Senior Spotlight: Chiara Vallini Merges Biotech and Entrepreneurship
As a child growing up in Milan, Italy, Chiara Vallini ’17 spent countless hours assembling circuits with her grandfather, an electrical engineer, and learning to work through tough problems. By the time she was in high school, she had secured a research internship in New York City. She visited the Columbia University campus that summer and fell in love with its bustling, interdisciplinary intellectual environment.
Now a student at Columbia, Vallini has combined a passion for biomedical engineering with extensive entrepreneurship, not only in researching biotech of the future but also in developing products for patients and consumers. She joined Columbia’s Res. Inc., or Residential Incubator, the interdisciplinary living community devoted to boosting entrepreneurship, and collaborated with a group of students on Med-I, a secure mobile-web app system aimed at creating effective communication between patients and clinics. For her senior design thesis, she is working with four other biomedical engineers on NoMor, an anti-tremor glove for patients. After placing second at the Fast Pitch competition at the undergraduate level last fall, the NoMor team is now building a prototype that they hope to test by year’s end.
“Columbia Engineering has definitely given me a wide range of quantitative, analytical, and interpersonal skills I’ll be able to apply on my future path, no matter what its course,” Vallini said. “Particularly from alternating among a strong engineering foundation, the breadth of the humanities courses, and the practical skills I’ve acquired getting involved with the Columbia entrepreneurial community.”
Her faculty mentors include Biomedical Engineering Professor Barclay Morrison; her senior design advisor, Senior Lecturer David Vallancourt, who teaches the Art of Engineering course and classes in electrical engineering; and Adjunct Lecturer David Sable, who directs the Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology program bridging science and business education.
During the school year, Vallini, who speaks four languages, has worked extensively with the university’s Global Recruitment Committee as an ambassador to international students. Off campus, she has interned with the Boston Consulting Group and LTP Consulting. This fall, she will start a job with the Boston Consulting Group in the company’s MedTech and BioPharma divisions. In years to come, she plans to earn her master’s degree and work in product development for medical device companies and perhaps launch her own start-up. Her long-term goal is to help deliver better care in developing nations.
“I will particularly miss the incredibly talented and diverse people I’ve met throughout my journey,” Vallini said.
—By Jesse Adams