Team

John H. Morrison, PhD                    Principal Investigator

Dr. John H. Morrison is currently Director of the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), UC Davis Distinguished Professor, Professor of Neurology in the School of Medicine, and Professor in the Center for Neuroscience at UC Davis. Dr. Morrison earned his Bachelor’s Degree and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and completed postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr. Floyd E. Bloom at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.  He then served as a faculty member at The Scripps Research Institute until he joined the faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 1989 where went on to be Chair of the Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and serve as Dean of Basic Sciences and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai before moving to UC Davis in 2015.

Dr. Morrison has served on Council for the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), served as the Editor-in-Chief of SfN’s public-facing website, BrainFacts.org, and was recently elected Secretary of SfN. Dr. Morrison is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Danielle Beckman, PhD                     Postdoctoral Researcher

Danielle came from Brazil in 2017 to join the Morrison lab at the CA Primate Center. Before that, she did her master and PhD in Neuroscience at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the Morrison lab, Danielle is directly involved in the development of the monkey models of Alzheimer’s disease. She is also involved in the project studying the effect of zika virus in the monkey developmental brain, and has a special interest in studying neurovirology in Monkeys. Her main scientific interests are neuroinflammation and cortical organization in primates. For studying that, she has been developing her skills in high resolution microscopy. When she is not in the lab, Danielle likes to spend her time with her boyfriend and cats in short road trips around California. 

Sean Ott                                     Lab Technician

Sean is a Staff Research Associate at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis.  He received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Davis.  During and after his studies, he did pulmonary research with the UCD School of Medicine in asthma and cystic fibrosis, and only recently (2016) made the jump to Neurobiology.  He is a jack of all trades in the lab, doing his best to make everyone's workflow smooth.  Confocal microscopy has recently become his life, and after his current project he will enjoy working in a fully lit room.

Outside of the lab, Sean is an avid backpacker who routinely spends weeks in the wilderness with his wife and dogs.  That is, when he isn't spending time tending to the garden.

Kristine Donis-Cox                          Research Development & Relations Officer

Kris connected with the Primate Center upon joining the Morrison Lab as a post doctoral researcher in 2016 and discovered her professional niche orchestrating creative scientific directives into tangible animal related project requests.  As a Research Development & Relations Officer, Kris facilitates fluid scientific communication and coordinates the launching and execution of projects involving the development of nonhuman primate models of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's Disease.  In 2013, Kris earned her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University (MSU) and later completed a post doctoral appointment with Dr. Nicholas Kanaan in the Department of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine at MSU in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kris brings a multidisciplinary background to the CA National Primate Research Center community and is expanding her knowledge and experience by strengthening corporate partnerships through relationship and service support management.  When Kris is not bringing scientific and animal care resources together, she enjoys listening to music, laughing to comedy, painting and exploring CA terrain in her Jeep Wangler with her family. 

Adele Seelke, PhD                          Project Scientist

Adele received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, studying sleep development with Dr. Mark Blumberg. She then came to UC Davis and completed a postdoc with Dr. Leah Krubitzer studying the evolution and development of the mammalian neocortex. Since then, Adele has worked on the neural basis of complex social behaviors with Dr. Karen Bales, as well as a non-human primate model of Zika infection with Dr. Eliza Bliss-Moreau. In the Morrison lab, she works with whole-brain anatomy and histology, stereology, and anything else that needs doing. 

When she's not in the lab she enjoys cooking, crafting, and trying to keep up with her kids.

Jaleel Jefferson                               PhD student

Jaleel is currently a Neuroscience graduate student at UC Davis and joined the Morrison lab in 2019. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina’s Honors College in 2018 in Public Health and a minor in Neuroscience. His project in the Morrison lab focuses on the HIV Associated Neurocognitive Decline (HAND) monkey model. He has specific interests in neuroinflammation, as well as changes in the synaptic environment that leads to the development of Alzheimer's pathology. Outside of lab, he enjoys a good tv show binge, swimming, cooking and baking.

Amanda Dao                                   Junior Specialist

Amanda graduated from UC Davis in 2018 with a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior and a minor in Art History. She is currently working on fluorescent cell-loading for some of the lab’s ongoing projects. Outside of lab, she enjoys traveling around the world, adventuring, and rock climbing.

Eric Zhou                                     Junior Specialist

Eric received his B.S. Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior; Class of 2018. Currently, he is learning to gain all the experiences he can from his peers and is presently engrossed in a project associated with Tauopathy. He is also certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. Outside of the lab, his current hobbies include traveling and eating new foods, as well as baking and cooking. His preferred method for short travels is longboarding and he loves to go bouldering. 

Lisa Novik                                    Lab Technician

Lisa is a Staff Research Associate at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from UC Davis in 2008. After graduating, she discovered animal training and has happily been performing behavioral training with rhesus macaques to support neuroscience projects ever since! Sometimes, she brings work home by teaching her rescue cat Cricket adorable tricks. When she isn't working, Lisa enjoys camping, baking, reading, and competing in modern pentathlon. But she spends the most time and has the most fun practicing fitness racing (CrossFit) at the gym with other competitive exercisers.

Alyssa Bonillas                                   Junior Specialist

Alyssa is a Sacramento native who received her B.S. in Biology & Psychology from Portland State University in 2019. Prior to graduating, she worked for 2 years as an undergraduate lab assistant at Oregon Health & Science University. She is interested in pursuing a career in neuropathological research, and is planning to eventually obtain a PhD or MD/PhD. When not in the lab she enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, and participating in strength sports including weightlifting and powerlifting.