She was born and raised in a small village in the Zeeland countryside. Colinda Scheele did not get her love for science from her family: “My father worked on mussel fishing boat and recently became a police officer. My mom always looked after me and my three brothers and later started working as a psychologist. My brothers also chose entirely different career paths, although my youngest brother, who is still in high school, wants to be a doctor, partially inspired by me.”
Since she was little, she was always ahead of the curve. She taught herself how to read and write when she was in kindergarten and skipped the first grade. That turned out to be a recurring theme in her life. “I always need an extra challenge to feel good. PhD research is very useful for that: you can take on as many challenges as you want.” So she did.
After defending her thesis last year, she immediately moved forward: she was allowed to start her own research group at the VIB Center for Cancer Biology in Leuven. An unusually big step. But that suits her, and it won’t surprise her supervisor and group leader Jacco van Rheenen either. “She has what it takes to become a future leader in the field. She is creative, independently works on her own ideas, and she has golden hands at the lab.”In short: the full package. But does it feel that way to her? “No, not at all,” she says, “I don’t feel like I am the perfect person for this. But I like to challenge myself, and I am not afraid to take action. I just start, and if it doesn’t work out I won’t immediately start doubting myself and my ideas.”