Biological Sciences

Cawa Tran

Assistant Professor
  • Office Hours (Fall 2018) - TR 10-noon


  • 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 (BIOL 153)
  • Advanced Cellular/Molecular Biology (BIOL 609)
  • Independent Study (BIOL 697)
  • Master's Thesis (BIOL 699)
  • Special Problems (BIOL 399)

Research Interests

Dr. Tran and her students are interested in the molecular & cellular mechanisms mediating symbiosis between cnidarians, dinoflagellates, and bacteria. They use an integrative approach that includes aspects of ecophysiology, microbial ecology, and cell biology to investigate host-microbe interactions in the sea anemone Aiptasia (Exaiptasia pallida), a laboratory model for understanding coral symbiosis and bleaching.

Current research projects within the Tran laboratory include:

  • Determining the mechanisms underlying the establishment, maintenance, and breakdown of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.
  • Characterizing the Aiptasia microbiome and bacterial community changes in response to environmental stress.
  • Studying the photobiology of marine invertebrates to determine how the animal host and its algal symbionts detect and respond to light

Lab Photos

vibrant green photo from lab