Ana Elias
Program & Operations Manager

Brain Research Institute


What is your role at UCLA?
I am a Programs & Operations Manager at the Brain Research Institute. I provide operational support for the programs and activities supported by the institute and the larger UCLA neuroscience community.

Before joining UCLA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
My first job out of high school was as a teacher assistant for an English as a Second Language class at a local adult school. I enjoyed interacting with the students and learning about their motivation to go to school to learn a second language. Many of them went on to obtain their high school diploma and some of them even attended college.

How do you balance your career at UCLA and family?
I do things that make me happy, especially during the lunch hour. I enjoy attending FitZone classes, getting together with colleagues for lunch or getting a chair massage at the Wooden Center. Whenever possible, I also try to add an additional vacation day to make the university 3-day weekends a little bit longer so I can spend more time with my family.

What was your first impression of UCLA? Has it changed at all over the course of your time at UCLA?
I came to UCLA as an undergraduate and the campus seemed enormous at that time. I felt like a small fish in a big pond. I still think that UCLA is a large campus, but now I feel part of the community.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
I enjoy interacting with faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars and the neuroscience community in general.

When are you the most productive and why?
I am most productive in the mornings. I start my day early so I am usually in the office before 6am. I use this quiet time to reply to emails and work on projects that require concentration since no one is in the office for the first two hours of my work schedule.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? What is your proudest moment at UCLA?
The greatest achievement in my career so far is to be the interim CAO of the Brain Research Institute. I was fortunate that the Director and past CAO of the Brain Research Institute believed that I could take on this new challenge in my career.

If you could change one thing about UCLA, what would it be?
The low participation of Health Sciences employees in programs and organizations dedicated to professional growth at UCLA.  Employees from the Health Sciences are not necessarily aware of programs such as the Professional Development Program or organizations such AMG. I know that AMG is working on expanding its membership of employees from the David Geffen School of Medicine.  We certainly need all staff to know about the different resources that are available for professional growth at UCLA.

Tell us about someone who has mentored or influenced you the most in your career path. In what way did he/she/they shape your decisions?
I have been fortunate to have several mentors during my career at UCLA, but there was one particular person that was instrumental in my career path. My late boss, Dr. Lori Altshuler, for whom I had the pleasure to work for during my first 15 years at UCLA. She was an amazing person and outstanding boss who gave me the opportunity to grow professionally in her research program and encouraged me to pursue my career in administration.

What do you think is the most important quality you need to have for success in UCLA or in general?
You always have to be open to seek new learning opportunities.

What would you tell someone who is applying for a job in UCLA?
Once you become part of UCLA, make sure to take advantage of all the things it has to offer. Take classes to earn a certificate through Training and Development, participate in programs such as the Staff Enrichment Program and Professional Developmental Program and join and attend AMG sponsored events.

Share with us something about you that most people don’t know but you would like them to.
I am very close to my parents. In fact, when I got married I did not move too far from them because I live just around the corner from their home.  My husband and I often join my parents for breakfast and dinner and I come by every day after work to see them even if it is just for a few minutes.

How has AMG impacted your professional growth and development?
I have attended many AMG events and participated in their AMG Excellence Awards Review Committee. AMG has given me the opportunity to gain valuable skills and interact with people from multiple departments at UCLA.