Faculty Focus: Andrew Bortvin

Faculty Focus: Andrew Bortvin

Andrew Bortvin is PhD student from the CMDB program in Rajiv McCoy’s lab. Andrew has recently co-taught the intersession course – Modeling Biological Populations.

Describe your primary research or scholarship, and tell us what is most exciting about your current project.

I’m a computational biologist interested in evolution. Specifically, I am interested in the way that large DNA changes, collectively called structural variants, can contribute to adaptation. I am developing tools that can detect such variants in population genetic datasets and can test for signatures of evolutionary selection. My favorite part of this work is the versatility—I love designing a method and then applying it to different biological systems of varying complexity, from humans to underwater worms.

Share a best practice or tip for successful teaching or mentoring.

When I first started teaching, I felt pressure to come across as an expert on everything, but I became much more effective as an instructor when I embraced not having the answer to every question. I like getting a tough question from a student and telling them that I don’t know the answer immediately, but that we can try and figure it out together. I hope that it makes my teaching style feel more collaborative and I hope it also helps reduce the pressure that students feel to always have the right answer.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I play the piano and the harpsichord—I particularly love Baroque music and early music in general. I’m also a big fan of going on bike rides and hikes and, more recently, rock climbing.