Chapter 18: David Lando

“David Lando holds a master’s degree from the joint mathematics-economics program at the University of Copenhagen. While at the university he became particularly interested in probability theory and stochastic modeling, which also became the focal point of his thesis. While getting his Ph.D. at Cornell University in the United States, he invented models in which he used stochastic modeling to  analyze credit risk. His inventions were recognized worldwide and led to his becoming internationally known. Despite the fact that he is now a highly respected researcher with a long list of cited articles published in leading journals, he nevertheless attributes his greatest breakthroughs to education and his early career.”

“It was the mix of being trained in economics and being able to do a lot of math and probability theory. The mathematics/economics programs in Denmark have been spectacularly successful. There are very strong traditions in Denmark for mathematically based economics and for econometrics, i.e., statistical method in economics. Mathematics/economics education, which is founded in mathematics and statistics, has significantly strengthened these traditions. By the time I finished my master’s degree, I had learned things that you only learn, if ever, in advanced doctoral studies in the United States.”

“On top of a curious mind and the ability and willingness to work hard to get the best out of a good opportunity, it meant a lot to Lando’s career that he came to the United States at the right time. The US research environment was much stronger than the Danish one, and he was always surrounded by researchers with great insight. And when his supervisor in financial economics gave him an attractive job opportunity, he was encouraged to stay and continue his work in the US.”

“After I received my Ph.D. I actually got offers both from the Wharton school at the University of Pennesylvania and from INSEAD in Paris. I’m almost famous for saying no thanks to Wharton: who would choose Copenhagen over Wharton? But I went back to my institute in Copenhagen, to my family, and to establish a new education. Retrospectively, it was probably a bit of a mistake, but on the other hand, one of my first thesis students, Lasse Heje Pedersen, is now one of the world’s best financial researchers of his generation. But career-wise, it would have been smarter to pick Wharton.”

You can read the full portrait of Professor David Lando by downloading the chapter below. (In Danish)

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