Keys to the coronavirus

Career Path for Brenda Hogue

Fast Facts:

  • Number of years in school: 22
  • Favorite class / subject: Biology
  • Hardest class / subject: None
  • First Job: Student helper in a chiropractic medicine office clinical lab
  • Dream job as a kid: Doctor or veterinarian
  • One word you would use to describe your current job: Exciting

Sometimes it’s easy to get interested in a subject at school. For some people, History, English, or Math class might be the best part of their day. It’s nice to be one of the lucky people that likes what they’re learning. You might not feel that way in every class but, pay attention to those that you find really interesting and exciting. That was always the mindset of Brenda Hogue. Today, she’s a professor and the head of a laboratory at Arizona State University. Every day, she gets to keep learning about science - her favorite subject since she was young.

A picture of the upper body of a baby goat, shown mostly in profile

Hogue liked taking care of a pet goat, but otherwise wanted to be exploring instead of farming. Image by Béria Lima de Rodríguez.

As a kid, Hogue was drawn to nature and biology. She grew up in the deep south on a farm in central Mississippi, where her family raised animals and grew a small amount of cotton. Aside from caring for a pet goat, she never had much interest in helping with the farm work. Instead she spent her time outside, playing and collecting bugs and leaves. Once she started school, she liked her science classes the most. That interest followed her to her college years at Mississippi State University, where she majored in Microbiology. Today, Hogue studies coronaviruses, and inspires future scientists to follow in her footsteps.

Career Paths Aren’t Always Clear

Even though Hogue studied microbes and viruses in college, it took her a while to start her career in virology. After college, she was a high school biology teacher for seven years while her husband was in graduate school. Later, she worked as a veterinary assistant, and planned to become a veterinarian or a doctor. Even though she liked working in the laboratory in college, she wasn’t given much guidance about steps she should be taking to become a researcher in her own lab. So, she followed other career paths instead.

Microscopy image of coronavirus

Hogue has worked on coronaviruses since graduate school. This colorized microscopy image shows a common human coronavirus, OC43. Image by the CDC.

Eventually, Hogue moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee with her husband. Part of her plan for moving there was to apply to veterinary school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. While she was getting her application ready, she decided to take a microbiology class. It turned out that she never finished that veterinary school application, and applied to the graduate school instead. The class reminded her how interested she was in microbiology and research, and she never looked back. In graduate school, she started researching coronaviruses. She became intrigued with these viruses, their molecular biology and how they cause disease.

As a professor, Hogue sees students going through struggles similar to her own. They often don’t know about opportunities they can pursue. She does her part by providing college students a chance to get hands-on experience studying viruses in her lab. She personally has no regrets about her own winding path to research. Her years teaching high school advanced placement biology taught her a lot that prepared her to work with college students and to run a laboratory. Teaching high school and her interest in laboratory research helped her know she’d be a great fit as a university professor.

Don’t Be Afraid of Science Class!

One message she has for students is to not be afraid of taking science classes. She knows that science can sometimes get a bad rap; students think it’s too hard or boring. Even if students find science interesting, they may be scared of the requirements, or think that the material is too difficult. But she hopes students will give science an honest try. The best time to try new things is when you’re young, so take science classes with an open mind. You might love it! Hogue loves what she does. She thinks viruses are absolutely fascinating and finds a lot of satisfaction in working on something that can help people in such a meaningful way.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Career Path: Brenda Hogue
  • Author(s): Ioulia Bespalova
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: March 23, 2020
  • Date accessed: April 14, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Ioulia Bespalova . (2020, March 23). Career Path: Brenda Hogue. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved April 14, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Ioulia Bespalova . "Career Path: Brenda Hogue". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 23 March, 2020.

MLA 2017 Style

Ioulia Bespalova . "Career Path: Brenda Hogue". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 23 Mar 2020. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 14 Apr 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
Virologist Brenda Hogue working in lab
Brenda Hogue runs a lab that focuses on RNA viruses, mainly coronaviruses.

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