Using nuclear energy peacefully was the decisive factor for the foundation of the Austrian Study Association for Atomic Energy in Seibersdorf in 1956. Until 1971, the physicist Michael J. Higatsberger was scientific and technical director.
He studied at the University of Vienna and received his doctorate in 1949, followed by periods at the University of Minnesota, the Research Laboratory Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, and Catholic University in Washington. In 1971 he was appointed full professor of experimental physics in Vienna.
Higatsberger authored several books on the physics of nuclear reactors, high vacuum technology, and electron optics, among others. He filed 73 Austrian and foreign patents and received several awards, including the Great Golden Decoration of Honor of the Province of Styria and the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art. He was a member of the British Nuclear Energy Society and the European Committee of the Weizmann Institute of Science.