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Abshire, Pamela

Pamela Abshire
2211 A.V. Williams Bldg.

Research Interests 

CMOS biosensors; adaptive integrated circuits (ICs) and IC sensors; hybrid microsystems incorporating CMOS, MEMS, optoelectronics, microfluidics, and biological components; low power mixed-signal ICs for a variety of applications, including cell-based sensing, high performance imaging, miniature robotics, spike sorting, adaptive data conversion, and closed loop control of MEMS and microfluidic systems



Pamela Abshire is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her areas of specialty are in the fields of integrated circuit design and bioengineering. Dr. Abshire's research is at the intersection of electronics and biosystems, from sensory interfaces for living systems to electronic systems with performance and behavior inspired by natural systems to better understanding of the tradeoffs between performance and resources in natural and engineered systems. She directs the Integrated Biomorphic Information Systems Laboratory. Her current research projects include:

  • “Ant-Like Micro-Robots: Fast, Small, and Under Control” a research project along with S. Bergbreiter, N. Martins, E. Smela. This project is sponsored by NSF and involves research on realizing cooperative, sub-cm3, ant-sized micro-robots that self-organize into an optimal formation, and developing the methods and technologies in the context of extreme power and size constraints. Find more information at
  • “Biologically-Inspired Low Light Image Vision Systems” a research project along with G. Barrows of Centeye, Inc.  This project is sponsored by AFOSR and involves research on biologically inspired optical sensors and vision processing techniques to allow micro air vehicles to operate under extremely low light conditions.  Find more information at
  • “Single-Chip Bio-inspired Motion Sensors for Autonomous Navigation” a research project along with S. Humbert. This project was funded by NSF. Dr. Abshire and her students have developed the first integrated, single-chip solution for autonomous navigation inspired by the insect visuomotor system. Find more information at
  • “Nose on a Chip” a research project along with E. Smela. This project was sponsored by NSF and aims to use biological olfactory cells as sensors which transduce chemical stimuli to externally-readable electrical outputs for olfactory, medical, and biochemical detection applications. Find more information at

Prior to her arrival at the University of Maryland in November 2001, she was a graduate student in the Sensory Communications and Microsystems Lab in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. She received her B.S. degree in Physics with Honor in 1992 from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. Between 1992 and 1995 she worked as a Research Engineer in the Bradycardia Research Department of Medtronic, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN. In 1995 she began her graduate education in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. She received her M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1997 and completed her Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in October 2001.

Honors and Awards 

Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers, 2018

Young faculty awards
NSF CAREER for "Physical Information Efficiency for Sensing, Communicating, and Computing," 2003

University of Maryland awards
ISR Outstanding Systems Engineering Faculty Award, 2006
E. Robert Kent Outstanding Teaching Award for Junior Faculty, 2011

Related News 

Khemani and Campos are Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship finalists
The pair created a reliability-aware circuit design for deep submicron technologies. April 26, 2019

Ghodssi gives distinguished lecture on devices for gastrointestinal health at EPFL in Switzerland
Trip also included visits to the Wyss Center and Imperial College London. March 7, 2019

Students advance in Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship competition
Two ECE/ISR student teams have made it to the proposal phase. January 31, 2019

Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) hosts Second Annual Seed Grant Symposium
The University’s Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) hosted its Second Annual Seed Grant Symposium on November 14, 2018 at Adele’s in the Stamp Student Union. November 19, 2018

Lu, Gollob win ISR annual awards
ISR's outstanding graduate student and undergraduate student awards were given at the Institute's welcome back reception. August 30, 2018

Simon, Abshire, Elhilali give invited talks
The talks were given in Belgium and Spain. June 8, 2018

Pamela Abshire elected IEEE Fellow
Abshire was selected for her contribution to CMOS biosensors. November 21, 2017

BBI Holds 2017 Seed Grant Symposium
Over 115 people attend symposium featuring work and accomplishments of BBI Seed Grant Awardees for FY16/FY17. September 25, 2017

ECE Professors Abshire, Goldsman, and Newcomb Participate in ISCAS 2017
This year's event focused on the connection from Dreams to Innovation, with the aim of cultivating creative research-driven Ideas in Circuits and Systems as they transition to Innovations and fuel economic development. June 7, 2017

BBI FY17 Seed Grant Winners Announced
Nine projects selected for funding. May 12, 2017

ECE Names 2016-2017 Distinguished Dissertation Fellows
Five Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D. students were selected as ECE Distinguished Dissertation Fellows for 2016-17. May 4, 2017

Paley, Abshire, Martins promoted to full Professor by UMD President Wallace Loh
The faculty members' new rank will become effective on July 1. April 6, 2017

Khaligh wins Clark School junior faculty teaching award
Khaligh will receive the Robert E. Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty at winter commencement. December 1, 2016

Abshire on “Science Goes to the Movies” Live at World Science Festival
Clark School Professor to discuss engineered systems used in drones. June 2, 2016

New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty
Center will create bio-inspired solutions for small, remotely operated aircraft. April 14, 2015

Naviasky, an ECE Student, Spoke at the 2014 Winter Commencement
Electrical and Computer Engineering student Emily Naviasky was selected as the student speaker for the 2014 A. James Clark School of Engineering Winter Commencement. December 17, 2014

Six graduate students participating in UMD-Trento research exchange
The program is part of a broad partnership between Maryland and Trento, Italy. January 20, 2014

ECE Ph.D. student Timir Datta wins Graduate All-S.T.A.R. Fellowship
The fellowship honors scholarship, teaching, administration and research. October 22, 2013

UMD Hosts NSF-Funded Cybersecurity Undergraduate Research Program
Undergraduate scholars gain research experience through summer program at the Maryland Cybersecurity Center. September 6, 2013

Six ISR students named to Future Faculty Fellows program
Clark School program prepares students for academic careers in Top-50 engineering schools. January 18, 2013

Abshire elected to IEEE Circuits and Systems Society board
Faculty member is active in many facets of the professional organization. October 19, 2012

MERIT-BIEN and TREND Fair Showcases Undergraduate Research
More than 20 undergraduate students participate in research projects sponsored by ECE and IREAP. August 7, 2012

Antbot research profiled in Pacific Standard magazine
Article explores potential of antbots in search and rescue operations June 12, 2012

Local news website names Abshire to 'brilliant women in tech' list is website for innovators in the D.C. metropolitan region. May 1, 2012

Wu, Garg and Varna win 2012 Invention of the Year
Abshire and Sander were finalists in the annual awards honoring the university's inventions. April 18, 2012

Collaborative international projects funded in solar power, cell-based systems, and ultra-low power systems
Research is part of agreement between Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy, and University of Maryland. February 16, 2012

Six ISR grad students in Clark School Future Faculty Program
Program helps students prepare for academic careers in top-50 engineering schools. February 14, 2012

Pamela Abshire wins Kent Teaching Award
Chosen for engaged teaching, curriculum development and advising student research. December 22, 2011

MERIT-BIEN and TREND Fair Showcases Undergraduate Research
Students present their summer research accomplishments to judges at annual fair. August 5, 2011

International partnership agreement being finalized
International relationship will include research and education components. May 27, 2011

Ching Teo and Yezhou Yang win in Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship competition
Teo is advised by ISR affiliate faculty member Yiannis Aloimonos. May 24, 2011

Maryland students impress at National Robotics Week
Projects highlight Maryland Robotics Center research. April 18, 2011

Nuno Martins promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure
Dr. Martins' research interests are in control theory, estimation and information theory. April 12, 2011

ISR students Datta, Teo are part of finalist teams in Qualcomm competition
Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship competition recognizes outstanding Ph.D. students. March 30, 2011

MERIT-BIEN and TREND Fair Showcases Undergrads' Summer Research
Students present their summer research accomplishments to judges at annual fair. August 6, 2010

Martins, Somasundaram, Frazier win awards at ISR's annual ceremony
Congratulations to our outstanding faculty, graduate student and staff member! May 7, 2010

Pamela Abshire queries Secretary Robert Gates at export control event
Secretary of Defense spoke on export control to business group, April 20. April 22, 2010

Six Clark School faculty become affiliates of ISR
ISR welcomes Desai, Humbert, Jacob, Paley, Qu and Smela. April 20, 2010

MERIT-BIEN Poster Wins Two Awards at NSF Program Meeting
Undergraduate summer research earns two awards for most interesting & technically challenging project. March 26, 2010

Abshire, Humbert speak at robotics policy event
Panel included representatives from academia, federal government and industry. March 26, 2010

Seven ECE Students Named Future Faculty Fellows
Ph.D. students chosen to participate in Clark School program designed to prepare future professors. February 28, 2010

Nathan Siwak, Natalie Salaets given ARCS Fellowships
Students honored at U.S. Supreme Court reception. October 13, 2009

Martins, Abshire, Smela, Bergbreiter win $1.5 million NSF grant
The team will develop self-organizing ant-sized microrobots. September 25, 2009

Cell-based sensors featured in The Scientist
Cross-disciplinary work of Abshire, Smela, Shapiro is highlighted. July 8, 2009

Fourteen ISR-affiliated students receive Ph.D.s
Congratulations to our ISR-affiliated doctoral graduates! May 22, 2009

Abshire and Espy-Wilson receive MIPS grants
Funding will help develop hand-held diagnostic instrument; advanced speech enhancement software. February 2, 2009

Four Abshire advisees join industry
Alumni join Cadence, Virage Logic, Texas Instruments, Intel. October 17, 2008

U.S. Dept. of Commerce taps Abshire for advisory committee
Body will advise Commerce on export controls for research and innovation. September 24, 2008

REU students spending summer in research
The 12 undergraduate students are participating in NSF's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. June 3, 2008

Clark School Researchers Collaborate on New Cell-Based Sensors
New bio-sensors could speed up and improve the detection of pathogens, explosives. May 6, 2008

Abshire, Cukier, Simon earn tenure
The three ISR faculty members are promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. April 29, 2008

Subrahmanian wins first ISR Faculty Venture Fair
Online opinion technology impresses venture capitalists at ISR Systems Symposium. April 20, 2008

Abshire, Shapiro, Smela part of biosensor grant
Researchers are partnering with IBI, graduate of university's TAP program. February 26, 2008

New Scientist highlights cell sensor research
Work of Shapiro, Abshire, Smela improves pathogen detection. November 27, 2007

Gupta and Abshire receive MIPS grants
Funding will help develop a radiation sensor and a web-based interface for parts manufacturing. August 1, 2007

Integrated CMOS Capacitance Sensors for On-Chip Tracking of Cell Proliferation (ISR IP)
This IP is available to license. June 23, 2007

Motion Sensor with On-Chip Adaptation and Programmable Filtering (ISR IP)
This IP is available to license. June 23, 2007

Microfluidic System for Sample Preparation (ISR IP)
This IP is available to license. June 23, 2007

Cell-Based Sensing: Biological Transduction of Chemical Stimuli to Electrical Signals (Nose-on-a-Chip) (ISR IP)
This IP is available to license. June 22, 2007

Cell Canary (ISR IP)
This IP is available to license. June 22, 2007

Undergrads Goldman and Chen Selected as NCMR Scholars
DIA program encourages future scientists to consider technical careers in intelligence. August 22, 2006

Abshire, Gupta, Liu receive MIPS grants
Projects include optimization, web interfaces and sensors for commercial products August 16, 2006

Twelve REU students welcomed
Summer experience gives undergrads the opportunity to work with ISR researchers June 5, 2006

ISR awards honor faculty, grad student and staff member
Abshire, Parikh, Luceno receive awards May 15, 2006

Ephremides is PI for NSF MRI grant on wireless sensor networks
Project will develop experimental prototypes of intelligent embedded systems September 3, 2005

Abshire, Horiuchi advise MERIT Fair winners
Students' topic: biometrics and robot control August 10, 2005

University of Maryland ranked No. 1 in nano research and education
Trade publication Small Times cites many factors in ratings May 1, 2005

Abshire is PI for NSF grant on cell-based sensing
ECE/ISR assistant professor will research integrated transduction, actuation and control April 19, 2005

ISR faculty win two Invention of the Year awards
Faculty recognized in information science and physical science categories April 2, 2005

Rubloff leads new M-CINSE nanotech center
Sept 2004—Former ISR director to help the university contribute to cutting-edge nanoscience September 2, 2004

ISR faculty showcase research to Honeywell Labs delegation
Research of Baras, Abshire, Ghodssi, Krishnaprasad and Justh featured. December 6, 2003