Andrew David Robertson, 55, of Iowa City, IA and Portland, OR, passed away on Thursday, August 14, 2014 in Portland, OR. A memorial celebration for Andy will be in Manhattan Beach, CA on October 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm at the Neptunian Club. A memorial gathering is planned in Iowa City at a later date. Andy was born February 20, 1959 in Gardena, CA to David Thomas and Maureen (Kelly) Robertson. He graduated from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA, where he ran cross-country and track, worked at Piece O’ Pizza and gained a passion for creating the perfect pizza crust from his Grandmother Ruth’s recipe. He earned a...
Andrew David Robertson, 55, of Iowa City, IA and Portland, OR, passed away on Thursday, August 14, 2014 in Portland, OR.
A memorial celebration for Andy will be in Manhattan Beach, CA on October 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm at the Neptunian Club. A memorial gathering is planned in Iowa City at a later date.
Andy was born February 20, 1959 in Gardena, CA to David Thomas and Maureen (Kelly) Robertson. He graduated from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA, where he ran cross-country and track, worked at Piece O’ Pizza and gained a passion for creating the perfect pizza crust from his Grandmother Ruth’s recipe. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of California at San Diego. While in San Diego, he studied anchovy DNA damage at Scripps, prenatal testing for Tay Sachs disease with Dr. John O’Brien at UCSD, and he enjoyed the outrigger canoe club.
Andy received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with Dr. John Markley, using NMR to study protein structure and dynamics. While in Madison, he met the love of his life, fellow biochemistry graduate student Sue Travis. Together they moved to San Francisco and were post-doctoral fellows at Stanford, where Andy studied RNAse folding with Dr. Robert “Buzz” Baldwin. During this time, Andy also volunteered at Año Nuevo Marine Reserve; he loved being active outdoors.
In May 1988, Andy and Sue married, and in 1991 they moved to Iowa City, where Andy worked to become a full professor of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa. Together they proudly raised two wonderful daughters, Kelly and Sarah. Having children inspired him to convert his old violin into a fiddle, and he later became a founding member of The Beggarmen band, and served as a music volunteer with Iowa City Hospice. He loved exploring, traveling, and being outside with his family, whether he was gardening with Sue, pulling his daughters on a sled through the snow, grumbling when they jumped in his leaf piles, tossing them over the ocean waves, or punting down the River Cam in Cambridge. He and Sue established many beloved family traditions in Iowa, such as enjoying the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band and pizza at The Mill, and visiting the Johnson County Fiddler's Picnic and the Old Thresher's Reunion.
Andy became Director of Medical Communications at Merck, Inc. in 2004, and then served as Chief Scientific Officer at Keystone Symposia in Colorado beginning in 2005 where he found his true passion in helping others through non-profit organizations. At Keystone, Andy developed innovative meeting programs to bridge academic and industrial research, he liked to call them “nerd camps,” and he spearheaded Keystone’s diversity efforts to encourage participation of women and underrepresented minority investigators. He co-founded the Keystone Fellows program, a diversity-centered program to educate and include early-career scientists. He also found time to ski at least 40 days of the season and to learn fly-fishing, and he enjoyed spending time with friends at the Cala Inn near his home.
In 2011, Andy moved to Heidelberg to serve as the scientific coordinator of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training. While in Germany he and his bicycle explored the scenery and history of the area, he enjoyed good food and beer, and always remembered to send pictures back to his family. In 2012, he became the Chief Scientific and Medical Officer for the National Psoriasis Foundation in Portland, Oregon. He was excited to connect researchers with patients and health care providers. One of his main areas of interest was patient participation in designing research projects.
Andy was an incredibly loving father, husband, son, brother, and uncle. He was a gifted teacher, friend and a valued mentor to many people around the world. He had a great passion for helping those around him and connecting people with complimentary interests. He was brilliant, curious, cheerful, encouraging, and generous. He loved history, reading, and cooking, and he made lasting friendships wherever he went. His joy and excitement for life will always be remembered.
Survivors include his wife, Sue Travis of Iowa City, IA; two daughters, Kelly Robertson of Encinitas, CA and Sarah Robertson of Olympia, WA; his mother, Maureen Kelly Robertson of Manhattan Beach, CA; and two brothers, Geoffrey Robertson of the Philippines and China, and Matthew (Robin) Robertson of Encinitas, CA. He was preceded in death by his father; his grandparents, Earl T. and Blanche (Miller) Robertson, and Peter and Ruth (Barker) Kelly; and his beloved Aunt Thelma Robertson.
To honor Andy's commitment to diversity and inclusion, memorial donations in honor of Andy may be directed to SACNAS www.sacnas.org, or ABRCMS www.abrcms.org, or make checks payable to Keystone Symposia with "Andy Robertson Fund for Diversity in Life Science" listed on the note line of the check (mail to Keystone Symposia, P.O. Box 1630, Silverthorne, CO 80498 USA).