Meet Clara Rey Valenzuela: FEBS Junior Section members' interview series

This interview series aims to introduce members of the FEBS Junior Section from FEBS Constituent Societies and their national Junior Sections, highlight their work and scientific interests, and inspire young scientists and students to join the initiative.
Meet Clara Rey Valenzuela: FEBS Junior Section members' interview series

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Our interviewee today is Clara Rey Valenzuela, a Master’s degree student from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. Clara is a member of Cónsules Júnior SEBBM, the junior section of the Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM), a FEBS Constituent Society.

Portrait photo of Clara Rey Valenzuela.
Clara Rey Valenzuela. Photo: personal archive

What motivated you to pursue a career in science? Why did you choose this field?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always wondered about the why of everything, and I’ve loved learning new things. I adored all science subjects, but as I got older, I especially enjoyed the functioning of the human body and living things. During my last year of high school, I discovered biochemistry as such, and I was so taken with it that I decided that it would be the major I’d study the following year at university.

Among all the scientific discoveries of all time, which is your favorite? Why?

Definitely, the discovery of penicillin, although it sounds a bit cliché. I believe it's a wonderful example of what science can be. Sometimes we are so absorbed in discovering something with such impetus that we don't realise that we may find more important and valuable things along the way (even if it wasn't our initial goal).

What do you do as a scientist to make your work interesting and accessible to the public?

The most important project I have been involved in was founding and being part of Bioquímica en Movimiento – Toledo (Biochemistry in Motion), a non-profit association formed by students of the Biochemistry degree at the University of Castilla la Mancha. Among other activities, we organize talks in bars about science for non-scientists and talks in schools/institutes to awaken the scientific vocation in the next generation.

"I believe that helping the next generations to awaken their scientific vocation is part of our job as scientists, and in my case, I have the chance to do it thanks to Biochemistry in Motion" – Clara Rey Valenzuela

Photo taken from the back of a classroom, showing Clara Rey presenting an online survey to young people, who are checking the results on their phone.
Engaging the next generation with research. Clara Rey Valenzuela. Photo: personal archive

What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have hobbies?

I consider myself to be a person who likes to try everything, and I specifically enjoy reading and spending time with friends/family. However, my true passion has always been and always will be sports. I played tennis for many years, and for the last few years (up to today), I train and compete in volleyball, something that I am truly crazy about. To me, sports are the perfect hobby: they keep you healthy/active and, simultaneously, provide a great way to disconnect and have a good time. Therefore, I encourage everyone who reads this to get out and keep moving! Stay active!!

How did you learn about the FEBS Junior Section? What motivated you to become a member? 

Through Bioquímica en Movimiento (Biochemistry in Motion). The Cáceres association was in contact with SEBBM, and we were invited to a meeting of the initiative. The first meeting I joined was in January 2022, and the truth is that I, who was always willing to meet people from abroad, really wanted to participate in international projects. I liked the dynamics and said, “Why not?”. I gradually got up to date with everything until I became an active member of the FEBS Junior Section.

What is the importance of getting involved in FEBS Junior Section activities for students and young scientists?

I consider it something that allows you to discover what the world of science is all about, not to mention the opportunities to meet people like yourself around Europe. You learn a lot of things, both scientifically and in terms of personal growth, resources, and so on. Networking is also a plus, and such initiatives never look bad on a CV ;)

What advice would you give to aspiring students and scientists?

Try things!!! Whatever you think you might find enjoyable, give it a try! We never know where we might find passions or opportunities. Sometimes, they show up where we least expect them :) But, above all, do things that make you happy because, in the long run, that's what remains. If you are passionate about something, go for it! That passion is contagious, and there's nothing greater than seeing people doing things they truly enjoy ^^

Where do you see your career going next?

At the moment, I see my future as very much focused on industry. I am very interested in the benefits that science can bring to society, and I think that my personality and the things I am passionate about fit much better with that kind of profile. But then again, you never know; I am also open to what might come up.

Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash 

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