CPP professor receives top CSU honor

Cal Poly Pomona professor and 1994 alumnus Steve Alas was recently named one of five recipients of the 2023 Wang Family Excellence Award.

The award, given to four faculty members and one staff member throughout the 23-campus CSU system, recognizes one’s extraordinary commitment and dedication to student success.

“Their activities advance the California State University’s mission, contribute to student success, bring benefit and credit to the CSU, and enhance excellence in teaching, scholarship and service,” read a news release. Each recipient receives a $20,000 award.

Alas, a tumor immunologist with expertise in genetics and DNA repair, has helped thousands of students at CPP over the years while diversifying the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Alas is a first-generation college student. He graduated from CPP in 1994 with a bachelor’s in biology. During his undergraduate years, he found a supportive community through the school’s Science Educational Enhancement Services.

Alas is currently in his 10th year as director of SEES, which serves more than 700 students each year. He continues to work to eliminate barriers for underrepresented and first-generation students in the fields of science and engineering.

During his tenure as director, 70 students have been accepted into doctorate programs, 52 into master’s programs, 36 into professional programs (pharmacy, veterinary medicine, etc.) and nine into credential programs. Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley described Alas as the “epitome of a teacher-scholar-mentor-leader.”

“My role in life is to facilitate the success of all those around me,” Alas said in a statement. “Helping students succeed and watching them celebrate their accomplishments is what I enjoy the most.”

In addition to SEES, Alas established support programs for CPP graduate students including BioTiER, Biological Training in Education and Research Scholars Program, and SPIRES, Scholars Program in Research, Education and Science.

Over the years Alas has secured more than $2.5 million in federal grants. More info about Alas is at polycentric.cpp.edu.


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