Biological Sciences

Cawa Tran

Assistant Professor

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  • Postdoctoral scholar, Department of Genetics, Stanford University, 2017
  • Ph.D., Department of Zoology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2012
  • B.A., Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2004


  • Principles of Physiology and Development lecture and labs (BIOL 153)
  • Special Problems (BIOL 399)
  • Cell Biology lab (BIOL 411)
  • Advanced Cellular/Molecular Biology (BIOL 609)
  • Independent Study (BIOL 697)
  • Master's Thesis (BIOL 699)

Research Interests

The Tran Lab, part of the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Chico, is interested in the molecular & cellular mechanisms mediating symbiosis between cnidarians, dinoflagellates, and bacteria. We use an integrative approach that includes aspects of physiology, microbial ecology, molecular and cell biology to investigate host-microbe interactions in the sea anemone Exaiptasia pallida(commonly referred to as 'Aiptasia'), a laboratory model for understanding coral symbiosis and bleaching.

Research Summary

  • Which bacterial species can establish a long-term symbiosis with the sea anemone Aiptasia and impact host physiology?
  • How do bacterial and algal symbionts interact within the animal host?
  • What cellular and molecular mechanisms mediate symbioses with bacteria and algae?

Lab Photos

vibrant green photo from lab


Van Treuren W, Brower K, Hunt DR, Labanieh L, Lensch S, Cruz B, Cartwright H, Tran C*, Fordyce PM* (2019) Live imaging of Aiptasia larvae, a model system for studying coral and anemone bleaching, using a simple microfluidic device. Scientific Reports 9:9275. (*co-corresponding authors)

Xiang T, Jinkerson RE, Clowez S, Tran C, Krediet CJ, Onishi M, Cleves PA, Pringle JR, Grossman AR (2017) Glucose-induced trophic shift in Symbiodinium and its physiological and molecular consequences. Plant Physiology. pp-01572.

Tran C and Hadfield MG (2013) Localization of sensory mechanisms utilized by coral planulae to detect settlement cues. Invertebrate Biology 132:195-206.

Tran C and Hadfield MG (2012) Are G-protein coupled receptors involved in mediating larval settlement and metamorphosis of coral planulae? Biological Bulletin 222:128-136.

Tran C and Hadfield MG (2011) Larvae of Pocillopora damicornis (Anthozoa) settle and metamorphose in response to surface-biofilm bacteria.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 433:85-96.

Zardus JD, Nedved BT, Huang Y, Tran C, Hadfield MG (2008) Microbial biofilms facilitate adhesion in biofouling invertebrates. Biological Bulletin 214:91-98.


Portrait of Cawa Tran