The latest edition of FEMS Microbiology Letters features a spotlight on Prof. Regine Hengge. In this article, she explains her research career, and gives her best advice for early-career researchers in microbiology to help further their success.
Be honest with yourself—are you really fascinated by microbes? Do you love to think about molecules and cells? If yes, go ahead and do a PhD. If you still say yes after this experience, do a postdoc in another country—nothing widens your horizon more than living in a foreign country. If you are a woman (especially in Germany), don’t believe people who tell you that you cannot be a scientist and have kids at the same time or that your kids will suffer.
Regine Hengge studied biology and obtained her doctorate at Universität Konstanz, where—after a postdoc at Princeton University—she also established her first research group. As a Full Professor, she has headed the microbiology units at Freie Universität Berlin (1998–2013) and at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (since 2013). She studies signal transduction and regulatory networks in bacterial biofilms and stress responses, but also pursues interdisciplinary interests, e.g. a long-term Science & Theatre project. Her awards include the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant and elected memberships of Leopoldina, EMBO and other academies. She has two children, 26 and 20 years old.