Principal Investigator

Melissa R. Warden, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor and Miriam M. Salpeter Fellow, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior


Melissa R. Warden is an Assistant Professor and Miriam M. Salpeter Fellow in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, and is a member of the Cornell Neurotech Advisory Group and the Biomedical Engineering, Psychology, and Biomedical & Biological Sciences graduate fields. She received an A.B. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she investigated prefrontal neuronal encoding of multi-item short-term memory with Earl K. Miller. As a postdoctoral fellow with Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University she studied cortical control of neuromodulatory systems in motivated behavior. Her research at Cornell integrates imaging, neurophysiological, and cellular and molecular approaches to study the neural circuits regulating motivated behavior and their dysfunction.



Melissa's CV


Papers: Google Scholar | PubMed | bioRxiv


Email: mrwarden [at]


Twitter: @MelissaRWarden

Videos of recent public talks:


"Ramping activity in midbrain dopamine neurons signifies the use of a cognitive map"  Virtual Dopamine Conference (ViDA) 2021


"Neuromodulation and the balance between goal-directed and reactive behavior"  Joint Seminar in Neuroscience, UCLA 2020

Research Associates

Kristine E. Kolkman, Ph.D.


Ph.D., Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego

B.S., Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine


Kristine E. Kolkman is a research associate in Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. She received a B.S. in Neurobiology and Behavior from University of California -Irvine, and a Ph.D. in Neurosciences from University of California -San Diego where she studied intrinsic electrophysiological properties of neurons in the pre- and post-cerebellar circuits in Sascha du Lac’s lab at the Salk Institute. She did her postdoctoral work in the lab of Joe Fetcho at Cornell University studying the activity of multiple brain areas in larval and adult zebrafish, and she helped develop techniques to allow imaging in live, intact adult zebrafish. Kristine’s research in the Warden lab focuses on understanding motivation to engage in reward seeking behaviors and the functional role of inputs to the lateral habenula in regulating behavior.


Graduate Students

Cole Roland, B.S.


Ph.D. student in Neurobiology and Behavior

B.S., Biology, Haverford College


Cole received his Bachelor’s in Biology from Haverford College, where he studied the neural substrates of decision making in zebrafish. At Cornell, he is continuing to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying motivation and decision making, currently using mouse models. In his free time, he enjoys making music, playing soccer, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Chelsea Strawder, B.S., B.A.


Ph.D. student in Neurobiology and Behavior

B.S., Comparative and Evolutionary Neuroscience, University of Florida

B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida




Diala Noofoory, B.A.


Ph.D. student in Neurobiology and Behavior

B.A., Psychology, Rutgers University





Ivan Kondratyev, B.A.


Ph.D. student in Neurobiology and Behavior

B.A., Philosophy and Neuroscience, Boston University




Research Assistants

Deepika Gupta, B.S.


B.S., Physics, Cornell University



Raf Chociej


Undergraduate in Human Health, Biology, and Society.



Lab Alumni

Akash Guru → Postdoc with Feng Zhang, MIT/Broad Institute → Deep Origin

Brie Sleezer → Medical Writer and Data Analysis Consultant

Changwoo Seo → Postdoc with Catherine Dulac, Harvard University

Dave Bulkin → Senior Software Engineer, Mathworks

Eileen Troconis → Completing DVM component of DVM/PhD, Cornell University

Ryan Post → Postdoc with Nick Betley, University of Pennsylvania

Wenchao Gu → Research Associate with Shaoyi Jiang, Cornell University

Yi-Yun Ho → Postdoc with Guoping Feng, MIT/Broad Institute

Yuval Baumel → Machine Learning Researcher, Intuition Robotics

Melissa R. Warden, Ph.D.

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

mrwarden [at]