For Research. For Berlin.

Einstein Questionnaire

Cecilia Clementi is an expert in computer simulation of biomolecules and holds a professorship in Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Since 2017 Cecilia Clementi conducts her research in the area of multi scale modeling of biophysical systems as an Einstein Visiting Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin. The aim of the study is to examine mechanisms of membrane fusions, as well as the formation of synaptic protein architectures.


Please close your eyes and think about your research project. What do you see at first? 

I see macromolecules moving like microscopic machines to perform biological functions.

How would you explain your research to a child?
In my research I am trying to understand how the different molecules in our body move and interact to keep us alive.

What is it that surprises people when you tell them about your research? 
That Physics ideas can be used to study Biology. Historically these fields of research have evolved separately but they are now at the point that can be combined, and the physical principles and methods can be applied to understand biological processes. 

With whom would you like to swap your workplace for one day? What would you do?
I would be curious to switch one day of my life with one of my three sisters. I would love to understand better their daily life.

Is there any rather unusual hobby or talent you might want to share with us?
I am an avid scuba diver and underwater photographer. I like to explore the underwater world and try to capture its beauty with my camera.

What did your research teach you about life?
The study of the molecular world teaches us that life is continuously evolving.

What would your job be, if not a scientist? 
I have pursued different art forms as hobbies since I was a child and sometimes I think I could have tried to be an artist. Or a scuba diving instructor. But I am very happy with my job and wouldn’t change it with anything right now. 

Is there any particular object that follows you through work and/or life? 
I collect seashells from my scuba diving travels and somehow I always have some seashells with me, at home, in my bag, or in my office.

Which place in Berlin do you like the most, and why?
I really like the neighbourhood of Schöneberg. There are a lot of nice restaurants and interesting shops but at the same time it’s not too crowded.

Is there anything about Berlin that you didn’t expect at all? And/or something that you miss here? What makes Berlin special for your research?
The collaborative environment in Berlin is particular good for interdisciplinary research and I have been able to start several collaborations with different groups in Berlin in the last few years. 


June 2019