Dr. Fryer, who has been named a “Rising Star” by Fortune magazine and was featured in Esquire’s “Genius Issue,” has been profiled in the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe. He is also known for having collaborated with co-authors economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner on the bestselling book “Freakonomics.”
Fryer, an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, was appointed to the faculty at age 25.
While studying for his doctorate in economics from Pennsylvania State University, which he earned in three years, Fryer said he became frustrated by the use of sophisticated mathematical models to study the game Battle of the Sexes, as well as “the optimal chopstick problem.”
In the meantime, he said to one audience, so-called research on topics including affirmative action was based all too often upon anecdotes.
“The plural form of anecdote is not to be confused with data,” he said. “If we want to make progress in terms of racial inequality or gender inequality, if we really want to do something, if we really ever want to think about achieving that dream that Martin Luther King Jr. talked about not long ago, then we’re going to need science and community action based on that science.”
Fryer attended the University of Texas on a football scholarship, but he stopped playing football after becoming immersed in the study of mathematics, earning his degree there in two-and-a-half years. He entered the public eye in 2005 following the publication of an extensive New York Times profile titled “Toward a Unified Theory of Black America.”
Fryer, who is also associate director of the DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research, received the 2007 Sloan Research Fellowship in economics.