Academic Credentials
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, Boston University, 2009
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University, 2003
Additional Education & Training
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Professional Affiliations
  • American Chemical Society

Dr. Oelker utilizes expertise in chemicals and materials characterization to provide clients in a variety of industries with product development and failure analysis solutions. Trained as a chemical engineer and chemist, she specializes in the design and evaluation of polymeric materials and small molecule additives.   

Dr. Oelker has experience with materials selection, deformulation, and failure analysis of polymer films, emulsifiers and emulsion polymers, medical devices, high-performance textiles, dyes, carpets, coatings, reflective insulation, and injectable hydrogels. Dr. Oelker has expertise in the synthesis, characterization, and use of hydrogels in a variety of applications. While at Exponent, Dr. Oelker has assisted clients in failure analysis and characterization of hydrogels for consumer electronics, sensors, diapers, and medical applications, including various injectable hydrogel-based therapeutics and hydrogels for dermal application.

Dr. Oelker also has expertise in the evaluation of fabric and garment construction, fabric identification, and characterization of the mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of fabrics. While at Exponent, Dr. Oelker has supported clients on matters involving infrared absorbing composite materials, infrared reflecting composite materials, cushioned athletic wear, absorbent non-wovens, footwear cushions, and absorbent multicomponent materials for athletic wear. She has experience with the characterization of fabrics and garments using standardized testing including with methods published by the American Association of Textile Colorists and Chemists (AATCC), ASTM and ISO. She also has experience with the development of specialized, non-standard test methods for material characterization.

Dr. Oelker has hands-on experience with small molecule and polymer synthesis, modification, and purification as well as hydrogel design, cross-linking, and characterization. She is skilled in molecular characterization techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, fluorometry, dynamic light scattering (DLS), ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, gel permeation chromatography (GPC), and gas chromatography techniques such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In addition, she has an extensive background in materials characterization techniques including microscopy (optical, confocal), rheology, nanoindentation, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and profilometry.

Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Oelker was a postdoctoral associate in the department of chemical engineering at MIT where she developed polypeptide hydrogel substrates with independently tunable stiffness, permeability, and ligand presentation for the study of disease mechanisms and in vitro therapeutic testing. This research built upon her graduate work at Boston University, where she synthesized and characterized a variety of polymers for use as surgical adhesives and implants.