Options Magazine, Winter 2022: Michael Freiberger is a mathematical economist who uses dynamic modeling to tackle risk related problems.
Born in Upper Austria, Freiberger studied statistics and applied mathematics in economics at the Technical University of Vienna, where he obtained his PhD earlier this year. After working for the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, he joined the IIASA Economic Frontiers Program as a researcher in 2021.
Currently, he is working on a project that tries to assess the impact of household characteristics on decision making in flood-stricken areas. Using data from Thailand and Vietnam, together with his team, he aims to further calibrate the model and develop a framework that can later be applied to disaster-prone areas across the globe.
When asked what drew him to the institute, he replies: “As a mathematician, I think it is crucial that we describe both physical and social processes using system dynamics, which is still often overlooked in applied economic research. At IIASA, the diversity of disciplines and approaches prompts you to think and work across boundaries, which is vital for making predictions that policymakers can rely on.”
Freiberger’s penchant for complex modeling and risk prevention also extends to his free time. As the quarterback of the Austrian flag football team “Honeybees” – a variant of American football that reduces the risk of injury by replacing tackling with flag-pulling – he distributes the ball to other players and makes sure the game runs smoothly, thereby occupying the strategically most important position on the field.
by Jakob Angeli