22 May 2019

Tiago Flórido Obituary

Tiago Flórido

Tiago Flórido
July 9, 1991 – May 8, 2019

Tiago Flórido, a fourth-year doctoral student in Business Economics at Harvard, died at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center from cancer at the age of 27. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Tiago had been on a path to making an impact on the world through ideas. From his childhood dream of being a diplomat to a burgeoning career in macroeconomics research, he had hoped to eventually use his studies to guide policy in Brazil, and few doubted that he could. His friends remember his university professors describing him as “our best bet to lead our top institutions and change Brazil one day.”

Born in Rio de Janeiro in July 1991 to Luiz Flórido and Paula Tavares, Tiago’s intellect and work ethic were evident from an early age. He ranked first on the admission exam to PUC-Rio (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro), where he received a full-tuition scholarship, and second in Law at UERJ, the top institutions in Brazil for studying economics and law. His first semester as a college student, he enrolled as a full student in both institutions, commuting daily between the two universities to attend economics and law classes. He had the highest GPA in his cohort in both colleges, before eventually choosing to focus exclusively on economics.

While in college, Tiago spent one year in a study abroad program at UC Berkeley, where he explored his interest in graduate study in economics, making the Dean’s List in both semesters. He returned to PUC and was invited to enroll in their Master’s program while still completing his undergraduate studies.

In Tiago’s master’s thesis, “Transitions in Central Bank Leadership,” now under revision for publication in a top academic journal, he studied transitions between central bank governors and their signaling incentives to “look tough.” Using a large panel dataset that he assembled, Tiago showed that early in new central bank governors’ terms, monetary policy was unusually contractionary.

Based on an academic achievement one of his advisors described as “the best in the history of our undergraduate program,” Tiago was admitted to every economics PhD program he applied to, enrolling in the Harvard Business Economics PhD program in the fall of 2015. He sailed through the first two years of the program, completing field exams in macroeconomics and econometrics. In his second year, he began work with Gita Gopinath, a professor of international economics at Harvard, now on leave as chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.

Tiago was a gentle but adventurous spirit who cherished his friends and family. In addition to his work in economics, he loved history, literature, and traveling, and always wanted to learn and know more. He was loved by his many close friends in Cambridge and Brazil, who have mourned the loss over the past week: “His most remarkable quality was being completely comfortable with who he was… This confidence in himself also meant that he was generous and undiscriminating with his love for others. Being in his presence made you feel like the funniest, kindest, and most intelligent version of yourself.”

From the moment of Tiago’s initial diagnosis, he was surrounded by friends and his family, who moved for months at a time from Brazil to be with him. His strength in fighting the disease was an inspiration to many in the community. Just two weeks before he died, he was presenting new research ideas to students and faculty.

Tiago is survived by his parents Luiz Flórido and Paula Tavares, his sister Carolina Tavares Ferreira Lemos, and his partner Beatriz Vasconcellos.

A service was held on Saturday May 11 at St. Paul’s Parish in Cambridge.

Tiago was passionate about education, and dedicated his savings to ensure that his 10-year-old sister, Carol, received a good education in their hometown of Rio. Tiago's friends have set up a fundraising campaign so her education can be supported through high school. Gifts to the fund can be made online here.

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