Dr. Oesterle received her Ph.D. from Purdue University followed by a fellowship at the University of Washington. She joined the UW Otolaryngology faculty in 1992.

Dr. Oesterle’s specialty was neuroscience, and her research interests focused on the anatomy and physiology of the inner ear. The discovery that non-mammalian vertebrates can regenerate sensory hair cells (auditory and vestibular hair cells) after damage introduced the possibility of therapies to treat hearing and balance disorders in humans. Dr. Oesterle's research aimed at identifying factors that can stimulate inner ear sensory epithelial cells to re-enter the mitotic cycle and stimulate the production of new receptor cells (hair cells). Her research aided in the development of therapies to alleviate sensori-neural hearing disorders.

Dr. Oesterle was a research affiliate at the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center and the Center on Human Development and Disability and was principal investigator for over two decades of NIH/NIDCD-funded studies on hair cell regeneration and regulatory signals. She was an ad hoc reviewer for Auditory Neuroscience, Brain Research, Hearing Research, Histology and Histopathology, Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Journal of Comparative Neurology, Journal of Neurobiology, Journal of Neurocytology, and Journal of Neuroscience. During her career, Dr. Oesterle enjoyed mentoring graduate and undergraduate students, medical students, residents, postdocs, professional staff, and faculty on a wide variety of research questions. 

Dr. Oesterle retired in 2015.