C-P Ma received both her undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2002, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology and an Assistant and Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, where she won the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Ma is an avid violin player and was an exchange student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston while studying cosmic strings and theoretical cosmology at MIT. She was the first prize winner in the Taiwan National Violin Competition in 1983. Ma is the cosmology scientific editor for the Astrophysical Journal.
Ma's primary research interests are in theoretical cosmology and astrophysics. Among the topics she has studied include the properties of dark matter and dark energy, the cosmic microwave background, gravitational lensing, galaxy formation and evolution, supermassive black holes, and the large-scale structure of the universe. She occasionally manages to climb out of the dark and lumpy universe; during these sunny moments (or rather, moonless nights), she has enjoyed collaborations with observers in studying properties of galaxies using telescopes at Palomar and Keck.