Steve A. Alas

Steve A. Alas

Director of SEES, LSAMP, SPIRES & Discovery Camp Programs, Professor of Biological Sciences, College of Science

Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award

FILA presentation with Chancellor White

FILA Award

Faculty across the California State University deliver transformational teaching, provide extraordinary learning opportunities and engage in meaningful interactions to support student success every day. CSU faculty lead the way in innovative teaching and learning and are critical to the student success efforts of Graduation Initiative 2025. The CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award recognizes the lasting impact outstanding faculty have on the student experience. As we celebrate the progress our students make, we celebrate the exceptional faculty whose leadership and innovation pave the way.


CPP Admin group Award Ceremony in Sacramento

FILA Personal Statement

Despite California’s successful track record in graduating science majors, there is a disproportionate amount of attrition by minorities and women in the STEM workforce. While academic and research programs may successfully train young students to become scientists, there is little to no training on the navigation of antagonistic workplace environments that diminish the number of women and under-represented minorities persisting in the workforce or pursuing leadership roles. I designed the SPIRES-(Scholars Program in Research, Education & Science) program to include workplace psychology training that enables students to circumvent or mediate factors that contribute to workforce attrition. The NSF funded the program at $1Million (5-yrs).

While a strong background in the principles of discovery, analytical thinking and extensive knowledge of their given field is pivotal to form the STEM leaders of tomorrow, there is a disconnect between student training and the requirements of a technical workplace environment. Preparing for today's demanding work environment needs both rigorous scientific training and sector-specific skills. I developed the BioTiER-(Biological Training in Education and Research) Program to integrate sector-specific career skills into the graduate training of scholars so they exceed workplace demands in industry and academia upon completion of their MS degrees. BioTiER also created an educational network of community colleges, STEM industries companies, and R01-research universities, with the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly Pomona as the central point of training and education. The NSF funded the program at $600K (5-yrs).

I was tasked by the Provost to develop a STEM-specific summer orientation for incoming freshmen, as part of the STEM Success Program. In order to build a community among the freshmen and have them feel tied to their departments, I developed and implemented three ideas. Those were (1) a STEMpire comprised of the 14 STEM departments (7-Engineering, 7-Science), known as Houses (i.e. House of Aerospace, House of Biology, etc) with unique shields to represent each, (2) a STEMpire animated movie that told a Game of Thrones/Harry Potter-like story starring the CSU mascots from across the system (, and (3) STEM-based competitions between students in the 14 Houses that lead to the winner of the STEMpire Cup. Of 1552 incoming freshmen surveyed after the STEMpire orientation, 92.8% of them said the entire experience helped them feel connected and bonded to other STEM students.

I currently run five programs that serve to elevate students so that they excel both in school and in their careers. All of the programs are run under the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) program, for which I serve as Director. Along with many other student support activities beside the ones mentioned above (peer mentoring, faculty advising, academic excellence workshops, training fellowships, travel support, professional development workshops, textbook loan program, socials and a large family community), the 660+ URM/1st-gen students in SEES graduate at a 13% higher rate than URM/1st-gen science students not in SEES at CPP. My sole purpose is to lift students during their academic and professional journey and the programs above have helped me support thousands over the years.