Double majorÂs research aimed at sexual differentiation
Trang is one of two CSULA students to garner the 2013 Phi Kappa Phi Travel Awards
CSULA students selected for the 2013 CSU Student Research Competition
Robert Brown, M.A., Political Science
ÂThe Path to Insurgency: A Comparative Analysis of Afghanistan, Colombia, and AngolaÂ (faculty mentor: Emily Acevedo)
Wendy Dorenbush, M.A., Anthropology
ÂLost Settlements: Rediscovering the Maya Settlement and Landscape of Cahal Pech, BelizeÂ (faculty mentor: James Brady)
Garth Herman, M.S., Electrical Engineering
ÂHybrid Routing Algorithms for Navigation Control of a Semi-Autonomous Robotic PlatformÂ (faculty mentors: Charles Liu and Helen Boussalis)
Andrea Herrera, M.S., Biology
ÂDetermining the mechanism of inhibition of mitochondrial Ca2+ overload by the cocoa flavanol (-)-epicatechin as a means of conferring cardioprotection during ischemiareperfusionÂ (faculty mentor: Katrina Yamazaki)
Michael Martinez, B.S., Chemistry
ÂIdentification of Benzo[a]pyrene Diones as Net Sensitizers of Singlet OxygenÂ (faculty mentors: Krishna Foster and Matthias Selke)
Krystal Messer, M.A., History
ÂTaken for a Ride: How General Motors Drove the Pacific Electric Railway Out of BusinessÂ (faculty mentor: Choi Chatterjee)
Azizkhan Pathan, Joseph David Wells and Benjamin Liu, B.S., Mechanical Engineering
ÂExperimental Sounding Supersonic Rocket DesignÂ (faculty mentor: Darrell Guillaume)
Usama Tohid, M.S., Mechanical Engineering
ÂParametric Analysis of a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell in Single-phase and two-phase RegimesÂ (faculty mentor: Arturo Pacheco-Vega)
Kathy Trang, B.A., Psychology and B.S., Biology
ÂAlternative Splicing: Sexual Differentiation at the TranscriptomeÂ (faculty mentor: Houng-Wei Tsai)
Tony Ye, M.A., Psychology
ÂCognitive Inflexibility After Adolescent Methamphetamine ExposureÂ (faculty mentor: Alicia Izquierdo)
Intrigued by such medical cases as the one of David Reimer, who was sexually reassigned when he was a baby and raised as a female, Cal State L.A.Âs biology/psychology major Kathy Trang delved more earnestly into her research.
With a focus on behavioral neuroendocrinology, Trang has been conducting a compelling study on the neural and genetic mechanisms regulating sexual differentiation.
ÂMany psychologists at one time believed that gender identity was malleable up to 18 months of age,Â said Trang, Âtherefore infants like Reimer were reassigned and presumed to develop normally. However, that wasnÂt the case, and Reimer ended up committing suicide. This made me interested in investigating this field of study even further.Â
Trang, along with Professor Houng-Wei Tsai of CSU Long Beach, worked on the hypothesis that sexual dimorphic expression of splicing factors regulates gene expression post-transcriptionally.
ÂFrom the study, our data demonstrate the importance of both age and sex on the expression of splicing factors found in the developing brain,Â said Trang. ÂThis ultimately suggests a role for alternative splicing in controlling brain sexual differentiation and resultant sex differences in cognitive behaviors and neurological diseases.Â
As more neurological diseases and mental disorders are linked to splicing defects, the role of alternative splicing in regulating brain function has become increasingly probable.
According to Trang, for genes to exert biological effect, they must be translated into proteins. Before translation, however, DNA is transcribed into a premature mRNA that contains regions called introns, which must be removed. The process responsible for this removal is called splicing.
She explained, ÂHowever, different combinations of regions may be removed or retained through a process called alternative splicing, thus allowing for multiple protein products from the same genes.Â
For her research, entitled ÂAlternative Splicing: Sexual Differentiation at the Transcriptome,Â Trang was recently awarded a $500 Phi Kappa Phi Travel Award, as did psychology graduate student Tony Ye for his research on ÂCognitive Inflexibility After Adolescent Methamphetamine Exposure.Â
Trang and Ye are two of only 12 CSULA students selected to represent the University at the 27th Annual CSU Student Research Competition to be held at Cal Poly Pomona this May.
The CSU event each year follows the annual Cal State L.A. Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, which is organized by CSULAÂs Office of Research Development. The aim of the campus symposium is to encourage all Cal State L.A. studentsÂundergraduate and graduate in every disciplineÂto showcase their papers, projects and research endeavors.
ÂI am beyond impressed with KathyÂs intellectual maturity as demonstrated in her research and her knowledge in philosophy, psychology and biology,Â said CSULA Professor Matthias Selke, who is TrangÂs thesis adviser. ÂThis honor is more than well deserved.Â
A DeanÂs List student, Trang is a member the Early Entrance Program Club and the Tea & Sex (Prometheus Today) club on campus. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in transcultural psychiatry upon completing her double degrees at CSULA.
ÂBecause expression of sex and gender varies so much cross-culturally, I became enthralled in understanding how culture becomes biologically embodied and what implications of these are related to sex and gender,Â said Trang. ÂTherein lies my goal to integrate social science with neuroscience in my academic pursuit.Â
CSULA students selected to represent the University at the CSU Student Research Competition: (top, l-r) Robert Brown, Tony Ye, Usama Tohid, Joseph David Wells, Azizkhan Pathan, Krystal Messer, (bottom, l-r) Andrea Herrera, Kathy Trang, Benjamin Liu, Wendy Dorenbush, Garth Herman and (not pictured) Michael Martinez.
Find out more at the following links:
- Office of Research Development at CSULA:
- CSU Student Research Competition:
- Phi Kappa Phi honor society:
- Department of Psychology at CSULA:
- Department of Biological Sciences at CSULA:
- College of Natural and Social Sciences at CSULA: