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September 13, 2001 Actuarial mathematician wins coveted doctoral scholarship



Esteban Flores, Dr. Garrido
Esteban Flores (left) hopes to launch ChileÕs first actuarial mathematics program. His research at Concordia was supervised by Josˇ Garrido (right).

Photo by Christian Fleury

by Barbara Black

Esteban Flores is leaving Montreal with some sadness, but he’s taking a valuable experience with him. He is returning to Chile in the hope of launching that country’s first actuarial mathematics program.

Flores has just been awarded a PhD scholarship from the Casualty Actuarial Society and Society of Actuaries for 2001/02. The scholarship is worth $10,000 US, and is renewable.

Flores did his bachelor’s degree at the University of Talca, and his master’s at the University of Concepción, also in Chile. During his six years teaching statistics at Talca, he got involved in research projects closely related to the actuarial field, which provides expertise to insurance companies.

“That is how I learned that there were no actuarial programs in Chile,” he explained. “As my interest in actuarial applications grew, I decided to study in a PhD program abroad. Concordia’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics offered me a place where I could fulfill my plans.”

With the support of the University of Talca, Flores has been studying here under the supervision of Professor José Garrido.

Dr. Garrido is delighted with his student’s scholarship. He explained that there is a lot of competition for them; only four or five are awarded every year to all North American applicants.

“It is the first time that a Concordia PhD student has been awarded one, and only the second time a Concordia student has applied,” he said.

“Most actuaries go on to practice when they graduate from university, and who can blame them?” Garrido went on. “The job market is extremely good. They get good job offers essentially where they want in North America and with very attractive salaries.

“The scholarships program was designed to entice a larger number of actuaries to return to graduate school and get involved in actuarial research and in teaching, thus ensuring future generations of well-trained actuaries.”

Flores said, “I feel at home in Montreal, and it is hard to leave my life in Canada. I spent around four years here — I only went back to Chile one time — and during that time I had a lot of positive experiences in this country.

“Just to mention one, my stay exposed me to an anglophone community composed of people coming from different cultural backgrounds. That alone made it an enriching experience.

“I will be leaving behind many people who supported me and whom I am happy to have as friends. I’m especially indebted to Professor Garrido for his support and friendship.”

Flores is doing the last stages of his research in Chile this fall, and will be back in March to defend his thesis.