Paul Fischbeck is a professor in the Departments of Engineering and Public Policy and Social and Decision Making Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Fischbeck applies the tools of decision analysis and behavioral social science to policy problems, paying particular attention to the quantification and communication of uncertainty. This work covers both theoretical improvements to decision analysis and numerous applied real-world problems.

Using a systems approach, Fischbeck has studied a variety of topical problems. Working closely with graduate students, he has quantified the pollution caused by international shipping and is investigating several engineering and economic solutions. He is director of the Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation and has an active research program in understanding and improving risk communication and the design of effective decision support systems.

Recently, Fischbeck has studied the actual and perceived risks of mine subsidence in Western Pennsylvania, insurance-buying behavior in the United States and Japan, warning labels on paint strippers, and the health and environmental concerns of citizens in the Pittsburgh area. Other work includes an investigation of organizational reliability from a probabilistic risk analysis (PRA) perspective. A PRA study is often used to understand the reliability of a technical system (like the space shuttle), but it is only by including the organizational features that a true understanding of the risk and failure modes can be modeled. This more global perspective allows for the establishment of priorities for the allocation of a wide range of scarce resources including money, time, supervisory personnel, and test equipment.

208F Baker/Porter Hall


1991 Ph.D., Industrial Engineering/Engineering Management, Stanford University

1981 M.S., Operations Research, Naval Postgraduate School

1974 B.S., Architecture, University of Virginia

Research Interests

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

New tool for energy sector models carbon capture incentives

A new model shows utilities and policymakers how technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be used to reduce CO2 emissions from existing and new power plants while minimizing costs.

CMU Engineering

Are Democratic and Republican energy policies actually that different?

While current proposed energy policies from the Democratic and Republican parties may sound different, new research from the Department of Engineering and Public Policy has found that they may actually lead to similar emissions outcomes—at least in the short term.

CMU Engineering

Cutting vehicle emissions and inspections via IoT

A new system using remote data transfers and machine learning could cut vehicle emissions, lower testing costs, and drastically reduce the need for in-person emissions testing.

Huffington Post, Marketplace Morning Report

Fischbeck quoted on Thanksgiving’s carbon footprint

EPP’s Paul Fischbeck estimates the carbon emissions associated with all facets of the Thanksgiving holiday. “If you look at the meal itself, about half of the emissions come from the growing and the transportation of the food,” said Fischbeck on Marketplace Morning Report. “The other half comes from the cooking of the food.”

CMU Engineering

Overeating at Thanksgiving has a carbon footprint

From the ingredients to the cooking to the travel, CMU researchers tally up the carbon footprint of Thanksgiving.

CMU Engineering

Regulators have been giving utilities higher returns. Why?

Electric utility regulators claim to use a model to decide how much a utility should earn. But the data don’t support that idea, as returns to utilities have steadily risen over the past 40 years.


Anderson and Fischbeck on natural gas and climate

Vox reported on Paul Fischbeck's research into how natural gas prices could affect whether the US meets emissions reduction goals.

Triple Pundit

Fischbeck and Zhai believe US could still meet Clean Power Plan target

Research by EPP’s Paul Fischbeck and Haibo Zhai is featured in Triple Pundit.

Environmental Science & Technology

Fischbeck and Zhai discuss US energy policy

EPP's Paul Fischbeck and Haibo Zhai discuss US energy policy relative to emissions reductions after the exit from the Paris Climate Agreement.

CMU Engineering

Aging power plants provide risks and opportunities

When it comes to the current plans to retire U.S. power plants, Carnegie Mellon University researchers believe we are “running towards a cliff with no fence.”