Philipp Koellinger: Professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Educational/professional background: My educational background is in economics, and I received my PhD from Humboldt University Berlin. I loved studying there, in historic buildings in the center of the city where people like Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Robert Koch, and Werner Heisenberg once did their world-changing work.
Previous position: I went through the ranks at the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam and was then offered a full professorship at the University of Amsterdam. From there, I moved to Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam as full professor in economics. I still hold a courtesy appointment at the VU and continue doing research with my colleagues there.
How did you get into your field of research? Most of my research is in behavioral genetics, which seems far removed from economics, but actually isn’t. My work became more and more interdisciplinary and driven by new, big data over the years. How I got into this was a mixture of deep curiosity and luck in the form of opportunities that presented themselves over the years. I am deeply grateful that I had the opportunity to follow my curiosity rather than having to stick to narrowly defined disciplinary boundaries. I think this freedom has greatly benefited my work.
What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter during video chats (and eventually parties)? Our genes partly influence how much alcohol we tend to drink and (you probably will not like to hear this) – even moderate amounts of alcohol cause brain damage, as little as two drinks per day.
Hobbies/other interests: I used to play piano in concert halls as a kid, I started a basketball club in Berlin, I’m a registered cat breeder in the Netherlands, and I love traveling and good food.