DNAnexus Snapshot: Five Minutes with Martin Bednar

In a series of Snapshot blog posts in the coming months, we’ll be spotlighting some of our fascinating team members to give you a better sense of who we are.


Q: What do you do at DNAnexus?
A: I am a User Experience Engineer. I play the advocate of a happy DNAnexus customer. My job is to learn about our users and translate their needs and wants into user interface (UI) design. That means mainly drawing a lot of sketches, wireframes, or mockups — essentially what looks like a screen capture of a complete product — and validating those with a representative sample of our users. I work with the rest of the team to assure the UI meets our business requirements and that the designs can be delivered from the development standpoint.

Q: What do you focus on when designing a user interface?
A: We need to achieve balance between meeting our current users’ needs and coming up with new and exciting, visionary things. We think about what users need and what they’re used to, but also about being innovative in ways that will open their eyes and empower them to do the previously impossible.

Q: Where did you work before?
A: DNAnexus is my second full-time position after graduate school. Before DNAnexus, I worked as a user experience designer at VMware, a cloud computing and virtualization leader, where I helped design interfaces for large-scale virtual data center monitoring and management.

Q: What was it about DNAnexus that attracted you to the company?
A: It was clear to me from the get-go that DNAnexus is a great place to be. The main points for me were: strong leadership by renowned genomics and bioinformatics experts; extremely smart and passionate colleagues; tough, big data visualization problems; and the opportunity to innovate and set the example for the whole field of cloud-based genome analysis.

Q: If you could say one thing to DNAnexus users, what would it be?
A: I would like to invite them to send their comments and feedback to our product using the website’s contacts section or directly to product@dnanexus.com.

Q: What have you learned since joining the company?
A: That there are always new things to learn.

Q: What would you do if you weren’t a user experience engineer?
A: I am having a hard time deciding between a skydiving instructor and a sailboat captain, so I am going to generalize and say adventure guide. I have always liked fresh air and some adrenaline — while I have an office job I try to balance it out by outdoor activities on the weekends.

Q: What person had the greatest influence on where you are today?
A: I feel like my parents are the ones who deserve to be mentioned.

Q: Fill in the blank; there is probably a genetic link to _________
A: Tobacco addiction.

Q: If you could have anyone in history’s genome sequenced, whose would it be? Why?
A: Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps compared to history’s other brilliant artists and masterminds.

Q: If you had your genome sequenced, what would you hope to find (or not find)?
A: I would hope I’m not related to Paris Hilton.