Art and Science Series: Valerie Duprat
Tell us the story of your ocean love affair. (How did you first meet? When did you fall in love? How does the ocean make you feel?)
I was originally a hard core snowboarder, who fell in love with an even more hardcore surfer, who was spending more time with the Ocean than me and had no interest in teaching me properly (I had the worst beginner experiences). So I hated surfing for many years! We eventually realized that we were meant for each other: both me and the man who became my husband as well as me and the Ocean! I learnt surfing as a competitive tandem surfer, totally randomly because of my figure skating background. When it was time to go solo on a board I was ready and trained! Surfing has been part of my life since 2003 to the point that the tides and conditions dictate our family daily schedule.
Introduce yourself, what is your science or art?
After graduating with a PhD degree in Biochemistry in France, I obtained a post-doctoral position at UCSD to never leave SoCal since then. I am currently a full-time scientist at Illumina, the world leader of DNA sequencing. However, in my free-time I am a backyard surfboard shaper.
How do you incorporate science as an artist or art as a scientist?
In my mind, Science and Art are like the right and left brains: total different functions but yet complimentary! What I found in shaping was an escape of the very strict state of mind of my scientist job. Using my hands to create a physical object was such a change from working on the infinitesimal small world of chemical reactions happening in assay tubes or living cells I can't even see! I also found freedom of creativity in shaping boards as opposed to the rigid laws of chemistry. Like any hobby, this craft allows me to lift the pressure of my day job and makes me come back in the lab with a rested and open mind. Reciprocally, I also realized that Science was helping my shaping learning curve through many different science-related influences like basic notions of hydrodynamics as well as an avid interest of testing hypotheses.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist/scientist for you?
The frustration of the lack of time (or missing out?). I wish the day had more than 24h so I can fit all I have planned to do in order to be both a better scientist and a better a shaper. The juggling between Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde, in addition to my top priorities (family and surf), is sometimes driving me crazy !
What do you wish every swimsuit had or didn’t have?
I think the swimsuit market is full of creative minds who make sure there is a bikini for every woman! I am amazed by the diversity and the infinite choice available for swimsuit shoppers. The internet has also made the bikini shopping experience much more efficient: everyone can find their dream bikini and size without having to roam multiple boutiques. I feel it is a great time for bikini lovers like me :) I am fully happy!
What makes you feel sexy?
Do you have any mantras that bring you up when you’ve reached a road block or when you’re feeling down?
"Even if it looks bad (to me), it could actually be worse. So toughen up!"