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Spain honours U of T mathematics professor

Recognized for his economic forecasting application

Francisco Pascual de la Parte presents Luis Seco the Caballero de la Orden del Merito Civil award. (Photo by Jon Horvatin)

Luis Seco, a mathematics professor and director of RiskLab at the University of Toronto, was given Spain's prestigious Caballero de la Orden del Merito Civil award Dec. 1. Seco was honoured for his application of mathematics to foresee economic cycles, a model that has been useful in a number of other countries, including Spain.

Francisco Pascual de la Parte, the Consul General of Spain, spoke of how proud he was and how positive the ministry of foreign affairs was to present the medal and certificate to Seco at the Fields Institute this afternoon.

Seco said he’s just as proud and excited for the award and what it represents.

“It’s recognition of what we’re all made of, and in my days, it’s U of T, the Fields Institute, the RiskLab, it’s my company Sigma, it’s all the things that contribute to make you who you are. To me that’s the best part of this, it’s the recognition of all the different pieces that came together to make something good.

“I’m happy U of T makes it possible for these things to happen. It speaks to the innovation that happens here.”

Established in 1926 by King Don Alfonso XIII of Spain, the Caballero de la Orden del Merito Civil award recognizes the extraordinary service by foreign and domestic citizens in favour of the Spanish nation. The award is proposed by the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister and is given in the name of the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos I.

Seco founded RiskLab at U of T in 1996 as part of an international network devoted to conducting university-industry research initiatives in the mathematical sciences for risk management.  RiskLab provides the financial industry with an opportunity to address its needs through cutting-edge research and through industry-sponsored projects. It also enables faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students to interact with financial institutions.

In 2007, Seco, together with Risklab’s sponsor, Algorithmics, received the Synergy Award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada for research to create financial software that identifies and manages the risks involved in complex financial instruments. Seco is also president and CEO of Sigma Analysis & Management Ltd.