Jeff Baker

Ph.D. 2007

Career: Software Engineer Consultant, McCall Technology (Atlanta, GA); Software Engineer, Electronic Healthcare Systems, Inc. (Birmingham, AL); Portfolio Analyst, Southern Company


  • B.S. 1997, Mathematics, Samford University
  • M.S. 1999, Applied Mathematics, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Ph.D. 2007, Applied Mathematics, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Since my high school AP calculus class, I had always dreamed of obtaining a Ph.D. in mathematics. I am most grateful to the UAB mathematics department for allowing me to finish this lifelong goal. I believe the two critical components that led to my success at UAB were the size of the department, which allowed close and available access to the professors, and to my advisor, who led me to an interesting problem and helped maintain the focus I needed to finish my Ph.D. as quickly as possible. My years at UAB were some of the most memorable of my life. During my tenure, I entered my early thirties, had my first child, published my first academic paper, and met some of the smartest and most interesting people from around the world.

I am not sure if a Ph.D. program totally prepares anyone for “the real world,” or a career outside of academics or scientific research. In industry, a Ph.D. in an analytical field primarily provides a strong degree of credibility and the belief that you can solve really hard problems “where spreadsheets fail.” At Southern Company I’ve had the opportunity to work on several problems, which in and of themselves, one could devote an entire Ph.D. Such problems range from developing production cost models for power systems, auction clearing algorithms, trading strategies, and risk management strategies for heavily weighted one sided penalty functions.