After obtaining her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Amsterdam in 2002, Ciska Kemper moved to UCLA in Los Angeles, California, to take up a Spitzer Fellowship. In 2005 she joined the faculty of University of Virginia, and in 2006 she moved to the UK to take up a faculty position at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. In 2010 she moved to Taiwan for a research faculty position at the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics of Academia Sinica. In this position she formally joined several telescope projects, including the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (ALMA), which ultimately led to her appointment as the European ALMA Programme Scientist at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, in 2018. In 2022 she joined the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) as an ICREA Research Professor. Ciska Kemper was awarded the Grand Prix Scientifique de la Fondation Franco-Taiwanaise jointly with Suzanne Madden in 2017.
Ciska Kemper studies dust properties in order to understand the formation of dust in galaxies. In particular, she uses far-infrared and submillimeter observations of evolved stars and the interstellar medium of nearby galaxies to study the dust emissivity properties at these wavelengths, with the goal to improve on dust mass determinations at all redshifts. She also determines the mineralogical properties of silicate dust -- crystallinity, composition, nanocluster fraction -- in interstellar environments to follow dust formation and evolution.