News Release

UC San Diego Electrical Engineering Professor Pam Cosman Wins Diversity Award

San Diego, CA, March 17, 2017 -- Pamela Cosman, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, has been named a UC San Diego 2016 Diversity Champion.

Cosman specializes in data compression and image/video processing and is a Fellow of the IEEE, among many other professional accomplishments. She served as the Jacobs School’s Associate Dean for Students from September 2013 to December 2016. 

As Associate Dean for Students, through her work as Faculty Equity Adviser for the Jacobs School, and in many other capacities, Cosman has made a wide variety of significant contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion for both engineering faculty and students. Her work has led to positive change within her home department of electrical engineering, throughout the Jacobs School of Engineering, and across UC San Diego. 

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 Pamela Cosman, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, has been named a UC San Diego 2016 Diversity Champion.

Diversifying the faculty

As Faculty Equity Adviser for the Jacobs School of Engineering, which Cosman has done for the last five years, Cosman trains faculty search committees to ensure that all candidates are considered equally. This involves introducing search committees to a variety of topics, including the academic literature on implicit bias, studies on biases in hiring and in teaching evaluations, as well as the pros and cons of various kinds of evaluation systems. With Cosman as Faculty Equity Adviser, the Jacobs School has made significant strides in diversifying the faculty. Thirteen women, as well as two men from traditionally underrepresented minorities in engineering, are among the 47 professors hired into the Jacobs School faculty over the last three years.

Cosman’s work to diversify the Jacobs School faculty goes well beyond her role on as a Faculty Equity Adviser. She is the Principal Investigator on an approximately $500,000 award from the State of California to advance faculty diversity at the Jacobs School. Her winning proposal includes approaches for diversifying the applicant pool, using rubrics to increase fairness in applicant review, and creating a diversity cohort.

Cosman also serves as Co-Director of the UC San Diego Center for Research on Gender in STEMM (CRG-STEMM). The center was established by a Frontiers of Innovation grant in 2015 to study gender in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine. Through CRG-STEMM, Cosman has been conducting research on patterns of questions and interruptions during academic job talks. 

Diversifying the student body

As Associate Dean for Students, Cosman has worked closely with the IDEA Engineering Student Center and many others at the Jacobs School to expand access to engineering to low-income students, women, and other groups that are traditionally under-represented in engineering.

Cosman, for example, is the Principal Investigator on an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that will support diversifying the engineering student body at the Jacobs School. The award is enabling the Jacobs School’s IDEA Engineering Student Center to implement a new scholarship program aimed at increasing the academic success of low-income (PELL-eligible) engineering students at UC San Diego. The award is part of a nationwide Redshirt in Engineering Consortium.

Cosman serves on a campus steering committee that helped secure a $1M grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for scholarships and mentoring for incoming under-represented students designated as Sloan Scholars.  As part of this committee, Cosman played a key role in UC San Diego’s successful efforts to be designated a University Center for Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) in the Minority Ph.D. Program of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Making a difference: person to person

Cosman’s work to diversify faculty and student populations at the Jacobs School and beyond spans many types of activities, including grant writing, academic research scholarship, faculty recruitment and mentoring, and thought leadership on diversity, equity and access issues in STEM. But her work doesn’t stop there. Cosman, for example, also mentors several of the under-represented engineering students who are scholars in the Sloan Foundation mentoring program for minority Ph.D. students. In addition, Cosman serves as a dedicated and effective role model and mentor for other students as well as student groups.

Cosman frequently participates in panels and presentations in support of student groups within engineering. She also makes time to attend events and conferences, and to activate her professional networks, in order to help diversify the applicant pools for Jacobs School faculty and postdoc positions, as well as graduate and undergraduate student opportunities. In addition, Cosman organizes a quarterly lunch for all women faculty in the Jacobs School with Dean Albert P. Pisano. 

Her efforts are generating results at all levels of campus. In her home department of electrical engineering, for example, a group of female faculty – now that there is a critical mass – recently launched a peer group for women graduate students and postdocs in electrical engineering.

Cosman is also reaching out to young people through a novel she wrote that brings the technical topic of error-correction coding to life. Read some of the backstory on the novel, The Secret Code Menace.


Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering