Barbara Oakley (bio)

International lecturer, best-selling author

Contact:Prof. Barbara Oakley
Mailing Address: 216 Birch Hill Drive, Rochester, Michigan, United States of America 48306
Phone:248 930 0752
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You were a wonderful speaker! Robert C. Ladendorf, Chief Operating Officer, Center for Inquiry West
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Oakland University

Fields of Interest:

Medicine, Administration, Genetics, Mental Health, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Psychology, Nursing, Social Work, After Dinner, Arts/Culture, Character Portrayals, Communication, Drug Abuse/Alcoholism, Entrepreneurship, Emotional Intelligence, Empowerment, Ethics, Family/Youth, Gender Issues, Government/Political, Human Resources, Inspiration, Journalism/Writing, Leadership, Memory/Mind Mapping, Motivation/Inspiration, Personal Achievement Story, Personal Development, Science / Engineering, Self Esteem, Spirituality/Religion, Success, Teambuilding, Travel/Exploration, Women in Society, Criminal Law, Family Law, Applied Research Methods, Bioethics, Biomedical Ethics, Family Practice, Forensic Science/Medicine, Fraud and Abuse, Human Genetics, Medical Education, Medical Humanities, Neurology, Social Work/Sciences, Adventure, Assertiveness, Business, Conflict Management, Corporate Culture, Family, Hiring/Retention, Human Relations, Interpersonal Communication, Patriotism, Politics/Public Affairs, Womens Issues, Writing Skills, Addiction Medicine, Academics, Behavioral Science, Biology, Child Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Science, Domestic Violence, Terrorism, Counterterrorism, Counseling, Activism, Health & Wellness , International Research, Parenting, Addictions, Cultural, Neurophysiology, Drugs and Behavior, Violence Prevention, Miscellaneous, Welfare, Anger Management, Philosophy, Community, Workforce, PTSD

Recent Engagements:

  • Center for Inquiry (open to Public) Bakersfield; CA: Tuesday; May 19; 2009 Time TBD
  • Reedley College; RC Forum Hall 995 North Reed Avenue; Reedley; CA 93654 Thursday; March 19; 2009; 7:00 PM
  • Association of periOperative Registered Nurses; "Spring Seminar" Four Points by Sheraton near I-94/Briarwood Mall; Ann Arbor; MI Saturday; March 28; 2009 12:00 PM
  • Humanist Society of Santa Barbara (open to the public) Santa Barbara; CA: Saturday; May 16; 2009 Time TBD
  • Center for Inquiry; Northeast Ohio (Open to the Public) Speaker's Room; Quality Inn; 4742 Brecksville Road; Richfield; Ohio 44286 Wednesday; November 12; 2009; 7:00 PM
  • Binghamton University; kick off lecture for the EvoS seminar series 4400 Vestal Parkway East Vestal; NY 13850 Friday; September 05; 4:00 PM; 2009
  • Duke University (sponsored by the Science Book Club); Tuesday; August 5th; 2008 at 3:15 pm
  • McIntyre's Fine Books; 2000 Fearrington Village;Pittsboro; NC 27312 on Wednesday; August 6th; 2008; at 2:00 pm
  • The Barnes and Noble on 5555 S. Virginia Street.; Reno; Nevada; Saturday; August 2nd; 2008; at 2:00 pm
  • The Carpe Librum Booksellers; 5113 Kingston Pike #A; Knoxville; TN; Friday; July 18; 2008; 6:30 PM
  • Steve Allen Theater; Center for Inquiry; 4773 Hollywood Blvd.; Los Angeles; CA 90027 on Sunday; June 29; 2008; 11:00 AM
  • World Affairs Council Auditorium; 312 Sutter Street; 2nd Floor; San Francisco; CA; Friday; June 27; 2008; 6:30 PM
  • Barnes & Noble; the Stacks at the Waterfront; 100 West Bridge Street; Homestead; PA 15120. Tuesday; June 24; 2008; from 7:00 PM. Filmed by Book TV
  • The Half King Pub in Chelsea; 505 W 23rd Street; New York City; 7:00 PM; June 2; 2008
  • The Book Revue Bookstore; 313 New York Ave.; Huntington; NY; 11743; 7:00 PM; June 3; 2008
  • Center for Inquiry; Shetler Studio Annex; 939 8th Avenue (between 55-56th Sts); 2nd Floor; New York City; 6:30 PM; June 4; 2008
  • Michigan State University; East Lansing; MI; 7:00 PM; April 23; 2008
  • Arkansas Literary Festival; Little Rock; AR; 12:30 PM; April 5; 2008
  • Panel discussion “Evil and Sin;” Virginia Festival of the Book; Charlottesville; VA; 8:00 PM; March 27; 2008
  • Center for Inquiry; Grand Rapids; MI; 7:00 PM; February 12th; 2008
  • Grand Valley State University; Grand Rapids; MI; 7:30 PM; February 12th; 2008
  • Center for Inquiry; Grand Rapids; 7:00 PM; February 13th; 2008
  • Schuler Books; Lansing; 7:00 PM No¬vember 6th; 2007
  • Rochester Hills Public Library; Rochester; MI; 7:00 PM November 8th; 2007
  • Barnes & Noble; Rochester Hills; 2:00 PM October 13th; 2007
Speaker 's Fees:$2500 or less
Length of presentation:1 to 2 hours
Travels From:Detroit, Michigan
Travel Limits:no limits
Target Audience:Any
AV Requirements:Powerpoint
Visit the Web Site of Barbara Oakley
Airfare: yesHotel: yes
Food: yesMileage: no


Barbara Oakley, PhD, is an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan, where she does research related to bioengineering. 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.

Other exploits include rising from U.S. Army private to captain, during which Oakley was recognized as a Distinguished Military Scholar, and teaching in Qíqíhā'ěr, Manchuria—“the Red Chinese equivalent of Fargo, North Dakota, but with six million people,” she says. And she literally went to the end of the earth to find her husband, whom she met while working as a radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica.

It took six years of obsessive research and writing to bring forth Evil Genes, which Oakley calls “a nonfiction thriller.” The book was inspired in part by an unusual family history. Oakley’s sister, a deeply sinister woman who died under mysterious circumstances, really did steal her mother’s boyfriend. But inspiration came as well from the common patterns Oakley discerned in people’s behavior as a result of her wide-ranging adventures. As preeminent evolutionist David Sloan Wilson notes in the foreword: “It’s doubtful that anyone coming from a standard academic perch could have crossed so many disciplines—and perspectives—to develop such an encompassing, thought-provoking thesis.” Oakley’s knowledge of both psychology and science are impeccable—even as she exposes the gaps of the standard ivory tower perspective.

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