Barbara Oakley is an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan, where she does research on the effects of electromagnetic fields on biological tissues, as well as on novel antenna designs. One of the few women to hold a doctorate in systems engineering, Oakley is a recent vice president of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. She has been at the forefront of efforts to expand the bioengineering profession and has won teaching-related awards from such organizations as the National Science Foundation. Oakley's work has appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times to the IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience.
Oakley's academic career came after a series of globetrotting adventures that got her dubbed a female Indiana Jones. While knocking back tumblers of vodka with the captain of a Soviet fishing boat during the height of the Cold War, she was told, You know too much, it's time to kill you a rhyme in Russian. She chronicled her stint as a maritime translator in Hair of the Dog: Tales from Aboard a Russian Trawler.