Faculty Research Profile
Dr. Steve Anthony Alas
Ph.D. in Cancer Biology
Director, Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES)
Professor of Biological Sciences
at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Dr. Steve Anthony Alas began his academic career as a first-generation student at Cal Poly Pomona. Dr. Alas found his way into the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) Program during his time here. Dr. Alas notes that SEES had “workshops they would offered for chemistry and physics and the mentoring programs and more, so I landed into a place that had started to support students with those needs and in essence because of that, I didn’t feel much of the drawbacks, if you will, that other students from similar backgrounds feel because I had a home away from home, which was the SEES Program and this community.”
He did research at UC Riverside because CPP didn’t have as many undergraduate research opportunities as it does now. While Dr. Alas started his research in the summer, the program asked him to continue his research into the school year. Dr. Alas soon found himself researching at UCR while continuing his undergraduate degree at CPP.
Dr. Alas pursued his advanced degree “because I knew I wanted to teach at the university level, and to do so would require a Ph.D.” Because of the training Dr. Alas received in the SEES Program, he felt secure in his graduate applications. Mentors from the biology department and the SEES Program helped guide him through the application process so Dr. Alas didn’t feel the usual struggles and trials other low-income applicants go through.
After completing his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at UCLA, Dr. Alas came back to CPP as faculty. Dr. Alas was soon offered the chance to head the SEES Program – the very program that helped him as a first-generation student advance into a graduate degree and obtain a Ph.D. He recalls that “when I got the chance to take over the SEES Program, I jumped at the opportunity of the philosophy of build it better than you found it.”
Dr. Alas finds himself motivated by his students. “I love teaching in the class,” he elates, “I love teaching in the lab, and I think it’s just so fulfilling when you help the next generation understand all of the things we do and hope that they go on and do bigger and better things than we did.” Dr. Alas also finds himself enamored with research and goes on to state that “another thing that drives me is the research, where you really are answering questions that no one else is looking at.”
For students looking to advance their degrees, Dr. Alas has a few closing words of advice; first, “look for the student support programs,” programs like SEES, McNair, and others you can learn more about from the Office of Undergraduate Research. Second, to “approach faculty. Approach faculty about projects, and, you know, be involved in things other than just the curriculum.”