American Physical Society

Amanda Joy McDonald - Actuary

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Job Info

American Fidelity

Job skills:
Complex problem solving
Synthesizing information
Mathematical skills
Modeling or simulation
Data analysis

Amanda Joy McDonald's Job:
"Actuaries design algorithms that help companies deal with risk. In the actuarial profession,  there's a lot of on-the-job training.  The distribution functions we derive don't fit a given set of equations.  One has to go back to first principles and derive results from scratch in each new situation--just as we were trained to do in our physics courses and research projects--not to memorize formulas but to think."

Career Facts

Employer Type:

Current Location:
Oklahoma City,, OK

Physics Degree:

Educational Information

BS - Physics,  Southern Nazarene University

More about Amanda Joy McDonald

Direct link to Amanda Joy McDonald's profile:

Amanda Joy McDonald


Joy earned a BS in physics from Southern Nazarene University,  Bethany,  OK,  in 1989,  where she published a paper in the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics. She was elected into Sigma Pi Sigma in the SNU chapter when it was chartered in
1994. Joy began her career as an actuary before graduation by taking the first actuarial exam in
November 1988.

Then life intervened. She took several years off from Fellowship studies to raise children while still working as an actuary for American Fidelity. In 2006,  realizing she was approaching the twentieth anniversary of starting the Fellows program,  Joy set a goal to achieve the FSA before that anniversary. That goal was realized a few months early when Joy completed the final requirement in July 2008. Joy concentrated her actuarial studies in Group and Health Insurance.

Joy has remained a highly visible "hidden physicist" throughout her actuarial career. She presents talks to university math clubs and chapters of the Society of Physics Students,  describing how a background in Physics prepares one well for actuarial studies.