UC Davis Awards Top Honor for Graduate Teaching to Erkin Şeker

The Academic Senate of the University of California, Davis, has selected electrical and computer engineering professor Erkin Şeker as a recipient of the 2024 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching. The award recognizes outstanding teaching and dedication to student success and is among the campus's highest honors. 

image of Erkin

"I find teaching and mentoring very rewarding, as it is an ideal means to interact with a diverse group of students and trainees," Şeker said, reflecting on his career. "I witness their intellectual growth and experiment with new ways to teach and mentor, all of which resonate with my natural interest to learn, create, and connect."  

Since joining the university in 2011, Şeker has spearheaded the development of several impactful graduate-level courses and programs.  

He has created EEC 200 — "Navigating Graduate School," which covers topics from career development and work-life balance to research integrity and science communication. The course has been so successful that it is now a permanent offering required for all incoming electrical and computer engineering graduate students at UC Davis.  

Another course is the innovative "Micro-Nanotechnology in Life Sciences," which is cross-listed in four engineering departments. , Şeker frames the class around a National Institutes of Health-style proposal and experiential assignments such as computer games to teach students highly interdisciplinary research topics and cultivate critical thinking skills. The National Academy of Engineering recognized this creative teaching methodology during its prestigious Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in 2014.  

Şeker has also been instrumental in establishing the university's Designated Emphasis in Neuroengineering. Beyond his current appointment as the program's inaugural chair, he designed EEC 244 — "Introduction to Neuroengineering." He teaches the course with a team of 13 faculty members from 10 different departments, offering students technical experience in the many focus areas of neuroengineering. 

In addition to his teaching experience, Şeker has proven to be an exceptional mentor, having been previously recognized with a Graduate Studies Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentorship Award. The graduate students he has mentored have gone on to win high honors, including the BME Outstanding Graduate Student Award, the Anil Jain Memorial Prize for best dissertation in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Zuhair A. Munir Award for best dissertation in the College of Engineering.  

"Knowing that there are so many outstanding faculty at UC Davis that care deeply about teaching and mentorship," Şeker said, "I feel honored to be a recipient of this recognition and feel grateful to all my students, colleagues, instructors — former, current, and prospective — in contributing to my development as a teacher and a mentor." 

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