DNAnexus Snapshot: Five Minutes with Evan Worley

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.


This week we’re talking to Evan Worley, a software engineer and the first non-founder employee at DNAnexus. Since joining in June 2009, Evan has added to his computer science expertise by learning about biology and genetics from the rest of the team.

Q: What do you do at DNAnexus?
A: I’ve been at DNAnexus since the early days, so I often joke by saying “I interview candidates” as I’ve spent months of time interviewing, in aggregate. In reality, I’m a software engineer and I tend to work on web technologies. I enjoy tackling a mix of both back end and front end problems. I spent a good amount of time working on the Genome Browser.

Q: Where did you work before?
A: Before joining DNAnexus, I was working at Intuit on the next-generation tax modeling and calculation engine.

Q: What was it about DNAnexus that attracted you to the company?
A: I’ve always wanted to be part of an exciting, fast-paced startup. After a few phone calls with our CEO, Andreas Sundquist, I was convinced that DNAnexus faced some of the most interesting problems in the field.

Q: What have you learned since joining the company?
A: A lot! DNAnexus is full of extremely intelligent people, and I’ve soaked up as much as possible from them. In addition to everyday computer science discussions, I’ve also picked up a healthy amount of biology/genetics knowledge and terminology. I’ve also learned that building a team is a very difficult and time-consuming venture.

Q: If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
A: I’d be a professional soccer player for the LA Galaxy.

Q: What person had the greatest influence on where you are today?
A: I’d have to say Gary Gillespie, who taught CSE 12 (Data Structures) at the University of California, San Diego. CSE 12 was my first challenging computer science course, and I was engrossed with the material and projects. I later became a tutor for the class and developed strong relationships with my fellow tutors, who became invaluable partners in future courses and projects.

Q: Fill in the blank; there is probably a genetic link to _____
A: Personality. I’m very curious about the nature versus nurture tradeoff when it comes to personality and general outlook.

Q: If you could have anyone in history’s genome sequenced, whose would it be? Why?
A: Usain Bolt. Have you seen that man run?

Q: If you had your genome sequenced, what would you hope to find (or not find)?
A: Seeing the terrible effects of Alzheimer’s, I would hope to find that I am not likely to develop it.

Q: Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody at DNAnexus knows.
A: Shortly after finishing high school, I was certain I wanted to be a computer engineer. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I “knew” writing software would be extremely boring. It only took two electrical engineering courses and one computer science course for me to change majors from computer engineering to computer science. I haven’t met any resistance since shifting my focus to the software side.

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