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John H. Morrison, Ph.D.
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,, and was recently elected Secretary of SfN. Dr. Morrison is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Sean Ott 
Lab Director


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.

Danielle Beckman, Ph.D.   
Associate Proj. Scientist

Danielle came from Brazil in 2017 to join the Morrison lab at the CA Primate Center. Before that, she did her master's and Ph.D. 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 the 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 gardening or on short road trips around California.

Giovanne “Gio” B. Diniz is a postdoctoral scholar at the Morrison lab. Originally from Brazil, he has a B.S. in Molecular Sciences from the University of Sao Paulo, with a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. Passionate for brain structure and function, Gio has obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Maastricht University in the Netherlands in 2018 and a Ph.D. in Systems Biology from his alma mater in 2019. He then completed a postdoctoral appointment in neurovirology at the Department of Neurosurgery at the Yale School of Medicine before jumping into aging and neurodegenerative diseases at the Morrison lab in 2021. A morphologist by training, he is interested in the structural and neurochemical alterations that may underlie pathological conditions. When not looking down a scope, Gio is often reading, cooking, or binging on British crime shows with his partner.

Giovanne B. Diniz, Ph.D.     
Postdoctoral Researcher

Devon J. Griggs, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher


Devon has completed three degrees in Electrical Engineering, including a Ph.D. in 2022 at the University of Washington with a strong focus in neural engineering. He is now complementing his education by pursuing postdoctoral training in neuroscience. Specifically, Devon is studying the impact of tau on the brain. Outside of the lab, he loves his wife and church and often craves pizza.

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.

Kayla Schwartz  
Lab Assistant

Kayla graduated from UC Davis in 2019 with a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and is now a Lab Assistant in the Morrison Lab. She is preparing for a future in either academia or continuing on the technical route of scientific research, whichever seems to resonate with her more in the coming years. When not in the lab, she spends a lot of time reading sci-fi/fantasy books, painting miniatures for D&D, gardening, and obsessing over Pembroke Welsh Corgis. (The corgi obsession may happen in the lab as well!)

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