Principal Investigator

Alex Nord

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.


More about Alex Nord, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Jess Haigh

Jess Haigh, Ph.D.

My career in science began at the University of Leeds in the UK where I completed my undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences. Still in Leeds, I then went on to study for a Ph.D. in Neuroscience where I investigated novel ways to target neurons in the CNS via peripheral delivery, utilising both viruses and repurposed bacterial toxins. Then it was time for me explore a little further afield than Yorkshire as a postdoctoral researcher in the Nord lab. My current research interests involve investigating transcriptional enhancers and how they link to neurological disease. When not in the lab I love being outdoors as much as possible, be it gardening, hiking or attempting to take photographs of nature; I am also a very keen cook and baker.



Jason Lambert

Jason Lambert, Ph.D.

I got my start in science at Southern Oregon University, where I worked in the lab of Dr. Darlene Southworth, using molecular genetic techniques to study the ecology of symbiotic fungi which live in the roots of plants. After completing my bachelor’s at SOU, I moved to UC Davis, where I earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in the lab of Dr. Karen Zito, investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. As a postdoc in the Nord lab, I am exploring how genetic changes impact neurodevelopmental processes both during primate and human evolution and in neurodevelopmental disorders. In my spare time, I enjoy tinkering with old electronics, completing home improvement projects, and making my son laugh.



Cesar Canales

Cesar Canales, Ph.D.

I am a developmental biologist with interest in molecular mechanisms and gene regulation that govern physiopathological processes in neurodevelopmental disorders. Originally from Chile, I received my Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from UNSW, Australia where I studied the neurological and somatic functions of the gene GTF2IRD1 and its contribution to Williams Beuren Syndrome pathology. My research interest as a postdoctoral researcher in the Nord lab is in the study of mouse models relevant to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and characterization of phenotypic consequences of maternal immune activation (MIA) in the developing brain. When not in the lab, I am most likely spending time with my family or riding my bike in town or country roads around Davis area.



Karol Cichewicz

Karol Cichewicz, Ph.D.

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.


Graduate Students

Linda Su-Feher

Linda Su-Feher

After graduating from UC Davis as a Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major, I spent time working in basic cardiophysiology research. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at UC Davis and joined the Nord Lab in 2014. I am broadly interested in how gene expression is regulated during brain development and how regulation is perturbed in neurodevelopmental disorders. My current research includes developing high-throughput reporter assays to investigate how sequence variation in enhancers impacts gene expression in the brain. When I'm not in lab, I can be found drawing, listening to podcasts and audio dramas, and hiking around the coast. I am also an active member of scientific equity and outreach programs like ESTEME.



Rinaldo Catta-Preta

Rinaldo Catta-Preta

Changing gears from a corporate career in agricultural R&D, I decided to develop myself into the fascinating area of computational genetics/neurogenomics. I am interested in using and developing computational statistical approaches for the analysis of genomic, epigenomic and related data related to the developing brain. My current interests lie on the elucidation of the wiring of some transcription factors and enhancers in pre-natal mouse cortical and basal ganglial regions, and on the epigenomic changes in the pre-natal mouse brain associated with challenges to the maternal immune system. When out of work/class, I devote my time to my family and interacting with my son.

E-mail: | Twitter: @RCatta_Preta | More info about Rinaldo


Ayanna Wade

Ayanna Wade

I graduated from Augustana College in my home state of Illinois, where I double majored in Neuroscience and Philosophy. During my time at Augie, I was engaged in multiple research projects largely surveying the psychological underpinnings of memory and other cognitive processes. As a Neuroscience graduate student at Davis, I have become interested in how gene regulation can impact synaptic development, function, and maintenance, as a way to investigate the cellular and molecular underpinnings of cognition in typical development as well as in disease. In my free time I enjoy consuming Japanese food and media, playing video games, singing, learning new languages, and spending time with my wonderful husband and dog.


Junior Specialists

Iva Zdilar

Iva Zdilar

I have a background in neuroscience and a strong interest in neurological diseases. Working in this laboratory I hope to understand the molecular mechanisms behind some of these disorders and eventually work with patients. Some of my other interests include: music, traveling, design, painting, hiking. I also really enjoy volunteering and learning.



Justin Lim

Sarah Morse

I first became interested in epigenetics and neurobiology during my undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I went on to earn my MS degree from UAB researching the role of histone modifications in age-related memory decline. After graduation, I worked as a technician at the Johns Hopkins University and next as a lab manager at the University of California, Irvine where I studied hematologic malignancies. After several years in cell biology labs, I joined the Nord Lab to get back to my molecular biology roots and learn more about genomics. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me cooking, cycling, hiking my way through the national park system, or hanging out with my dogs.



Diana Quintero

I am a third-year Biological Sciences Major. I am currently interested in how gene regulation is involved in neurological diseases, and how treatments for these diseases can be develop. After undergrad, I hope to get into grad school in the realm of molecular biology. In my free time, I like to watch interesting shows, journal, and read.

Lauren Hobbs

I am currently a second-year community college student majoring in biology with hopes of transferring to a UC next year. I am mostly interested in cell and developmental biology, as well as genetics and how genes may be linked to various diseases and disorders. Some of my other interests include watching TV, listening to music, and traveling.

Nick Wong

I am a fifth-year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major and am interested in gene therapy and the role of regulatory elements in gene expression, especially pertaining to the brain. I am hoping to pursue a masters in genetics or bioinformatics after my time as an undergraduate. I like passing time through playing piano and guitar, studying languages, and watching TV shows.

Samrawit Agezew

I am a fifth-year Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior major. I am interested in genetic interactions that underlie various neurodevelopmental disorders and the mechanisms behind them. After my bachelor’s degree, I plan on pursuing a career in the MD/PhD path. Apart from school and work, I like to go salsa dancing, watch medical/comedy TV shows, and spend time with friends.

Paris Beauregard

I am a senior transfer, majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior with a minor in English. My research interests pertain to the role of genetics in the development of complex brain disorders, as well as their underlying molecular mechanisms. After completing my BS, I would like to attend medical school, with the intention of becoming a neurologist or psychiatrist. Outside the world of academia, I work in a psychiatric crisis facility, and can often be found babbling about astrology or listening to Harry Potter audiobooks (again).

Hafsa Mir

I am a transfer student starting my fourth year as a Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior major with a minor in Psychology! I will be working on the Chd8 project under Dr. Cesar Canales. I am eager to learn more about the mutations in this gene and what they can lead to, including their relation to autism. I am really interested in genetics in general as well as neuroscience, and I am very excited to be part of lab that includes both of these aspects in its research. When I am not at school or work, I enjoy spending time outside, hanging out with my friends, and watching TV shows.

Spencer Moss

I am a fifth-year senior as a Biotechnology major and am fascinated with molecular biology and neurobiology. I hope to apply this information as I continue my path into medicine. My current research interests pertain to the genetics behind neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In my free time I love listening to electronic music, hanging with my friends, and hitting the gym.

Ellie Kreun

I am a second year transfer student majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Biology, and a minor in the Spanish language. I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in the realm of Neurobiology. I am interested in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, and their underlying genetic and neurological causes. I work alongside Cesar Canales on the maternal immune activation project and the study of mouse models as they relate to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Outside of the lab, I can be found reading, practicing yoga, or dreaming of my future travels.

Viktoria Haghani

I am a third-year Genetics and Genomics major. My primary interest lies in the CRISPR/Cas9 system and the implications it holds in disease biology and human health. I look forward to getting a PhD in genetics and further exploring my passion for genetics. I am also interested in environmental sciences and actively participate in organizations that promote sustainability. Outside of lab, I enjoy camping, hiking, tennis, swimming, and spending time with my friends and family.

Tina Pham

My name is Tina Pham and I am currently a third year Biological Sciences major and Public Health minor. I will be working under Dr. Karol Cichewicz to study maternal immune activation (MIA) in mice developing (prenatal and postnatal) brains and how it’s relevant to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After completing my B.S., I hope to pursue a career in medicine and to help the underserved population. Apart from school, I enjoy going back to my hometown San Jose to my 3 pups and 1 kitty, hiking, and adventuring to new food and boba places.

Staff, Student, and Postdoc Alumni

Justin Lim

Tyler Stradleigh, Ph.D.

Andrea Gompers, Ph.D.

Christopher Cowing-Zitron

Jasmine Garcha

Undergraduate Alumni

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