Graduate Students


If you are passionate about investigating the neural circuits underlying motivated behavior and reward, I encourage you to contact me to discuss a rotation in my lab.  Under Cornell’s uniquely flexible graduate study system, graduate students can work with essentially any advisor in any department, as long as your advisor is a member of your field.  We are currently looking for students from a variety of academic backgrounds, including neuroscience, engineering, psychology, molecular biology, physics, and mathematics.


If you are not a current graduate student and are interested in working with me, the most direct way would be to apply to the Neurobiology and Behavior graduate field. I am also a member of Cornell's Biomedical Engineering, Biomedical & Biological Sciences, and Psychology graduate fields. Please contact me if you would like to discuss our graduate program or the research in my lab.




Postdoctoral Fellows


SFN NeuroJobs position description


The Warden Lab in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University seeks candidates for two fully funded postdoctoral positions. The broad goal of our research program is to understand the neural basis of positively- and negatively-motivated behavioral decision-making. Recent work has focused on dopamine, serotonin, and habenular circuits and their inputs and outputs. We utilize an array of techniques including optogenetics, imaging, high-density freely moving neurophysiology, rodent behavior, and computation.


More information on our research can be found at and in our recent publications:


Seo C, Guru A, Jin M, Ito B, Sleezer BJ, Ho YY, Wang E, Boada C, Krupa NA, Kullakanda DS, Shen CX, Warden MR. Intense threat switches dorsal raphe serotonin neurons to a paradoxical operational mode. Science. 2019 Feb 1;363(6426):aau8722.


Guru A, Seo C, Post RJ, Kullakanda DS, Schaffer JA, Warden MR. Ramping activity in midbrain dopamine neurons signifies the use of a cognitive map. bioRxiv. 2020.05.21.108886.


Post RJ, Bulkin DA, Ebitz RB, Lee V, Han K, Warden MR. Tonic activity in lateral habenula neurons acts as a valence-neutral brake on reward-seeking behavior. Current Biology, in press. bioRxiv. 2021.01.15.426914.


Ideal candidates will have a PhD in Neuroscience, Psychology, or related fields, and an interest in the neural mechanisms underlying motivated behavioral decision-making. A quantitative background, experience in imaging or electrophysiology, and proficiency in MATLAB/Python/R are desirable but not required.


Cornell has a vibrant neuroscience community spanning a wide range of departments and institutes, including Neurobiology and Behavior, Applied and Engineering Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Computational Biology, Psychology, and Biomedical Sciences, an environment which provides a unique opportunity to apply the latest technological innovations to fundamental problems in neuroscience.  Cornell’s scenic campus is located in Ithaca, New York, an intellectually and culturally rich city in the heart of the Finger Lakes.


Interested candidates should send a CV and a brief statement of research interests to Dr. Melissa Warden ( Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the positions are filled. Informal inquiries are welcome.


Diversity and Inclusion: Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty, and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.


Melissa R. Warden, Ph.D.

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

mrwarden [at]