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(650) 299-5260

2010 - Rokhaya Diop

How and why stem cells give rise to a particular type of tissue is a mystery that must be solved in order to realize stem cells’ potential for therapeutic applications.  In her research, Rokhaya Diop is investigating how adult and embryonic stem cells respond to mechanical cues in their environment.  Results from her research suggest that mechanical stress can modulate the development of stem cells.  This insight is critical to understanding how stem cells might be directed to become more specialized types of cells such as bone, muscle, or blood cells.

Rokhaya was drawn to the field of stem-cell engineering as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of California, San Diego’s vascular bioengineering laboratory. Working alongside some of the top bioengineers in the field, she realized the potential to impact people’s lives and the opportunities for innovation in this emerging discipline.  In addition to her research, Rokhaya also enjoys teaching and plans to pursue a career in academia.  As a professor, Rokhaya hopes to inspire more young women and students from under-represented minority groups to become scientists and engineers.

Because her parents have always emphasized the importance of giving back,
Rokhaya is active in the Black Graduate Engineering Student Association, where she works to recruit and retain engineering students at UC Berkeley.  She also works to engage students in science at the middle- and high-school levels by developing curricula and hands-on activities, from building simple toy cars to light-up models of the solar system. 

In her spare time, Rokhaya enjoys being outdoors and playing sports. She especially enjoys playing soccer, tennis, and basketball.