News Release

UC San Diego Electrical Engineering Professor Pam Cosman Wins Pinnacle Award

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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, received the Pinnacle Award on May 5, 2017.

San Diego, Calif., May 22, 2017 – Pamela Cosman, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, is being honored for her exemplary leadership among women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Cosman was one of just seven recipients of the 2017 Pinnacle Awards, announced May 5, 2017.  

“Pamela Cosman was honored by Athena, a San Diego-based business organization championing women executives and rising managers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Cheryl Goodman, Executive Director of Athena. “Recipients of the 2017 Pinnacle Awards represent the best and brightest in our region. We were excited to honor them amidst a crowd of more than 600 leaders in science, technology and business.”

The annual Pinnacle Awards, now in their 19th year, recognize women leaders, mentors and role models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). One of just seven awardees amidst a competitive pool of 70 individuals and 20 companies, Cosman champions women at all stages of their career in STEM.

“One of my key goals in life is to turn more girls on to engineering as an exciting career, and to support women in the field,” said Cosman. “It feels wonderful to be recognized by the Athena Pinnacle Award for this work that I'm passionate about.”

Women Faculty and Professionals

As Faculty Equity Advisor for the Jacobs School of Engineering, Cosman conducts annual training on unconscious bias for all faculty search committees at the school. Since her appointment to the position in 2012, there have been thirteen women (among 47 individuals) hired into the Jacobs School faculty.  Cosman organizes a quarterly lunch for all women faculty in the Jacobs School with the Dean or with other campus leaders.

Cosman also serves as Co-Director of the UC San Diego Center for Research on Gender in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM), where she conducts research on gender effects in the pattern of questions and interruptions during job talks. The center was established by a Frontiers of Innovation grant in 2015 to study gender in academic STEMM professions and hosts a Learning Community to support interdisciplinary conversations about gender among faculty and graduate student instructors.

Women Students in STEM Majors

Cosman has been an organizer of two workshops at the Banff International Research Station on mentoring women in engineering, and has been a speaker or participant for local women student groups as well as at local and national conferences related to women in engineering, such as the UC San Diego Women’s Conference, National Science Foundation GSE/Advance Workshop, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and the ENGender Workshop of the ASEE.  In her home department of electrical engineering, Cosman spearheaded a group of female faculty that recently launched a peer group for women graduate students and postdocs in electrical engineering.

"I'd like to congratulate Pam for her leadership and persistence in addressing the difficult challenge of attracting and retaining engineering students that reflect the diversity and the gender parity we find in society. Pam is truly outstanding, and her contributions deserve the highest recognition possible," said Truong Nguyen, professor and chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Future Generations

Her children’s book, “The Secret Code Menace”, teaches children ages 9-12 about concepts in wireless communications, from error correction coding to interleaving. The book’s main character is a girl, helping to make engineering more accessible and attractive to girls.

Cosman is a Fellow of the IEEE and a recipient of the 2016 UC San Diego Affirmative Action & Diversity Award, among others. She has authored over 250 papers on image/video processing and wireless communications.

The other 2017 Pinnacle Award honorees are:

Individual in Life Science 

Sabrina Johnson
CEO & Founder, Daré Bioscience/ CFO, California Institute for Biomedical Research

Individual in Technology

Nina Smith
Executive VP/General Manager, Casualty Solutions, Mitchell International

Individual in Service

Nancy Hong, Ph.D.
Managing Director, RiverVest Venture Partners


Mitchell International

Life Science Start-up


Technology Start-up

Coin Up

On May 5, 2017, Athena also awarded scholarships (through the Athena Foundation) to five graduating high school seniors to promote the future of young women in STEM.

Media Contacts

Brittanie Collinsworth
UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation