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

Postdoctoral Fellows

Akash Guru, Ph.D.


Ph.D. Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University

M.S., B.S., Biology, IISER Pune


Graduate Students

Eileen Troconis, B.A., M.Phil.


DVM/PhD student in Biomedical & Biological Sciences

M.Phil., Veterinary Science, University of Cambridge

B.S., Biology, Amherst College

Caleb Vogt, B.Sc.


Ph.D. student in Neurobiology and Behavior, co-advised with Mike Sheehan

B.Sc., Neuroscience and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Michigan


Caleb is interested in integrating behavioral ecological and evolutionary approaches with neuroscience to understand how social behaviors are regulated. He is jointly advised with the Sheehan lab in NBB at Cornell.

Caitlin Miller, B.A.


Ph.D. student in Neurobiology and Behavior, co-advised with Mike Sheehan

B.A., Biology, Reed College


I’m interested in the genetic and neural basis of social behaviors. My research experiences have spanned a range of organisms and system levels, from studying baboon aggression in the wild to gene expression differences in astrocytes during neuronal maturation in cell culture. These experiences have driven me to be fascinated by the kinds of questions that you can ask at the intersection of behavior and neuroscience.



Rotation 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.


Research Assistants

Deepika Gupta, B.S.


B.S., Physics, Cornell University



Raf Chociej


Undergraduate in Human Health, Biology, and Society.


Lab Alumni

Graduate Students

2021 Akash Guru, Ph.D. → Postdoc with Feng Zhang, MIT/Broad Institute

2021 Yi-Yun Ho, Ph.D. → Postdoc with Michael Halassa, MIT

2020 Changwoo Seo, Ph.D → Postdoc with Catherine Dulac, Harvard University

2020 Ryan Post, Ph.D. → Postdoc with Nick Betley, University of Pennsylvania


2020 Wenchao Gu, Ph.D. → Research Associate in Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University

2020 Brie Sleezer, Ph.D. → Freelance Science and Medical Writer

2019 Yuval Baumel, Ph.D → Machine Learning Researcher, Intuition Robotics

2019 Dave Bulkin, Ph.D. → Senior Software Engineer, Mathworks


Melissa R. Warden, Ph.D.

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

mrwarden [at]