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Smela, Elisabeth

Elisabeth Smela
Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
Department of Mechanical Engineering
2112 Glenn L. Martin Hall, Building 088
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Research Interests 

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.


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 CAREER award, 2003)
  • Outstanding Invention of 2004, Office of Technology Commercialization, UMD
  • cell sensor based pathogen detection
  • DuPont Young Professor Award, 2003
  • Danish Research Councils Talent Project award, 1998
  • NSF Fellow, Summer Institute in Japan, 1991
  • E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty, UMD, 2004

Related News 

Smela named Clark School Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Graduate Programs
She will begin serving in this position on Sept. 1. July 7, 2017

University of Maryland, College Park & Baltimore Campuses Announce Seed Grant Winners
Program, now in eight year, spurs inter-campus research collaboration October 17, 2015

Smela Named ADVANCE Professor
Mechanical Engineering Professor Elisabeth Smela Named University of Maryland ADVANCE Professor September 3, 2015

Bruck Named SEM Fellow
Department of Mechanical Engineering Professor Hugh Bruck named SEM Fellow. June 25, 2014

Bruck, Smela, Yu receive NSF grant for compliant multifunctional robotic structures
National Robotics Initiative grant will develop a robotic 'nervous system.' September 3, 2013

Associate Professor Teng Li Wins E. Robert Kent Outstanding Teaching Award
Li is the fourth Mechanical Engineering professor to receive the award for outstanding excellence in teaching. January 2, 2013

Miniature Robotics REU students give final presentations
Ten undergrads from around the country give talks on their summer projects. August 10, 2012

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

Systems Researchers Partner with Trento, Italy
Joint efforts to target bioengineering, renewable energy, nanomaterials, microsystems, education. May 26, 2011

Elisabeth Smela Promoted to Full Professor
MEMS researcher advances to new rank. May 17, 2011

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

Shapiro, Smela are issued U.S. Patent 7,523,608
Clark School faculty members invent electrically driven microfluidic pumping for actuation. May 5, 2009

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

Dandin Named 2008 Fischell Fellow
BioE grad student to develop fast, portable biosensor. April 16, 2008

Clark School Leads "Microsystems Mechanics" Center
$10M effort to develop networked micro-vehicles for assisting soldiers. March 25, 2008

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

Engineers Without Borders Installs Solar Systems in Burkina Faso
Sustainable power sources help illuminate community in developing African country. February 1, 2008

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

Cooperation with Korean University Adds to International Exchange
Pusan National University to share Ph.D. research knowledge, faculty and students. April 26, 2007

Department Welcomes German Fulbright Scholars
German-American Fulbright Program provides educational exchange. April 13, 2007

Engineering Change in Burkina Faso
Engineers Without Borders team improves quality of life for African village. February 16, 2007

ME Faculty Honored at Research Leaders Luncheon
Nine ME Faculty honored on November 14. December 15, 2006

Pi Tau Sigma Honors Faculty, Teaching Assistant
Pi Tau Sigma honored two faculty members and a teaching assistant during their initiation ceremony on May 10th. May 15, 2006

ME Faculty & Students Dominate Invention Awards
Co-Inventor Greg Jackson Winner in Physical Sciences Category April 15, 2006

ME Faculty & Students Win Invention, Business Plan Awards
The department congratulates these outstanding students and faculty on their well-deserved awards. May 15, 2005

Smela Promoted to Associate Professor Status
Congratulations to Elisabeth Smela, who was recently awarded the status of Associate Professor with tenure. March 15, 2005

MIPS Program, Maryland Companies Award Funds to ME Faculty To Develop Technology-Based Products
Nearly $700K of that amount was awarded to ME faculty MIPS projects, detailed below. February 15, 2005

Dr. Adam Hsieh Joins ME Department in November 2004
Hsieh to Work With Bioengineering Graduate Program. August 1, 2004

ME Undergrad Selin Mariadhas Awarded ASME Foundation Scholarship
Selin is the only recipient of the award from UMD, College Park campus in 2004. July 15, 2004

Profs. Balachandran and Sandborn Winners of OTC Invention of the Year Competition
Professors Balakumar Balachandran and Peter Sandborn were the winners of two of the three (OTC) Invention of the Year Awards. April 15, 2003

Elisabeth Smela Receives NSF CAREER Award
Award won for project titled, "Development of Advanced MEMS Actuator Technology for Microrobotics." February 15, 2003

Industrial College of the Armed Forces Students Visit
The students were hosted by Assoc. Prof. Jeffrey Herrmann and were welcomed by Department Chairman Avram Bar-Cohen. May 1, 2002

4 ME Faculty Win Department of Defense Awards
Four members of the Mechanical Engineering faculty are recipients of the Department of Defense MURI and DURIP awards. March 27, 2002

Maryland Team Takes Second Place in MEMS Alliance's Special Topics Symposium Refereed Poster Session
Hyo Suk Oh and Yingkai Liu took second place in MEMS Alliance's Special Topics Symposium Refereed Poster Session. November 19, 2001

MRI Award Granted to Research Team
This equipment will complement the department's deep reactive ion etcher (DRIE), previously awarded under a Navy DURIP grant August 13, 2001