RUB » Equal Opportunities Portal » Women in Science » Interview with Danja Schünemann

Prof. Dr Danja Schünemann

Short biography:
Danja Schünemann is doing research and teaching at RUB since 2005. Her research area is molecular biology of organelle. She has two children, seven and eleven years old.

Guiding principle:
Rouse curiosity and fascination for research and teaching!

Danja Schuenemann

Interview with Danja Schünemann

You are professor at the School of Biology – what is your work about?

My work deals with the analysis of molecular mechanisms that intercede the transport of protein to the thylakoid-membrane of chloroplasts.

What is it you find most fascinating about your research area?

I am particularly interested in molecular details that lead to the integration of protein in a membrane or the transportation of such beyond the membrane. So, the molecular mechanisms that govern these procedures.

Were you planning an academic career while still being a student?

No, I wasn’t. I started studying and waited to see how it goes. Research has always fascinated me very much, but I wasn’t considering an academic career at that point. It was during my postdoc-time in the U.S., which went very well, that I started considering it.

What was your plan B? What would you have done if you hadn’t become a scientist?

This is a difficult question. I would have liked to become active in environmentalism. I also thought about changing into teaching.  

You did your postdoc in the U.S. Why did you decide to pursue your academic career in Germany?

I worked at the Carnegie-Institute at Stanford University. For a period of time, the American system was very intriguing and informative, but ultimately, I feel at home in Germany.

You are especially involved with the promotion of young academics. What is most fun about it?

It is particularly appealing to motivate young women to pursue an academic career. If I know they have the capacities to do so, I wish to assist them go into that direction.

How do you balance career and family/relationships? 

I can’t really say in one or two sentences. It is essential to dare giving your children to daycare and such institutions. It is really important to have good and reliable childcare; it enables more temporal flexibility. A flexible partner is also a great advantage.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

I like spending time with my family, play football with my sons. I do sports, jog and enjoy a good book.

If you were rector today, what would you do?

I would try to offer more support for young scholars in their research and teaching. Hierarchies should be more even and there dependencies less important. I’ve seen positive results of these changes in the U.S.

If we were to fast-forward to ten years time – what would you wish to have succeeded in?

In ten years, I would like to know how light harvesting complex protein that are so crucial for photosynthesis get into the thylakoid-membrane. I would also like to have a better understanding of the assembly of photosynthesis-complexesin the thylakoid-membrane.

15 July, 2010