Modern science is helping us to finally begin to understand the partial genetic and biological basis of "bad" behavior. It's empowering for people to realize that some people act in hurtful ways in part because it's how they are neurophysiologically predisposed. (And that's not to say that such people can't change!)" Professor Barbara Oakley uses evolutionary theory, as well as the unusually adventurous background that has earned her the nickname of a "female Indiana Jones," to knit together disparate pieces of research that help us understand--and better deal with--some of life's most compelling problems.
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Professor Barbara Oakley's work at Oakland University involves bioengineering in many different contexts. As a recent Vice President of the IEEE-Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, as well as the co-editor of Careers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Dr. Oakley has worked hard to help build a public understanding of the bioengineering profession. Her research work has involved the effects of electric fields on cells, and more recently, investigations of the complex relationship between neurocircuitry and social behavior.
Dr. Oakley has an eclectic background. Among many adventures, she has worked for several years as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers in the Bering Sea during the height of the Cold War. She met her husband while working as a radio operator at the South Pole station in Antarctica; and she has gone from private to regular Army Captain in the U.S. military. Dr. Oakley's critically acclaimed, tongue-in-cheek titled book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend takes readers on a witty, provocative exploration of the darkest recesses of the human personality.