Andrew David Robertson

February 20, 1959August 14, 2014

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, or ABRCMS, 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).


Andrew David Robertson

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Oliver Baker

March 14, 2016

I worked for Andy only briefly, but I always enjoyed my conversations with him. I envied his ability to network and foster collaborations, how widely read and informed he was about science and everything else, and was in awe that he somehow made time for family and exercise and a life outside work. He struck me as deeply compassionate, as well as canny. The world is worse off without him, and far too soon. I'm shocked to discover he's gone.

Shawn Rose

June 9, 2015

I only met Andy a couple of times through NPF functions. But his passion and commitment to this cause and his general good nature left a lasting impression.

Bonnie Aidelman

December 2, 2014

I rode the subway with Andy after a meeting of the National Psoriasis Foundation in Manhattan a couple of years ago. He made an impression on me with his enthusiasm and interest in patients and medical research. When the NPF Bulletin came in the mail, I always looked for the latest on what he had to say. What a loss to his family, and to us.

Nick Reiter

November 6, 2014

So sorry to hear this news. Deepest condolences to Andy's family. I met Andy at a Keystone Conference ~15 years ago and his advice on balancing life and research has stayed with me and has helped to shape my career trajectory. Such a kind and generous person.

Natalie Ahn

November 6, 2014

Goodbye Andy, my beloved friend and colleague! I'll miss your smile, your jokes and your good company. Sending my sincere condolences to all members of your family, at this very sad time.

John R. Engen

November 5, 2014

I am terribly sorry to hear the news about Andy. You have my deepest condolences. 15-20 years ago, or so, I came to know him, I don't remember when exactly. Andy was a role model to some of the younger people interested in becoming faculty. He gave me some great advice which I have never forgotten. I hadn't crossed paths with him for some time, but I have always been, and will forever be, in his debt for how he helped me.

Susi Bendheim

October 25, 2014

Andy was always a helpful HS classmate at MCHS, a sweet gentleman, and I was so thrilled to reconnect with him again years ago. I was looking forward to many more fun meetings, and he even offered to help my daughter and any of her friends plan their academic paths while at UCSD 12 years ago. What a treat! He was a lovely family man and friend. Andy will be massively missed by far too many who appreciated and loved him.

Leslie McCarter

October 24, 2014

Andy is one of my oldest friends. I am so sorry to all the Robertsons. Maureen, I will come visit when i am home. Sorry i wont bé at the memorial. XOXO

Ed Gillan

October 22, 2014

You all have my deepest condolences. I was shocked to see Andy's photo in the Press Citizen a couple of days ago. I used to run into Andy at Java House when he was back in IC. We'd catch up on his latest adventures around the world. He was always so cool to talk to and upbeat about his new adventures. I am also an LA boy transplanted to Iowa and it felt really comfortable and easy catching up with Andy (Angeleno to Angeleno). He will be missed!

Maja and Jan Jensen

October 21, 2014

We are sorry for the loss of Andy to the family, friends, and the world. It is comforting to read how he shared his enthusiasm with so many people.