Employee Spotlight - Dr. Andrew Brereton

Andrew is a Senior Computational Scientist currently working at Cyclica, Inc. in Toronto. At Cyclica, he works on the Innovation Team, developing and managing new projects designed to push the envelope in AI for Drug Discovery. He completed his Ph.D. in Biophysics in 2017 at Oregon State University, where he focused his research on mining the Protein DataBank (PDB) for information about protein geometry and dynamics and writing software for structural bioinformatics. Andrew is passionate about modeling, machine learning, entropy, open-source, and generative art. You can find him on Twitter @aebrer or read his latest newsletter at aebrer.xyz

What do you like about working at Cyclica? 

Cyclica has a very "people-focused" culture that drives everything we do. Firstly, in our work, we're always thinking about how what we're doing is actually going to impact patients who need medicine, no matter what our role is. This is really motivating, it's amazing to realize that the work you are doing is having a real positive impact on the world. Secondly, in our day-to-day, the talented Holly McQuarrie and the "People and Operations" team at Cyclica makes sure that our needs as humans are being met while working for Cyclica. I've been here for almost five years, and the positive growth and improvements have been incredible. We now work in a primarily remote setting (work from anywhere, whenever), with no fixed hours. This means that I have the flexibility I need to address events in my life, my family, and my home, AND most importantly, it lets me adapt my work to the way my brain works instead of the other way around. Working at Cyclica, I know I have the freedom, trust, and respect to say: "This is how I am most productive." The difference that this makes is hard to overstate. Without going into details, I have never really thrived in a "conventional" setting for my work. At Cyclica, I am thriving. The people I work with actively support me, and I support them, simply being ourselves and contributing the way we do best. So, this is probably my favorite thing about working at Cyclica.

What’s the best career advice you have ever received? 

Someone I admired once told me they never chose what they wanted to do. Specifically, they meant that there was never a moment when they looked at what they had learned or planned to learn and said: "Okay, now I want to be an experimental physicist working for a government lab." Instead, they just pursued their own interests, advocated for themselves, never settled for bad conditions, and gave themselves permission to try out new things when the opportunities came. I truly think this has had some of the greatest impacts on my life. I don't think there's a recipe for success out there. You have to be lucky. To be lucky, you have to be open to it in the first place, and that *is* something you can control. To answer the question, though, the advice was "don't set life goals."

What do you like to do when you aren’t at work? 

Outside of work, I'm probably either playing roguelike videogames that mostly make me angry or using code to create generative art. IMG_5431Despite years of effort, I am still not very good at drawing, so the revelation that I can use two things  I'm very good at (coding and creating bugs in my own code) to create art has been an extremely fun discovery and provides me with a great way to practice my creativity, expression, and programming skills. In particular, doing collaborative projects with other artists, I've noticed many of the project management and teamwork skills I've learned at Cyclica being incredibly useful outside of programming for Drug Discovery. It's a fun activity, but it's also great to have a chance to do something fun that still sharpens the skills I use in my day-to-day life.

Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.


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