Faculty Directory

Smela, Elisabeth

Smela, Elisabeth

Mechanical Engineering
The Institute for Systems Research
Materials Science and Engineering
Maryland Robotics Center
Electrical and Computer Engineering
2112 Glenn L. Martin Hall


Research Scientist, Linköping University, Sweden
Senior Scientist, Risø National Laboratory, Denmark
Vice President of Research and Development, Santa Fe Science and Technology, Inc. (SFST), New Mexico
University of Maryland since 2000


Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
B.S., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Honors and awards

NSF Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), 2004
(converted from NSF CAREER for "Development of Advanced MEMS Actuator Technology for Microrobotics," 2003)

Outstanding Invention of 2004, Office of Technology Commercialization, UMD
for cell sensor-based pathogen detection

E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty, UMD, 2004

DuPont Young Professor Award, 2003

Danish Research Councils Talent Project award, 1998

NSF Fellow, Summer Institute in Japan, 1991


Dr. Smela's research is primarily in the field of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), particularly polymer MEMS and bioMEMS. She focuses on the use of organic materials (from polymers to cells) in microsystems to realize microactuators, cell-based sensors, and CMOS/MEMS integrated systems.

Stretchable, soft sensing skins for robots

Such skins could equip soft robots with integrated sensing and estimation.

Spread Hope: The "Smart Bra"

The "smart bra" is a low-cost wearable device that could conceivably detect breast cancer early enough for treatment.

Real-time imaging platform for lab-on-CMOS biosensor systems

Pamela Abshire, Elisabeth Smela and their students developed a platform that generates high-quality images of lab-on-CMOS systems in cell culture environments

Behtash Babadi wins Clark School teaching award for junior faculty

The Clark School annually presents the E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty at its winter commencement.

Alum Marc Dandin Appointed to Carnegie Mellon Faculty

Dandin was appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Elisabeth Smela one of five honored with Campus Women of Influence Award

Recipients have contributed to improving the quality of women's lives.

Maryland Robotics Center launches a new postdoctoral fellowship program

The program will foster multidisciplinary collaborations among Maryland Robotics Center faculty.

Salamanca-Riba Appointed 2017/2018 UMD ADVANCE Professor 

Dr. Salamanca-Riba will help facilitate opportunities for advancement among University faculty members, especially under-represented groups.

ISR faculty leading bio-inspired robotics and transportation electrification REUs

NSF's REU program provides undergraduate students with hands-on exposure to scientific research.

Khaligh wins Clark School junior faculty teaching award

Khaligh will receive the E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty at winter commencement.

University of Maryland, College Park & Baltimore Campuses Announce Seed Grant Winners

Program, now in eight year, spurs inter-campus research collaboration

Elisabeth Smela named ADVANCE Professor

She joins the ranks of five other ISR faculty associated with the ADVANCE program.

Students present final projects for 2014 NSF Microrobotics REU

Research ranged from robotic skin to leg designs, inertial tail actuators, and more.

Derek Paley wins PECASE Award

ISR/AE faculty member has research interests in dynamics and control.

Sarah Bergbreiter wins PECASE Award

ISR/ME faculty member specializes in microrobotics.

ECE Ph.D. student Timir Datta wins Graduate All-S.T.A.R. Fellowship

The fellowship honors scholarship, teaching, administration and research.

Bruck, Smela, Yu receive NSF grant for compliant multifunctional robotic structures

National Robotics Initiative grant will develop a robotic 'nervous system.'

Miniature Robotics REU students give final presentations

Ten undergrads from around the country give talks on their summer projects.

Five additions to faculty

ISR welcomes four new joint appointments and one new affiliate faculty member.

Antbot research profiled in Pacific Standard magazine

Article explores potential of antbots in search and rescue operations

ISR organizes NSF Workshop on Micro, Nano, Biosystems

Event is held March 30-31 in Arlington, Va.

Six ISR grad students in Clark School Future Faculty Program

Program helps students prepare for academic careers in top-50 engineering schools.

Pamela Abshire wins Kent Teaching Award

Chosen for engaged teaching, curriculum development and advising student research.

International partnership agreement being finalized

International relationship will include research and education components.

Ching Teo and Yezhou Yang win in Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship competition

Teo is advised by ISR affiliate faculty member Yiannis Aloimonos.

ISR faculty earn promotions

Sennur Ulukus, Elisabeth Smela, Min Wu and Bruce Jacob promoted to Full Professor.

Nuno Martins promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Dr. Martins' research interests are in control theory, estimation and information theory.

ISR students Datta, Teo are part of finalist teams in Qualcomm competition

Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship competition recognizes outstanding Ph.D. students.

ISR's busy November: NSF site visit, 25th anniversary dinner, SAC meeting

The Institute for Systems Research held three major events from Nov. 17–19.

Martins, Somasundaram, Frazier win awards at ISR's annual ceremony

Congratulations to our outstanding faculty, graduate student and staff member!

Six Clark School faculty become affiliates of ISR

ISR welcomes Desai, Humbert, Jacob, Paley, Qu and Smela.

Martins, Abshire, Smela, Bergbreiter win $1.5 million NSF grant

The team will develop self-organizing ant-sized microrobots.

Cell-based sensors featured in The Scientist

Cross-disciplinary work of Abshire, Smela, Shapiro is highlighted.

Shapiro, Smela are issued U.S. Patent 7,523,608

Clark School faculty members invent electrically driven microfluidic pumping for actuation.

Clark School Researchers Collaborate on New Cell-Based Sensors

New bio-sensors could speed up and improve the detection of pathogens, explosives.

Abshire, Shapiro, Smela part of biosensor grant

Researchers are partnering with IBI, graduate of university's TAP program.

New Scientist highlights cell sensor research

Work of Shapiro, Abshire, Smela improves pathogen detection.

Micro-Fluidic Pumping (ISR IP)

This IP is available to license.

Cell Canary (ISR IP)

This IP is available to license.

Abshire is PI for NSF grant on cell-based sensing

ECE/ISR assistant professor will research integrated transduction, actuation and control

ISR faculty win two Invention of the Year awards

Faculty recognized in information science and physical science categories

Gupta, Ghodssi, Shapiro part of $3 million micro air vehicles MURI

April 2004—ISR faculty will be working on "Micro Hovering Air Vehicles: Revolutionary Concepts and Navigation Advancements"

Temporary Clark School clean room opens

Room meets urgent need for enhanced fabrication capabilities.

Ghodssi, Rubloff, Smela awarded DURIP for chemical mechanical planarizer

Tool used in semiconductor fabrication, microelectronics, optoelectronics and MEMS

Ghodssi, DeVoe awarded MRI for MEMS aligner/bonder

Grant to fund state-of-the-art MEMS microfabrication equipment