Banu Onaral is H.H. Sun Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. 1978 in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and BSEE 1973 and MSEE in Electrical Engineering from Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. Dr. Onaral joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering and Science Institute in 1981. She held two sabbatical leaves at Bogazici University in the academic years 1980-81 and 1987-88. Since 1997, she has served as the founding Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering Science and Health Systems.
Her academic focus both in research and teaching is centered on information engineering with special emphasis on complex systems and biomedical signal processing in ultrasound and optics. She has led major research and development projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Naval Research (ONR), DARPA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She supervised a large number of graduate students to degree completion and has an extensive publication record in biomedical signals and systems. She is the recipient of a number of faculty excellence awards including the 1990 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award of Drexel University, the EDUCOM Best educational Software award and the NSF Faculty Achievement Award.
Dr. Onaral’s translational research efforts for rapid commercialization of biomedical technologies developed at Drexel and its partner institutions have resulted in the creation of the Translational Research in Biomedical Technologies program. This initiative brings together academic technology developers with entrepreneurs, regional economic development agencies, local legal, business and investment communities. Under her leadership, the program has been recognized by the Coulter Translational Research Partnership award following a highly competitive selection process among 63 institutions in North America. At the end of the five-year term, universities successful in institutionalizing translational research will receive an endowment to ensure the perpetuity of the program.
Dr. Onaral’s professional services include chair and membership on advisory boards and strategic planning bodies of several universities and funding agencies, including service on the National Science Foundation's Engineering Advisory Board, and on the proposal review panels and study sections. She has served on the strategic planning team charged with the creation of Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.
Her professional responsibilities have included service on the Editorial Board of journals and the CRC Biomedical Engineering Handbook as Section Editor for Biomedical Signal Analysis. She served as President of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), the largest member-based biomedical engineering society in the world. She organized and chaired the 1990 Annual International Conference of the EMBS and Co-Chaired the 2004 Annual Conference of the Biomedical Engineering. She is a Fellow of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a Founding Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). She served on the inaugural Board of the AIMBE as publications chair and as Chair of the Academic Council and as the President of the Turkish American Scientists and Scholars Association.