Alex Nord, Ph.D.

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where I worked with Mary-Claire King, identifying the genetic causes of human diseases and disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.  I did a postdoctoral fellowship at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with Axel Visel, Len Pennacchio, and Eddy Rubin working on mouse models of development and functional genomics. I am interested in the genetic and epigenetic systems that control gene regulation in the brain. I joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2014. I grew up in Seattle, WA and enjoy time away from the lab with my family, taking advantage of living in California through all means of outdoor activities across all seasons. I used to play a lot of ultimate frisbee and soccer.

Email: asnord@ucdavis.edu

More about Alex Nord, Ph.D.

Assistant Researcher

Cesar Canales, Ph.D.

Cesar Canales

I am a developmental biologist and interdisciplinary research scientist, focusing on molecular mechanisms and environmental influences in neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). I received my PhD from UNSW Sydney in Australia. My current research  investigates genetic and environmental risk factors involved in NDDs, including monogenic autism, intellectual disability, and prenatal exposure to maternal immune signaling. Utilizing mouse models, I investigate cerebral cortex and cerebellum perturbations and gene-environment interactions, employing advanced techniques such as genome editing, high-throughput sequencing, and imaging technologies. As an Assistant Professional Researcher in the Nord lab, appointed through the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, I am developing an independent research program using these cutting-edge techniques aiming to identify commonalities and divergences across NDDs, with the ultimate goal of developing targeted interventions. I am dedicated to actively contributing to the scientific community not only through publications, presentations and peer-review activities, but also student mentoring;  my enthusiasm lies in contributing to research and academic excellence at UC Davis. Outside the lab, I enjoy spending time with family, biking, and playing guitar.

Email: ccanales@ucdavis.edu

Postdoctoral Scholars

Karol Cichewicz, Ph.D.

Karol Cichewicz

I received my PhD from the University of Virginia where I worked with Dr. Jay Hirsh on identifying compensatory mechanisms responding to the loss of dopamine in our fruit fly model of Parkinson’s disease. During my doctoral studies I used genomic, transcriptomic, and behavioral approaches. I also developed a software for analyzing Drosophila behavior. In the Nord lab I am studying the developmental processes in a mouse model relevant to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Schizophrenia (SZ) induced by the maternal immune activation (MIA). I am interested in studying physiological processes in the brain using functional genomics and molecular biology techniques. In my free time I enjoy the nature and wildlife of California, cooking, and spending time with my family.

Email: kcichewicz@ucdavis.edu

Ana Santos, Ph.D.

My interest in neuroscience started at the end of my undergraduate studies at Rutgers University. This led me to work with Sabina Berretta, MD as a technician where I studied extracellular matrix abnormalities in psychiatric disorders. I then moved to the University of Utah for graduate work where I developed a new neural activity assay for studying secreted factors in neuron-astrocyte communication. In the Nord lab, I am interested in understanding the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression mediated by enhancers and their impact on neurodevelopmental processes and disease. When I’m not in the lab I enjoy getting outside for a hike, a hammock or just eating baked goods..

Email: anasantos@ucdavis.edu


Graduate Students

Tracy Warren

Tracy Warren

I entered UC Davis’s Neuroscience Ph.D. program in 2018 after graduating from UC Berkeley with a psychology degree and subsequently working in a psychiatry lab at UCSF. Since joining the Nord lab in 2019, I have been investigating how common genomic variants converge to alter biological pathways toward schizophrenia. My ultimate research goal is to parse apart distinct, potentially treatable, pathways toward psychiatric symptoms. I’m an avid fan of anything coffee, linguistics, or Harry Potter, and my spare time is generally divided between woodworking and trying to make my cat (named Cat) Instagram-famous.

Email: tlwarren@ucdavis.edu

Yurong Wang

Yurong Wang

I graduated from UC San Diego under Molecular biology and with a psychology minor. After joining the Nord lab in 2020 as a graduate student from Integrative Genetics and Genomics Ph.D. program, I started learning interneuron development via computational genomics using experimental datasets. In my spare time, I like playing the piano, enjoying music, and wandering alongside the streets.

Email: yurwang@ucdavis.edu

Cory Ardekani

I graduated from Temple University in 2018 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. Afterwards I spent two years working with Dr. Debra Bangasser investigating sex differences in stress responses with an emphasis on the effects of early life stress on development and behavior. I then joined UC Davis’s Psychology program (specializing in Biopsychology) in 2020 and joined the Nord lab in Spring 2021. I am interested in environmental effects on genes and how it can lead to the development of neurodevelopment and psychiatric disorders. In my free time I enjoy going on hikes, playing video games, brewing tea/coffee, and playing music.

Email: csardekani@ucdavis.edu

Stephanie Lozano

Stephanie Lozano

I earned my B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017, then spent 2 years working as a lab tech in Dr. Yang Li’s genetic medicine lab at the University of Chicago. I started in UC Davis’ Neuroscience Graduate Group in 2020 and joined the Nord lab in 2021, intending to study the molecular bases of complex neurological and neurodevelopmental diseases. I'm particularly interested in the genetic underpinnings of neuroimmune crosstalk in the central nervous system and periphery, and how dysregulation of this crosstalk may be implicated in disease pathology. Outside of the lab, I love to cook, exercise, be outdoors, listen to music, take care of my plants, and work on various art projects.

Email: salozano@ucdavis.edu

Emily Smith

I graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Biochemistry in 2020, then joined the BMCDB graduate program at UC Davis later that year. In the Nord lab, I am investigating the interactome of proteins associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In my free time, I like watching Netflix, reading, crocheting, and trying new baking recipes.

Email: emosmith@ucdavis.edu

Nicolas Seban

I graduated from UC San Diego in 2017 majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Marine Science. Following graduation, I spent the next 3 years working in Dr. Supriya Srinivasan’s lab at TSRI, where I ran functional genetic assays in C. elegans to study neuronal control of metabolism. I returned to my hometown in 2021 to begin a PhD in the UC Davis Neuroscience program and subsequently joined the Nord Lab in the Summer of 2022. I’m primarily interested in looking at cell-type specific dysregulation of gene expression in models of neurodevelopmental disease. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, backpacking, surfing, and hanging out with my new puppy.

Email: nrseban@ucdavis.edu

Nickolas Chu

I graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S in Biochemistry. Afterwards I entered into the NIH Postbac IRTA program, where I researched topics of neurogenetics and behavior in the lab of Harold Burgess. From this experience I found what excites me most in science; tracing the origin of physical traits and behavior across several levels of biology. This led to me pursuing a Ph.D in the BMCDB graduate group at UC Davis, where in the spring of 2022 I joined the Nord lab. Outside of the lab I enjoy watching movies, playing board games, and spending time with my friends and family

Email: nclchu@ucdavis.edu

Ethan Fenton

I am a Neuroscience PhD student interested in understanding and treating diseases via genetic modalities. I graduated from University of Richmond in 2020 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular biology and a minor in Interdisciplinary Sciences. I enjoy learning about developing technologies that bring large amounts of data such as single cell resolution omics techniques, and thinking about how they may be useful in drug development. I am studying the genetic underpinnings of opioid abuse. In my free time I like to play tennis, ski, and watch movies.

Email: emfenton@ucdavis.edu

UC Davis PREP Scholar

Kiya Jackson, B.S.

I graduated from UC Davis in June 2022 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. As an undergraduate, I spent two years conducting research in Dr. Joanna Chiu’s lab where I studied post-translational regulations of circadian rhythms. After graduating, I joined the Nord lab as an NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP@UCD) scholar to explore genetics and translational research. I look forward to challenging my understanding of biology as well as learning from a collaborative and investigative environment. I hope to attend graduate school in the future. In my free time, I enjoy playing/watching sports, drawing, cooking, listening to music, and spending time with family.

Email: kcjackson@ucdavis.edu

Undergraduates and Volunteers

Amina Muhić

I am a third year Genetics and Genomics major. I enjoy learning about mechanisms of gene regulation and cellular differentiation. Namely, I am interested in understanding how the dysregulation of gene expression can contribute to complex neurodevelopmental disorders. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I hope to attend graduate school and pursue a career in research. I

n my free time, I like hiking, spending time with family/friends, and crocheting.

Melissa Corea

I am a third year, majoring in Genetics and Genomics and minoring in Neuroscience. I joined the Nord Lab in 2022 because I wanted to gain hands-on experience studying gene expression and its regulation. Throughout my time here, I have discovered an interest in studying how these processes affect brain structure and function, as well as their role in the development of neurological and psychiatric disorders. I hope to continue my studies into graduate school and pursue a career in neurogenomic research. I spend most of my free time playing volleyball, watching shows / movies, and doing escape rooms with my friends.

Daniela Perla

I am a third year Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior major with a minor in Public Health. I joined this lab because ever since genetics last year I became fascinated by the role that genetics plays in the development of several neurological disorders. I am interested in learning how the maternal immune system affects the development of neuropathologies in fetuses through gene regulation. I am looking forward to doing a post-bacc program after graduation and then going to medical school to become an OBGYN that practices medicine through a holistic and sustainable approach.

Neha Hariharan

I am a third year majoring in Genetics & Genomics as well as Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. I joined this lab because I became interested in epigenetic factors within the expression of neurological disorders and their role in furthering drug development. Joining this lab has sparked my interest in research and I plan to continue my studies through graduate school. In my free time I enjoy painting, creating stained glass pieces, and printmaking.

Aspen Kopley-Smith

I am a third year majoring in Biotechnology as well as a minor in Psychology. I became interested in the Nord Lab after taking Dr. Nord's Gene and Expression class. I am looking forward to learning more about genetic factors playing a role in developmental and neurological disorders while improving my wet lab techniques. I hope to use this experience to pursue genetic counseling, allowing me to help the general public understand their own genetics. Outside of lab, I enjoy hiking, weightlifting, photography, and cooking with friends!

Darlene Rahbarian

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences. I am currently interested in learning about gene expression in the developing brain and how mutations are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After I graduate, I plan on pursuing a research related career in the field of neuroscience. When I have free time I like to  paint, listen to music, and hangout with friends and family.

Christopher Leung

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Genetics and Genomics. I am interested in learning about how enhancers affect gene expression and how certain SNPs are associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders. After I graduate, I plan on pursuing a research related career in the field of neuroscience and pursue grad school afterwards. I like to watch bad reality TV and sketch human portraits in my free time.

Mira Ramachandran

I am a fourth year Global Disease Biology major with a minor in Art History. I am interested in learning about neurological disorders such as autism as well as  maternal immune activation. I hope to go to medical school and pursue a career in pediatric immunology after graduating. In my free time, I love to watch basketball and garden.

Ksenia Medvedeva

I am a fourth-year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior student with aspirations for a career in healthcare, particularly in anesthesiology. My decision to join the Nord Lab was driven by my interest in acquiring hands-on experience in a wet lab, specifically focusing on gene techniques. Given my interest in medicine, I believe it is crucial for me to understand the methodology behind the research supporting medical claims. This, combined with my interest in the causation of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is precisely what drew me to the Nord Lab. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and weightlifting.

Chenghao Yu (Ailay)

I’m an undergraduate student majoring Biological Sciences and Art Studio. I joined Nord Lab to gain experience on lab technology. Lately I been learning and doing genotyping and helping to manage the mice colonies. After I graduate, I plan to go to graduate school to continue my studies in biology area. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring, doing art, cooking and playing video games.

Trainee and Staff Alumni


Ayanna Wade, Ph.D. (Neuroscience)
Linda Su-Feher, Ph.D. (BMCDB)
Rinaldo Catta-Preta, Ph.D. (IGG)


Jason Lambert, PhD.
Jess Haigh, Ph.D.
Tyler Stradleigh, Ph.D.
Andrea Gompers, Ph.D.


Sarah Morse
Iva Zdilar
Justin Lim
Christopher Cowing-Zitron
Jasmine Garcha

Undergraduate Alumni

Luis Farrach
Milena Corona
Akshat Khandelwal
Aditi Goyal
Rebecca Ortiz
Jiyuan Zhu
Erika Castillo
Viktoria Haghani
Diana Quintero
Jack Good
Bradley Jenner
Paris Beauregard
Nick Wong
Tina Pham
Ellie Kreun
Hannah Parolini
Diwash Srestha
Emma Connolly
Samrawit Agezew
Hafsa Mir
Nick Wong
Spencer Moss
Michael Sramek
Ryan Ward
Vasco Morais
Anh Nguyen
Kimia Akbari
Alex Mawla
Shreya Louis
Raychelle Laureano
Yeni Belachew
Leslie Matheu
Danielle Dougan
Lyndon Liu
Paige Morgan
Lauren Hobbs

Previous Trainees


Linda Su-Feher

Linda Su-Feher, Ph.D

BMCDB Graduate Group (degree awarded 2020)

Email: lsu@ucdavis.edu



Rinaldo Catta-Preta

Rinaldo Catta-Preta, Ph.D.

IGG Graduate Group (degree awarded 2020)

E-mail: rpreta@ucdavis.edu | Twitter: @RCatta_Preta | More info about Rinaldo



Ayanna Wade

Ayanna Wade, Ph.D.

Neuroscience Graduate Group (degree awarded 2020)

Email: aawade@ucdavis.edu