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Our faculty are known for their leading-edge research and expertise in their field, but you might be surprised by their hidden passions and talents—everything from playing instruments and singing to glassblowing, mountaineering, and competitive cycling.

John Baldridge, senior manager of digital marketing and communications at the College of Engineering, enjoys making connections where no obvious relationship exists. So, he was intrigued when he saw Tony Rollett, professor of materials science and engineering, playing the organ off-campus. Baldridge connected with him and learned that Rollett is not only the accomplished materials scientist the College community knows; he is also a talented concert organist who even considered pursuing the career professionally.

As a young boy in Oxford, England, Rollett developed an interest in the organ that has flourished throughout his life. To capture this interesting story and showcase Rollett’s passion for music, Baldridge and colleague David Cochran, senior video producer at the College, arranged a video shoot that initiated the popular Behind the Researcher video series.


A typical video shoot usually takes the duo and their interviewee about an hour. Baldridge works on the art direction and conducts the interview. “We try to pick an interesting venue, either on our off campus, that will help us tell the story,” he says. His favorite part of the video shoot is the interview portion. “It’s exciting to see a faculty member’s expression change and ‘light up’ as they talk about their talent.”

Cochran uses his post-production skills to pull the story together using music, b-roll, and outside video and photo assets provided by the faculty member. “Being in the visual field, and over the years doing research-based videos on our faculty, I've always noticed the personality that goes into their office space first,” said Cochran. “Whether it be a pennant, sculpture, maybe an old guitar—it really opens up new avenues of conversation and relatability. This series is inspiring just to work on, and I always walk away learning something new.

Many of our faculty members thrive at the intersection between art and science, which is something inherently special about a place like Carnegie Mellon.

John Baldridge, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing & Communications, College of Engineering

“Our faculty are not only brilliant and creative engineers,” says Donna Sturgess, chief marketing officer of the College. “They are also incredibly talented at their personal passions. The Behind the Researcher video series in an opportunity to share more about who our faculty are as people. And for many of them, their hobbies and interests inform, inspire, and enhance their work.”

The end product is a rich glimpse into the lives of our faculty members. Baldridge notes, “Many of our faculty members thrive at the intersection between art and science, which is something inherently special about a place like Carnegie Mellon.”

The Behind the Researcher video series features the myriad talents of our Engineering faculty.