Senior Spotlight: Jahrane Dale, Neuroengineer + Entrepreneur

For Jahrane Dale, who has always loved building things, Columbia was his first and only choice. He wanted to ground his STEM endeavors “in a human context,” he says, with the arts and humanities helping round out his approach.

At the Engineering School, Dale was immediately drawn to biomedical engineering and the development of novel solutions to better understand, preserve, and treat the human body. Working closely with mentors including Senior Lecturers Aaron Kyle and David Vallancourt, he delved into hot topics including biosignals and bioinstrumentation, while Professor Steve Blank’s winter Lean Launchpad course helped spark his inner entrepreneur.

This year, Dale has been collaborating with three fellow classmates on cerVIA, a senior design project aimed at providing automated, accurate, and accessible cervical cancer screening in low-resource settings using image processing techniques. Their work nabbed a big win recently, scoring second place in Columbia Venture Competition’s undergraduate challenge. Working on cerVIA has helped Dale encompass nearly every aspect of what it takes to create a startup, from research and design to figuring out how to market, manufacture, and distribute the product.

In addition to cultivating his entrepreneurial side at SEAS, Dale is big on volunteerism.

Aiming to pay it forward to underserved communities, Dale has volunteered extensively with the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center in Harlem. On campus he has served for several years as a group leader for SEAS’ Multicultural Recruitment Committee’s Columbia Engineering Experience (EC^2) program, which brings high school seniors on free trips to campus for three days of immersive STEM orientation. This program also inspired Dale to apply to SEAS as a high school senior.

“Having myself been so influenced by the EC^2 program, I wanted to give back in any way possible,” he says. “The support they give can make the difference between someone holding themselves back or having the courage and confidence to pursue their potential.”

After graduation, Dale will conduct research at NYU’s Langone Medical Center on the neurological basis of pain perception. He then plans to attend graduate school to study neural engineering, with the aim to develop neural implants, brain-machine interfaces and neurostimulators to improve prosthetics, including perhaps one day a fully functional artificial eye.

He credits Columbia Engineering for the chance to explore disciplines and the opportunity to really home in on what interested him the most.

“At Columbia you have a lot of freedom to do as you please, choosing your own focus and goals and relying on your own independent discipline and direction,” Dale says. “It’s a great place to learn how to be an adult before you find yourself in the real world.”

—by Jesse Adams

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