Jonathan E. Baker
Last updated 12/2/2013 at 9:34am
Jonathan Eugene Baker, 40, of San Francisco, Calif. died unexpectedly Nov. 18, 2013.
Born April 12, 1973, in Brevard, he was the beloved son of Sally Kemp and Eugene R. Baker of Brevard. In addition to his parents, he is survived by his sister, Meg Baker Buchanan and husband Travis; niece, Gracie Carrick and nephews, Baker and Grant Buchanan, all of Brevard.
In San Francisco, he was employed by Alexa Internet, a subsidiary of Amazon.com.
As Minister of Data, he was responsible for some of the most complex and important data analysis at Alexa, generating website popularity and engagement metrics that are used by millions of digital marketers, web publishers, and investors worldwide.
"Jonathan held himself to very high standards and his relentless insistence on quality served as a shining example for us all. He brought joy to our lives with his truly unique personality and diverse interests," according to Dave Sherfesee, Alexa general manager.
Jonathan attended Transylvania County Schools. When he was seven, he developed an interest in astronomy. Nov. 8, 1985, he spotted Halley's comet from the Blue Ridge Parkway at 10:43 p.m,, using his 10-inch deep space reflector telescope. Earlier that summer he won a blue ribbon and a red merit ribbon for astronomy and space exploration displays at the national Boy Scout Jamboree. His photo of the moon won 1st place in Earth Science at the WCU Science Festival.
He was also an accomplished pianist and played clarinet in the concert band at Brevard High. He was named first chair clarinet in the all-state band.
He was a national merit finalist and received the Ecusta National Merit scholarship. In 1990 he graduated from N.C. School of Science and Math, where he was named Student Leader of the Year and awarded the Golden Scroll for scholastic achievement.
From 1990 – 1994, he was a student at California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Calif., where he received a Caltech Merit Prize (full tuition), a Robert A. Milliken Scholarship, and a Barry Goldwater Scholarship for Science and Engineering. He earned a B.S. in physics (with honor).
In 1994, he entered the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. As an instructor, he designed curriculum and taught a new non-technical course on the history of cosmology to 30 undergraduates and was a T.A. for astrophysics at all levels.
He received his M.A. in astronomy and was a Ph.D. candidate, in astrophysics.
As a researcher at both Caltech and U.C. Berkeley, he developed N-body software for large cosmological simulations and designed new statistical methods for determining cosmological parameters from large astronomical datasets; achieved the world's first precise measurements of the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect; developed software for radio signal processing and data analysis. He had five publications in refereed journals and three invited lectures.
His love of nature and adventure led him to travel throughout the world. On his first trip to China in 2001, he served as a diplomatic courier. Other trips to Asia included Japan, Thailand, and Tibet. In 2004, he biked from Lhasa to Kathmandu in the Himalayas. In 2005 he spent a six-week sabbatical in Europe. Later he visited Peru and Mexico. His last trip was to South America, where he spent time in Brazil, Argentina, and Chili.
Last summer he participated in the Aids/Life Cycle, a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which covered 545 miles. This annual event raises money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in honor of Jonathan may be made to B-DRPC music fund or pre-school program, 249 E. Main St, Brevard, NC 28712; San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, 833 Market St. 10th floor, San Francisco, CA 94103; or San Francisco Symphony, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA 94102.
Online condolences may be left at http://www.moodycon nollyfuneral home.com.
Moody-Connolly Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of the arrangements.