Emil Q. Javier Ph.D. 1969
A plant geneticist and agronomist, Javier would go on to serve as the 17th president of the University of the Philippines System between 1993 and 1999.

Agriculture, Food & Plants

Frederick Vernon Coville 1887
A researcher who worked on blueberries, Coville was honorary curator of the United States National Herbarium (1893-1937), was chief botanist of the United States Department of Agriculture, and was the first director of the United States National Arboretum.

Jane Eleanor Datcher 1890
Graduating with a B.S. in botany, Datcher becomes the first African American woman in the U.S. to earn a bachelor's degree.

Vera Charles Ph.D. 1903
A mycologist and USDA expert, Charles was one of the first women to be appointed to a professional position within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mortier Barrus Ph.D. 1914 
Barrus was the U.S.'s plant pathologist, visiting nearly every state, and interpreting research in the new science of plant diseases so it could be used by farmers. He discovered the fungal cause of bean anthracnose and ways to prevent devastating crop loss.

Arthur Rose Eldred 1916 
An American agricultural and railroad industry executive, Eldred was America's first Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

John Niederhauser 1939, Ph.D. 1943
Niederhauser became internationally known as "Mr. Potato” for his contributions as a researcher, educator, leader, and cooperator in potato development programs around the world. He’s also a 1990 World Food Prize Laureate.

Robert C. Baker 1943
A Cornell University poultry science and food science professor, Baker helped develop chicken nuggets, turkey ham, and poultry hot dogs into ubiquitous American fare, and created the famous Cornell chicken barbecue sauce, which has been showcased for more than five decades at Baker's Chicken Coop at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY.

A. Colin McClung, M.S. 1949, Ph.D. 1950
McClung shares the World Food Prize with Edson Lobato and H.E. Alysson Paolinelli for their work, undertaken separately, in transforming the Cerrado – a region of vast, once infertile tropical high plains stretching across Brazil – into highly productive cropland.

Pedro Sanchez BS 1962, M.S. 1964, Ph.D. 1968
Sanchez was the pioneering developer of restorative and sustainable agricultural and environmental practices, chaired the U.N. Millennium Project Hunger Task Force, and was the winner of the 2002 World Food Prize.

Jan Low M.S. 1985, Ph.D. 1994
Low was named a 2016 World Food Prize co-laureate for her work the biofortified orange-fleshed sweet potato, which has the potential to alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

Barbara McClintock B.S. 1923, M.A. 1925, Ph.D. 1927
Winner of 1983 Nobel prize in physiology/medicine

George W. Beadle Ph.D. 1930
Co-winner of the 1958 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine

Robert W. Holley Ph.D. 1947
Co-winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine

Anna Botsford Comstock 1885
Comstock was a naturalist, a scientific illustrator and a leader in the nature study movement. The first female faculty member at Cornell, her 1911 “Handbook of Nature Study” is still in print today. In 1923, she was nominated by the National League of Women Voters as one of the twelve greatest women in the country.

Louis Agassiz Fuertes 1897
A native Ithacan, Fuertes is the nation's most notable ornithological painter after Audubon. Cornell University holds a large collection of his bird illustrations, as well as his personal papers.

Cynthia Westcott Ph.D. 1932
Westcott was a plant pathologist, author and expert on roses. She published a number of books and handbooks on horticulture and plant disease. Her work was also featured in The New York TimesHouse and Garden, and The American Home. Westcott was nicknamed "the plant doctor" after her first book of the same name.

Anne LaBastille M.S. 1955, Ph.D. 1969
Bastille was the author of more than a dozen books, including WoodswomanBeyond Black Bear Lake and Women of the Wilderness. She also wrote over 150 articles and over 25 scientific papers. She was honored by the World Wildlife Fund and the Explorers Club for her pioneering work in wildlife ecology in the United States and Guatemala.

Rhonda Cornum B.S. 1975, PhD 1980
U.S. Army pilot, flight surgeon and commander of combat hospitals; Gulf War veteran and POW; named one of the 100 most influential women in the aviation and aerospace industries by Women in Aviation, International.

Martin Feltman M.S. 1976, M.S. 1980, OVM 1980
Veterinarian and astronaut; payload specialist for Spacelab Life Sciences 2 mission

Lubna Olayan B.S. 1977
Olayan was the first woman in Saudi Arabia's history elected to the board of a publicly traded Saudi company. She has also been a spokesperson for women's rights in the Middle East.

Reggie Fils-Aimé 1983
Fils-Aimé is the former president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America. The company had record-breaking sales during his tenure from products like the Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch.

Perry Odak 1968
Odak is the former chief executive officer of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Prior to that, Odak's resume included working for Armour-Dial, Atari, Florsheim and Jovan fragrance and cosmetics.

Beth Newlands Campbell 1987
A veteran retail executive, Newlands Campbell is the president of Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, after most recently being president of Canada-based Rexall Drugstore.

Daniel Schwartz 2001
Schwartz was appointed chief executive officer of Restaurant Brands International Inc. (the parent company of the Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes brands) and a director of the company in December 2014.

William F. Friedman 1914
Friedman would complete a B.S. and some graduate work in genetics before he would go on to become one of the country's greatest code breakers. He ran the research division of the Army's Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) in the 1930s, and parts of its follow-on services into the 1950s. In 1940, his work led to the breaking of Japan's PURPLE cipher, thus disclosing Japanese diplomatic secrets before America's entrance into World War II.

David A. Williston 1898
Williston was the nation’s first African American landscape architect. After studying under Liberty Hyde Bailey, he went on to design campuses for historically black colleges and universities, like the expansion of Howard University.

Edward Lawson B.S. 1913, M.S. 1914
A winner of the prestigious Rome Prize, Lawson is also the first landscape architect to be awarded a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. After serving in the Italian Red Cross during World War I, Lawson planned military cemeteries in France, England and Belgium for the U.S. Graves Registration Service from 1920 to 1922. He was appointed assistant professor of landscape architecture at Cornell in 1922 and taught until 1940.

Ruth Shellhorn 1930-33 (BLA and BArch degrees awarded in 2005)
Shellhorn was the only woman in her class of six. She went on to design Disneyland’s comprehensive pedestrian circulation system, entrance, main street and plaza hub, creating the small-town American feeling envisioned by Walt Disney himself.

Michael Van Valkenburgh 1973
As founding principal of MVVA, Van Valkenburgh has worked on Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, the Lower Don Lands in Toronto and the Monk’s Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Van Valkenburgh has taught at Harvard since 1982.

Jane Brody 1962
Brody is the personal health columnist for The New York Times, a position she has held since 1976. Time magazine dubbed the cookbook author the “high priestess of health."

Keith Olbermann 1979
Olbermann was a sports journalist for 20 years before turning to political commentary on the MSNBC nightly newscast program "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."

Mish MichaeIs 1990
Michaels is an Emmy Award winning broadcast meteorologist and environmental reporter in Boston.

Rob Marciano 1991
Marciano is the ABC News senior meteorologist of ABC’s “World News Tonight” and the weekend edition of “Good Morning America.”

Kate Snow 1991
Snow is weekday anchor for MSNBC Live, as well as an Emmy-winning national correspondent for NBC News and anchor of NBC Nightly News, Sunday editions.

Andrew Ross Sorkin 1999
A financial columnist for The New York Times, he authored 2009's Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System -- and Themselves.

Gregory Goodwin Pincus 1924
Co-inventor of the combined oral contraceptive pill, Enovid.

Flemmie Kittrell M.S. 1930, PhD 1936 
Kittrell was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in nutrition. A graduate of Hampton Institute, Kittrell accepted a scholarship to Cornell.

Natalie Teich 1965
In 1982, Teich and her colleagues identified the v-Fos retroviral oncogene, a key gene involved in cancer. In 2012, she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for “Services to Public Health” by Prince Charles.

Scott Braunstein 1986
A former practicing physician and assistant clinical professor for Columbia University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Braunstein now works as chief executive officer of Marinus Pharmaceuticals, which offers an alternative treatment option for acute and chronic illnesses.

Jerome H. Holland B.S. 1939, M.S. 1941
The U.S. Ambassador to Sweden under President Richard Nixon, Holland was the president of Delaware State College and of Hampton Institute. Holland was the first African American to play football at Cornell, the first to be the national chairman of the American Red Cross, and the first to sit on the board of the New York Stock Exchange.

Lee Teng-hui Ph.D. 1968 
Lee was appointed mayor of Taipei in 1978, governor of Taiwan Province in 1981 and vice president in 1984. When Taiwan held its first direct presidential election in 1996, he received 54 percent of the vote.

Michael Nozzolio 1977
A former New York state senator representing the Finger Lakes region, Nozzolio was responsible for significant upgrades to the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, the establishment of the Ag Tech Park adjacent to the station, and the Finger Lakes Viticulture Center, which opened in 2015.

Svante Myrick 2009
A communication major, Myrick is the first African American mayor of Ithaca and, when first elected at 24, was the youngest mayor in New York state.

Edward Bernays 1912
Although he graduated with a degree in agriculture, Bernays--the nephew of Sigmund Freud--would go on to be known as the "father of public relations." He used his expertise in psychology to manipulate public opinion through techniques such as the press release, third-party authorities, marketing tie-ins and corporate advertising campaigns. He was named one of Life magazine's 100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century.

John Dyson 1965
Dyson was the commissioner of commerce during the creation of the tourism advertising campaign "I Love New York" by his deputy, William S. Doyle. Currently, he is the owner of Millbrook Vineyards and Winery in Millbrook, New York, Williams Selyem Winery in the Russian River Valley, California, and Villa Pillo in Tuscany, Italy.

Lorette Simon Gross 1989, M.B.A. 1990
Beginning her career at the global advertising agency D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) in both New York and Los Angeles, Simon Gross's clients included Procter & Gamble, Burger King, Kraft and Mars. She then went to work on Nestlé and Disney at Dailey & Associates.

W. Buckley Briggs 1976
Briggs is Vice President of Labor Arbitration and Litigation for the NFL Management Council.

Bryan Colangelo 1987
Colangelo was the former general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns.

Mark Tatum 1991
Currently serving as the incumbent deputy commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Tatum also currently holds the position of the NBA's chief operating officer. 

Jon Daniels 1999
The current president of baseball operations and general manager of the Texas Rangers, when hired at age 28, he was the youngest GM in Major League Baseball at the time.