Susan Ling likes the clarity of mathematics – the absolute right and wrong with no gray areas.
“To me, math makes sense in a world where there is a lot of chaos,” says the assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Mobile.
She grew up in a home where both parents were math teachers – there were always math discussions around the house. Ling did well in the subject and tutored fellow students during high school – one of her first steps toward a career as a mathematics professor.
“I was – and still am – one of those people who would rather work a math problem than write a paper or discuss politics,” she says.
Math isn’t her only passion – whether she’s running a 5k with her daughters or on a bike ride with the whole family, she likes being outdoors.
“Being outside is where I feel closest to God. A morning run is where I have my best prayer time,” Ling says. “I want each and every person to know the Lord and walk with Him.”
Read on to learn how Ling became a mathematics professor and what you can do with a mathematics degree from this Christ-centered university.
Q. Why should someone choose to study mathematics at the University of Mobile?
A. Mathematics gives us the tools to explain and communicate the design of the world that God created. There are many options for a graduate with a degree in mathematics.
You can choose to work with people teaching, go on to graduate school for further study, or work in an industry in areas such as insurance or statistics.
Q. How did you become a mathematics professor?
A. I am originally from Bay Minette, Alabama. I attended Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where I received my bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I then earned my master’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
I spent several years working as an actuarial analyst at Liberty National Life Insurance in Birmingham. Actuarial science is a great field for someone with a degree in mathematics since it relies heavily on probability, algebra, calculus, finance, and computer skills.
I enjoyed the challenging work of an actuary. However, family and company changes brought me back to Baldwin County in 2006. I was an assistant professor of mathematics at the university level before coming to the University of Mobile in 2021.
Q. Why do you choose to teach in the College of Arts & Sciences at UM?
A. The students at UM are the NICEST students I have ever taught. I bragged on them all during my first year to anyone who would listen. (That’s what I like the most!) I choose to teach at UM because I love the atmosphere, coworkers and students.
Q. What is your favorite class to teach?
A. In my first year at UM I taught several algebra courses (MA102, 110, and 112) and Structure of Mathematics (MA107). Structure of Mathematics is my favorite course to teach.
The course covers several different areas of mathematics that students are often not as familiar with, such as number theory, probability and statistics. Each area contains interesting real-world applications, and some really fun problems to work!
Q. We say UM is a place where students can “Know and Be Known.” What does that mean to you?
A. It may take me a few weeks, but I will learn each student’s name, and usually where they are from and what they are interested in. The students will learn mathematics, but they will also learn that their professor cares about them as a person.
Q. What are some of your other interests?
A. Whether it’s running a 5k with my daughters, or a bike ride or hike with the whole family, I enjoy being outside and active. I also lift weights, and take Pilates and Yoga classes.
My brain is constantly moving, and exercising clears my mind and keeps me sane. My first priority and passion are teaching my own three children.