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Elizabeth Basha, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering

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Professor Elizabeth Basha receives 2019 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

May 3, 2019

University of the Pacific is committed to providing undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in research, which applies theoretical learning to solve real-world problems and fosters discovery. In support of this commitment, in 2014 the Office of Undergraduate Research established the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award to recognize a faculty member each year for excellence in encouraging and mentoring undergraduate student research.

Elizabeth Basha '03, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, was selected as the recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. The award was announced during the university's annual Research Day event on April 27, which showcases faculty and student research and creative work. A dedicated teacher and highly respected scholar, Basha has made significant research contributions in the field of robotics and sensor networks.

Professor Elizabeth Basha working with students Basha has a strong record of securing research funding, including a three-year NSF grant to investigate the use of aerial robotics to maintain sensor network systems, which supported student researcher participation as well as the purchase of robotic equipment. Funding she secured through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for aerial wetlands monitoring has supported a total of seven undergraduate research students on semester-long projects since fall 2017. She also established Pacific Tigers Engineering Abroad (PacTEA), a program that enables students to research and design real-world engineering solutions in projects throughout Central America.   

"My goal with my students is to increase their comfort level with the unknown and their ability to work independently, to think critically about how to define a problem, create a solution and verify that solution solves the problem," said Basha.

Setting high standards for her research students, Basha encourages them to present and publish their work. Her mentees have presented research at peer-reviewed national and international conferences and have co-authored research projects published in peer-reviewed journals.  

"Dr. Basha has allowed me to get real-world engineering experience that I would not have received just sitting in a classroom," said Trevor Speckman. "I have enjoyed working in cross-disciplinary teams and on problems ranging from designing a winch for raising and lowering Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) payloads to assisting in instrumentation for an autonomous golf cart."

Basha earned her undergraduate degree in computer engineering at Pacific and her master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the Pacific faculty in 2010. The opportunity to work with students brought Basha back to University of the Pacific, rather than to a career in industry or a teaching position at a large research institution.

"I decided I wanted to teach, and at a place where teaching was really valued," Basha said. "It's fun to teach students how to think about problems and focus on the bigger picture." 

She is deeply committed to experiential learning, which takes on many forms both inside and outside the classroom. She is dedicated to her students' success, and her students appreciate her passion for teaching and mentorship.

"Dr. Basha has been a great mentor for me as an electrical engineering student," said Angel Tejada '19. "The skills I've learned under her guidance have already been used outside my work for her, including my newfound knowledge of power systems I applied in my senior project—skills I would not have had if not for Dr. Basha." 


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