Cawa Tran, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences 

Cawa Tran, Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at the California State University, Chico, is interested in understanding the physiological responses of the animal host to microbial infections and environmental stress. Dr. Tran holds an undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she had her first research experience, inspiring her to teach and provide the same to students at Chico State today, especially first-generation college students like herself. She was previously trained at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory in Honolulu, doing research on marine invertebrate larval settlement and metamorphosis in response to bacteria, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dr. Tran pursued postdoctoral research at Stanford University, School of Medicine, studying the molecular and cellular processes that mediate symbiosis between cnidarians (e.g., corals, sea anemones, jellyfish) and dinoflagellates (photosynthetic algae of the genus Symbiodinium). This symbiosis is critical for the maintenance of healthy coral reefs, and stress-induced breakdown of this symbiosis leads to coral bleaching worldwide. In an effort to save coral reefs, the Tran Lab uses the small sea anemone Aiptasia as a laboratory model to better understand the intricate interactions that occur among cnidarians, dinoflagellates, and bacteria.