Alma Ceja

I grew in in Bakersfield, a central Californian city with a desert climate. While in college, I developed an interest in the special relationship between temperature and its effects on physiology. This would eventually lead to my pursuing an academic career. In 2015, I earned a BS in biology minoring in chemistry from CSU, East Bay. My interests then specialized to the effects of global warming on organismal ecophysiology, and I pursued my studies as a master’s student at the Estuary and Ocean Science Center, San Francisco State University’s marine lab on the bay. While there, I created a species distribution model to predict the distribution of an intertidal population of porcelain crabs under future global warming scenarios. The thermal sensitivity response of this population opened my eyes to a whole new world, and after earning an MS in marine science, I joined the PhD program and Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center at UC, Riverside to explore research in this new world. In this program, my focus is in one of the first interdisciplinary projects in astrobiology between exoplanet science and ecophysiology where I’m working towards developing an astroecology model to explore exoplanet habitability.

I’m the first of my nuclear and extended family to attend and graduate college, and the only to obtain a master’s degree and pursue a doctorate’s. My inspiration in all my endeavors has always been my family. My parents migrated from Mexico in 1990, and have since become citizens of the US, but despite their many accomplishments, they never had the opportunities I’ve been given. I grew up with three younger brothers, and they mean the world to me. And so, I’ve always seen it as my duty to set a positive example for my brothers, and to make my parents proud. In the future, I aspire to become a professor at a university where I can continue to perform research while pursuing one of my passions, teaching. 

Apart from science, I have these things called hobbies! I enjoy botany (especially succulents, I’ve about 40 varieties!), cooking (anything from traditional to new age foods), music (I’m a novice guitarist, singer, and I enjoy rapping. But, let’s just say there’s room for improvement), and recently I’ve taken up SCUBA diving (but any outdoorsy activity will satisfy). And, I’m excited to serve as a role model for the Latinx community in earth and space sciences!