Hello! You can call me Anya or, if you prefer, Prof V. I’ve broken this page into two sections: Professional Info and Fun Info. Enjoy!

Professional Info


  • 2017: Dual-PhD in Computer Science & Engineering and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, & Behavior from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

  • 2012: BA in Computer Science from Carleton College, Northfield, MN


Please see my research page for information on my current projects and my Google Scholar for my publications.


  • Symbulation An agent-based modeling program to study the evolution of mutualism and parasitism between a host and endosymbiont species under varying conditions. Lead developer.

  • Avida An artificial life platform for the study of evolution of digital organisms. Contributions include programmed cell death, mutualists, and analysis of open-ended evolution.

  • Empirical A library of tools for scientific software development, with emphasis on compiling to the web and building web interfaces using the Emscripten compiler (from C++ to high efficiency JavaScript). Contributions include development of agent-based model to evolve quorum sensing and mutualism.

  • Stardew Valley Evolution Mod Two modification packages for the game Stardew Valley that add evolution to the fishing and ‘slimes’. Supervisor of two students.

  • Minecraft Sheep Evolution Mod This is a mod for the Java version of Minecraft. It enables the evolution of Minecraft sheep via natual selection using an evolutionary algorithm. To accomplish this evolution, we modified the color, reproduction, and life cycle of sheep, as well as the hunting behavior of wolves.



  • 2020 ISAL Outstanding Student Publication Award from “Spatial Structure Can Decrease Symbiotic Cooperation”
  • 2018 Grace Hopper Conference Faculty Scholarship
  • NSF CAREER Sub-award, CAREER: Uncovering the strange biology of elusive Shigella phages and their roles in horizontal gene transfer (PI: Kristin Parent, PhD)
  • 2012-2017 University Distinguished Fellowship, Michigan State University


  • ISAL Diveristy, Equity and Inclusion Director, Chair of ISAL DEI Committee (2021)
  • Organized the Teaching with Artificial Life Workshop (2020)
  • Organized the Symbiosis in Artificial Life Workshop (2020)
  • Evolution conference session chair and Code of Conduct moderator (2021)
  • ISAL Paper Awards Committee Member (2021)
  • ALIFE conference Program Committee Member (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015)
  • SIGCSE Conference reviewer (2020)
  • Tapia Conference Scholarship Reviewer (2019)
  • Women@GECCO Co-Organizer (2015, 2016)

Fun Info

Here are some random facts about me.

Name: Anya Elaine Vostinar (Johnson)

Hometown: Duluth, MN

Alma Mater: Carleton College

PhD Institute: Michigan State University

Degree: Dual-PhD in Computer Science & Engineering and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior

Birthday: Feb. 22nd

Mission: Bring science to a wider audience by making it accessible to the general public and increasing STEM diversity of all under-represented groups.

Hobbies: reading sci-fi and fantasy books, knitting, games, baking, gardening

Significant Other: Joe Vostinar

Pets: Cache the wonder dog!

Plants: A lot, some include: orchids, african violets, begonia, spider plant, purple velvet plant, purple heart plant, lots of annual flowers and vegetables, peace lily, ferns, more that I have forgotten about

Favorite color: purple, silver, black

Favorite author/book: Whatever I’m currently reading. I used to say Brandon Sanderson or Anne McCaffrey, but I now love so many different authors for such different types of writing that I can’t choose

Favorite food: chocolate

Favorite animal: dragon

No, a real animal: tiger

Favorite virus: SfII

Favorite amoeba: Dictyostelium discoideum

Favorite bacteria: Vibrio harveyi

A page with links that are useful mostly for myself.