Amberlene De La Rocha

I am a Latina and a first-generation college student in the laboratory of Dr. X. William Yang. My PhD thesis work uses genetic methods to study Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

Exciting research project or any highlights in your lab

I am developing a novel approach for brain-wide imaging and analysis of Alzheimer’s disease pathology at a single cell resolution. Using a genetic model generated in my lab, MORF3, we are able to sparsely label genetically-defined cell populations and use computer reconstructions to get robust datasets characterizing morphological changes associated with disease progression.

How did you decide on your focus of research?

Alzheimer’s disease research is a rapidly evolving field, and there are many opportunities for new discoveries and advancements in our understanding. Current pharmacological approaches to treatment have been largely ineffective, and research is needed to discover new therapeutic targets.

What brought you to UCLA?

I chose UCLA for its academic rigor and excellent research facilities, as well as the uncommonly diverse student body. The combination of diversity, mild climate, entertainment, great food, and natural beauty makes Los Angeles a great place to live and work.

Do you have a personal motto?

“Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”.

Do you have any hobbies outside of the lab?

I am involved with the UCLA chapter of SACNAS, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. In my free time, I practice a type of martial art called Aikido. I also enjoy attending film screenings offered through organizations associated with the UCLA School of Film and Television