Vicki Bier

Professor Emerita

Department of Engineering | Industrial and Systems Engineering

Hometown: Tucson, AZ

Vicki Bier is Professor Emerita in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Department of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she directed the Center for Human Performance and Risk Analysis (formerly the Center for Human Performance in Complex Systems) from 1995 until 2021. She has over 30 years of experience in risk analysis for the nuclear power, chemical, petrochemical, and aerospace industries. Dr. Bier’s research focuses on applications of risk analysis and related methods to problems of security, critical infrastructure protection, climate change, and pandemic response. Dr. Bier was elected a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis in 1996, from which she received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2007. She served as the engineering editor for Risk Analysis from 1997 through 2001, and is currently the Editor in Chief of Decision Analysis.


  • Protecting against intentional attacks on homeland security is fundamentally different from protecting against accidents or acts of nature. In particular, an intelligent and adaptable adversary may adopt a different offensive strategy in response to our protective security measures, in order to circumvent or disable them. Game theory provides a way of taking this into account. Thus, security can benefit from game-theoretic methods. This talk discusses approaches for applying game theory to the problem of defending systems against attack. The results yield insights into the nature of optimal defensive investments.

    Approximate Length of Talk: variable length

  • This talk presents both research findings and personal anecdotes showing how social factors such as stereotypes, learning environments, and bias can diminish girls’ and women’s achievements and interest in scientific fields. It also highlights practical steps that can help encourage and support girls and women.
  • In the face of sea-level rise, encouraging pre-flood retreat can be an effective way to reduce disaster damage, especially for vulnerable coastal cities. I find that government incentives can help to encourage voluntary relocation away from the most at-risk areas.
  • The state of Wisconsin is beginning to reopen after months of public health closures to stop the spread of COVID-19. I discuss the reopening efforts. There is an understandable inclination to hurry, but there are also good reasons for moving slowly.
  • Risk Assessment of Extreme Events
  • Homeland Security
  • Risk Analysis of Nuclear Power Plants

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