Steve A. Alas

Steve A. Alas

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

Academic History

Podcast on being a First-Generation student & professor




About Me - the teacher & scientist


 The influences that have shaped my scientific background have been many. From family and friends, to scientific literature and the media, there have been many things that inspired me to become a teacher and a scientist.

 Undergrad social Undergrad conference

The beginnings of my career in research took place as an undergraduate, while at Cal Poly Pomona. Initially, my goal was to pursue a career in medicine. During the summer of 1993, prior to my senior year, I was accepted into the Summer Research Program at the University of California, Riverside. There, I was exposed to scientific research for the first time. It was during these months, and the subsequent year in which I decided to stay on the project, that my interest changed from a clinical oriented career to one of laboratory investigation.


Following my undergraduate education and research training, I was accepted into graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). My graduate studies were performed in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics. My thesis was in tumor biology and in how cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs.

 PhD thesis defense

After studying several aspects of tumor biology during my thesis studies, I moved to the City of Hope National Cancer Center. I knew I wanted to return to the Cal State system as a faculty member, eventually. Not knowing whether Cal States could support research done in tumor immunology, I decided to pursue training in cell biology and genetics. This led me to the Department of Cell & Tumor Biology, where I first started at City of Hope. In my years there, I performed research in DNA damage & repair, human and microbial genetics.


It was my pleasant surprise over the years to witness the Cal State system improve its position in academia as research-supporting institutions. Today, Cal Poly Pomona supports exciting research in all areas and has the facilities to allow tumor immunology and cell biology research.

 SEES students

From my initial explorations of fertilization mechanisms at UC Riverside to the pathways of DNA repair at City of Hope, I have continued to build upon my research experience with the goal of establishing a career as a cancer research scientist and maintaining a productive, funded program. However, first and foremost, I remain a teacher at heart. It is what I take most pride and enjoyment in. With the assistance I have received from mentors and colleagues, I have been able to become an instructor with pride in his approach and to contribute to differing aspects in the field of cancer research. It is my hope that I can mentor and continually support students and aspiring scientists the way so many supported and inspired me.