Jed Dale: A Family Passion for Geography

A passion for geography and the geospatial sciences inspired by grandparents who served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Jed Dale won a USGIF Scholarship in 2014 as a high school student. He is now a student at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Geospatial intelligence runs in my blood,” said 18-year-old Jed Dale, who earned a 2014 USGIF scholarship as a graduating high school senior.

Dale attributes his passion for geography and the geospatial sciences to his great grandfather, who worked as a World War II intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Army Map Service, his grandfather, who served as a colonel with USACE, and growing up reading the global electronic warfare and SIGINT publication Journal of Electronic Defense.

Dale has lived on Long Island’s barrier beach his entire life, often dedicating time to volunteer cleanup and environmental efforts to help conserve the region. This experience with the environment and geography sparked his interest in studying earth sciences at Babylon Junior-Senior High School in Babylon, N.Y.

Though his school only offered standard science courses, Dale expanded his education by attending classes elsewhere, including a homeland security course in Washington, D.C., an ocean engineering course through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sea Grant college program, and a physics course at Michigan State University.

“I saw summer programs and opportunities as a chance to tailor my education as I saw fit,” Dale said. “I also enjoyed expanding my horizons since these programs brought me into close contact with people from around the world.”

This summer, Dale interned at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s (BNL) Nonproliferation and National Security Department, which carries out research and development to build prototype systems for U.S. government initiatives in nuclear materials safeguards and security. At BNL, he worked to develop a weeklong course on nuclear nonproliferation for high school students. During this process, Dale had the opportunity to interact with department employees and learn about their areas of expertise, which ranged from radiation detectors to international safeguards.

“Jed is a true scientist, constantly looking at the world around him, asking questions, and trying to find solutions to problems that he sees,” said Claire Birone, research coordinator at Babylon Junior-Senior High School, in Dale’s recommendation letter for the USGIF scholarship application. “Jed is the type of student that makes me excited about teaching science, because he is always drawing from his prior knowledge to ask extremely intelligent questions.”

Now, as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Dale is pursuing an undergraduate degree in earth sciences, and plans to continue to the graduate level.

Photo Credit: BNL

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