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Banu Onaral, PhD

H. H. Sun Professor and Senior Advisor to the President, Global Partnerships

Banu Onaral
Office: Monell 106
Phone: 215.895.2247
Personal site: CONQUER Collaborative
  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Biomedical Engineering, 1978
  • MSEE, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, Electrical Engineering, 1974
  • BSEE, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, Electrical Engineering, 1973

Research Interests

Functional optical brain imaging, biomedical signal processing, complexity and scaling in biomedical signals, systems, and imaging


Banu Onaral is H. H. Sun Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. She received her BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, in 1973 and 1974, respectively, and earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. Dr. Onaral joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering and Science Institute at Drexel University in 1981. Starting in 1995, she led the strategic planning to transform the Biomedical Engineering and Science Institute into a university-level interdisciplinary school. She served as the Founding Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems since its creation in 1997 to 2014. She currently leads the ‘Global Innovation Partnerships’ initiative as Senior Presidential Advisor at Drexel University.

Academic Focus and Leadership
Dr. Onaral's academic focus, both in research and teaching, is centered on information engineering, with special emphasis on complex systems, biomedical signal processing in ultrasound and optics, and functional optical brain imaging. 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), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), and the US Marines. She supervised a large number of graduate students to degree completion and has an extensive publication record in biomedical signals and systems.

Dr. Onaral founded several laboratories throughout her career: the most recent is the CONQUER (Cognitive Neuroengineering and Quantitative Experimental Research) CollabOrative, established in Fall 2008 as an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and international resource dedicated to the study of brain activation, development, and deployment of functional optical brain imaging technologies in human-system integration and performance, healthcare, mental health, and learning, with research and development partners in the US and overseas, including China, Israel, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.  

National Honors, Awards, and Services
Dr. Onaral 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. She is a Fellow of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), 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.

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. 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. Earlier, she had served as Vice-President of Conferences of IEEE-EMBS. She has been active in conference leadership; notably, she organized and chaired the 1990 Annual International Conference of the EMBS and Co-Chaired the 2004 Annual Conference of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

Translational Research and Health Innovations Leadership – University
Dr. Onaral’s translational research efforts for rapid commercialization of biomedical technologies developed at Drexel University 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, and local legal, business, and investment communities. Under her leadership, the program has been awarded $10 million from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation towards the creation of the $20 million Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Partnership Endowment that serves all faculty and researchers at Drexel University. She has participated in the development of the Philadelphia Pediatric Device Consortium (PPDC), sponsored in part by the FDA and led by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Global Academic and Innovation Partnerships
Dr. Onaral has actively forged international academic and innovation partnerships with institutions in China, Israel, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

In 2000, she led the first Eisenhower Foundation sponsored delegation of biomedical engineers to China and helped organize the first Asia-Pacific Biomedical Engineering Conference in Hangzhou. Dr. Onaral has been instrumental in the organization of international biomedical engineering conferences in China, including the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) in Shanghai, China, in 2005. She led the development of the dual-doctoral degree program in Neuroengineering with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) that is currently expanding other emerging fields in biomedical engineering.

Dr. Onaral has facilitated the development of translational research partnership with the Institute for Drug Research (IDR) of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. She is spearheading the creation of similar partnerships in China, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute and Shanghai Technology University.

In Turkey, she participated in the strategic planning team charged with the creation of Sabancı University, established in 1998 in Istanbul, Turkey, and served on its Board of Trustees. Sabancı University is top ranked in innovation and entrepreneurship in Turkey. Dr. Onaral also served as the President of the Turkish American Scientists and Scholars Association (TASSA) and is the senior advisor for strategic and global partnerships at Teknopark Istanbul, the $4 billion science, technology, and innovation hub under development in Turkey. Her responsibility areas center on health technologies and human-system integration in aerospace. She also serves as an honorary advisor to several Turkish universities, including her membership on the EBILTEM Technology Transfer Advisory of Ege University, Izmir, the Advisory Board of DEPARK, the Dokuz Eylul University Health Technopark, and the HUNITEK, Hacettepe University Advanced Technology initiative. Dr. Onaral has participated as the US lead or global liaison in regional health innovation initiatives, namely INOVIZ, INOVAnkara, and INOVITA in Izmir, Ankara, and Istanbul, Turkey, respectively. In July 2015, she was recognized as one of the '30 Most Influential Turkish American Women in the USA' by TurkofAmerica.


  • M. Izzetoglu, A. Devaraj, S. Bunce, B. Onaral, Motion Artifact Cancellation in NIR Spectroscopy Using Wiener Filtering. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. in press
  • K. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, B. Onaral, K. Pourrezzaei, B. Chance., Functional Optical Brain Imaging Using NIR during Cognitive Tasks. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. Special Issue on Augmented Cognition. in press
  • B. Yazici, M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, N. Bilgutay, Kalman Filtering for Self-Similar Processes. Signal Processing Journal. in press
  • A. Bozkurt, B. Onaral, "Safety Assessment of Near Infrared Light Emitting Diodes for Diffuse Optical Measurements," Biomedical Engineering Online, 2004.
  • K. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, K. Pourrezaei, Functional Near Infrared Neuroimaging. Proceedings of the EMBS 2004.
  • M. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, B. Onaral, Single Trial Hemodynamic Response Estimation in Event Related fNIR Spectroscopy. Proceedings of the OSA 2004.
  • A. Devaraj, M. Izzetoglu, K. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, K. Pourrezaei, Arterial Pulsation and Respiration Artifact Cancellation in Functional NIR Spectroscopy. Proceedings of the BMES 2004. in press
  • A. Devaraj, M. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, K. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, K. Pourrezaei, Single Trial Event Detection in functional NIR Spectroscopy. Proceedings of the BMES 2004. in press
  • H. Ayaz, S. M. Platek, K. Izzetoglu, M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, "Brain Template Registration for fNIR Spectroscopy," Proc. of BMES 2004. in press
  • S. Bunce, A. Devaraj, M. Izzetoglu and B. Onaral, "Functional Optical Brain Sensor to Monitor Deception", Proc. of Nondestructive Detection and Measurement for Homeland Security 2004 (NDE04). in press
  • A. Devaraj, M. Izzetoglu, K. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, Motion Artifact Removal for fNIR Spectroscopy for Real World Application Areas. Proceedings of the SPIE Int. Symp. Optics East 2004. in press
  • K. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, K. Pourrezaei, fNIR Spectroscopy as a Measure of Task Load. Proceedings of the EMBS 2003
  • M. Izzetoglu, A. Devaraj, K. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, B. Onaral, Motion Artifact Removal in fNIR Signals Using Adaptive Filtering. Proceedings of the BMES 2003
  • A. Devaraj, M. Izzetoglu, S. Bunce, B. Onaral, Hemodynamic Response Identification and Feature Extraction for fNIR Signals. Proceedings of the BMES 2003
  • K. Izzetoglu, G. Yurtsever, A. Bozkurt, B. Yazici, S. Bunce, K. Pourrezaei, B. Onaral, "NIR Spectroscopy Measurements of Cognitive Load Elicited by GKT and Target Categorization," Proc. of 36th Hawaii Int. Conf. on System Sciences, 2003.
  • B. Yazici, M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral. Optimal Wiener Filtering For Self-Similar Processes. Proceedings of ICASSP, Vol. 2, pp. 1697-1700, Orlando, FL. May 2002
  • B. Onaral, J. P. Cammarota. Complexity, Scaling and Fractals in Biomedical Signals. CRC Biomedical Engineering Handbook. Ed. Joseph D. Bronzino, 2000
  • M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, N. Bilgutay, P.Chitrapu. Discrete-time Processing of Linear Scale Invariant Signals and Systems. Proceedings of the SPIE-2000, San Diego, July 2000
  • M. Izzetoglu, B. Onaral, N. Bilgutay, P. Chitrapu. Wavelet Domain Least Squares Deconvolution for Ultrasonic Backscattered Signals. Proceedings of the World Congress 2000, Chicago, July 2000
  • M. Izzetoglu, T. Akgul, B. Onaral, N. Bilgutay. Least Squares Deconvolution in Wavelet Domain for 1/f Driven LTI Systems. Proceedings of the ICASSP, Vol. 2, pp. II721 -II724, June 2000
  • B. Onaral, O. Tretiak, F. Cohen. Medical Signal and Image Processing. Wiley Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. John Webster, Ed, 1999
  • J. P. Cammarota, B. Onaral. State Transitions in Physiologic Systems: A Complexity Model for Loss of Consciousness. IEEE Trans. Biomedical Engineering, Vol. 45: 8, pp. 1017-1023, August 1998
  • G. J. Maskarinec, B. Onaral. Time Domain Characteristics of Rational Systems with Scale Invariant Frequency Response. IEEE Trans. on Circuits and Systems (CAS-I). Vol. 43:5, pp. 399-402, May 1996
  • B. Onaral, J. P. Cammarota. Complexity, Scaling and Fractals in Biomedical Signals. CRC Biomedical Engineering Handbook. Joseph D. Bronzino, Ed. pp. 933-944, 1995
  • G. J. Maskarinec, B. Onaral. A Class of Rational Systems with Scale-Invariant Frequency Response. IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems-I. Vol. 41: 1, pp.75-79, January 1994