Alejandra Rios

Alejandra Rios


College of Natural and Social Sciences

Alejandra Rios has always loved science, but it wasn’t until she came to Cal State LA that she realized she wanted to pursue physics.

The 26-year-old Rios is graduating in June with a Master of Science in physics. She was accepted to several Ph.D. programs and has decided to attend UCLA to study physics and biology in medicine. Rios says she will receive the training she needs for translational research—applying scientific knowledge to the improvement of human health.

Rios considers herself fortunate to have attended Cal State LA for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She was able to spend numerous hours performing laboratory research with her professors.

“I received opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten at many other schools,” says Rios, who lives in Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock neighborhood. “And I felt working in the labs was [more accessible] to students here than it is at other schools.”

One of her faculty mentors knows a professor at USC, and through that connection, Rios was able to land a laboratory job at USC and improve her research skills.

As an undergraduate student, Rios majored in biochemistry, which required taking physics courses. She says she didn't take physics in high school, but grew to enjoy it.

Rios says she has a general idea of the type of work she would like to pursue after she receives her Ph.D. But she is hoping that the UCLA program will help her determine specific areas of concentration.

“I know I like physics and helping people. Hopefully, I can advance the future of medicine in some way,” she says.

Rios says she would like to work in academia and operate her own lab someday. Her short-term goal is to improve existing diagnostic imaging, she says. Her long-term goal is to create new diagnostic machines.

She would also like to work in science policy. Many people who propose and create rules and regulations regarding the science and medical fields aren't familiar with these subjects, Rios says. But she wants to change that in order to better serve our society.

The best advice Rios has received came from a professor who told her to never limit herself with negative thinking.  

“You only live once, and you should go after the goals you want to achieve,” she says. “Sometimes you don’t get the scholarship or the internship you want, but you will never know unless you go for it. The important thing is that you always try.”