EVIL GENES: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend

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Barbara 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.

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.

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Selected Works

Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend
“A fascinating scientific and personal exploration of the roots of evil, filled with human insight and telling detail.”
--Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University
Hair of the Dog: Tales from Aboard a Russian Trawler
“Always revealing, sometimes explosive, and often hilarious... a book any reader is sure to drink up.”
--critic and writer, Brian Arundel of the National Fisherman
"The Killer in the Lecture Hall," The New York Times, April 19th, 2007.
A professor’s reaction to the Virginia Tech Massacre.
Picture Board Game
Herd Your Horses
A perennial best-seller that was selected as a top-100 game by Games Magazine.