Selene L Fernandez-Valverde

Research professor at the Advanced Genomics Unit, Langebio

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Don’t be afraid of what other people may think.

What do you do?

I lead a research group, this means my group and I conduct research aimed to discover new things about the world. My research uses computer programs to discover new biology from massive databases containing the genetic material of multiple plants and animals.

Why did you choose this field?

I actually kind of stumbled into my career path. I always enjoyed working with computers and biology but wasn't quite sure how to put both of these together. When I was looking for a bachelor's program I found this intriguing career on "genomic sciences" and thought it would be interesting. I loved it! It was the perfect mix of computer science, biology, statistics, and math. From the first semester, I knew I wanted to follow this career. That was 12 years ago, I still love my job to this day.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I never thought I would be able to form a group of people and guide them through how to become a scientist and carry out research. I currently lead a group of twelve people and I'm proud of our work culture and environment. I have also received a number of national and international prizes for Women In Science in my short career - I don't think my younger self would have phantom that.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love asking questions and then answering them. Making new discoveries is thrilling. I also enjoy teaching and the process of discovery, which in my case involves lots of thinking and some programming.

Best advice for next generation?

To not be afraid of what other people may think. It does not matter what you do, some people will be proud and others disappointed, so why not follow the path that suits you best! Also, do not be discouraged because of its hard work. It is, but if you enjoy it, it is way easier than doing something else that you dislike or does not fulfill.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Do. Or do not. There is no try. - Yoda

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