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Graduate Program

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Overview

Cornell’s Ph.D. program in Neurobiology and Behavior (NB&B) is unique.  Our program integrates the study of neurobiology with behavior at all levels of analysis.  Our research approaches the field from the study of ion channels through neural networks all the way to the behavior of animal societies. We draw from faculty in a variety of disciplines including Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physics, Entomology, Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Neurobiology and Behavior. 

Training:

The background and interests of our graduate students is broad and varied. Because of this diversity, each student’s course of study is tailored to his or her needs and background.  In addition to a wide variety of neurobiology and behavior classes, we offer laboratory courses to get the training you need for your thesis project.  These labs include neurophysiology, molecular neurobiology, bioacoustics, modeling behavioral evolution, computational neuroscience, animal behavior, and patch clamping.  

Academic Environment:

We have a weekly seminar series in which internationally renowned scientists are invited to present their research.  Following each seminar, graduate students are encouraged to have lunch with the speaker.  This provides a great opportunity to meet other scientists from around the world and talk science. Two separate weekly journal clubs are also offered in different focus areas.  The topics in neural basis of behavior links neural networks and behavior, and lunch bunch examines topics in animal behavior.

Applying:

Our graduate program is for academically talented undergraduates with a strong interest in neurobiology and/or behavior. Students admitted into the program are guaranteed 5 years of support in the form of either training grant fellowships, research assistantships, or teaching fellowships. The deadline to apply is December 1.   apply, simply click on this application link.

Contacts and Faculty:

Director of Graduate Studies
Michael S. Webster
W361 Mudd Hall
607 254-4340 (tmn3@cornell.edu)
 

Click here to browse a list of all faculty in the graduate field 

Requirements

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree include:

  • one semester of teaching experience;
  • a survey course in neurobiology and behavior;
  • annual meetings with the special committee;
  • A-exam by end of second, or beginning of third year
  • Research proposal for thesis research to special committee by end of third year

The field has no formal language requirement, but one can be imposed by the student's Special Committee. The field also requires each student to give a publicly announced seminar as part of the dissertation defense.

The field of Neurobiology and Behavior does not offer a Master’s degree.

msw244@cornell.edu

Information for Prospective Graduate Students

The Graduate Field of Neurobiology and Behavior

Prospective graduate students apply to Graduate Fields of Study at Cornell University, rather than to specific departments. Most Graduate Fields – Neurobiology and Behavior included – involve members from more than one Department, bringing together faculty and students with shared intellectual interests irrespective of their ostensible departmental homes.

The Graduate Field of Neurobiology and Behavior integrates the study of neurobiology with behavior at all levels of analysis. Our research approaches the field from the study of ion channels through neural networks all the way to the behavior of animal societies. We draw from faculty in a variety of disciplines including Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physics, Entomology, Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Neurobiology and Behavior.

The background and interests of graduate students in this field are broad and varied. Because of this diversity, each student’s course of study is tailored to their needs and pre-existing training. In addition to a wide variety of neurobiology and behavior classes, NBB offers laboratory courses to provide the training necessary to complete thesis project work. Lab courses include neurophysiology, molecular neurobiology, bioacoustics, modeling behavioral evolution, computational neuroscience, animal behavior, and patch clamping.

Ph.D. Program Funding Information

Our graduate program is for academically talented undergraduates with a strong interest in neurobiology and/or behavior. Students admitted to the program are guaranteed 5 years of support, typically a combination across years of training grant fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching fellowships.

Applying to the Program 

The deadline for fall admission is December 1. There is no spring admission. The application for Fall 2018 will be available online in early September 2017.

For more information about applying, go here. If you have questions about the application process, please contact Graduate Field Assistant Terri Natoli. If you have questions about the graduate program as a whole, please contact Director of Graduate Studies Mike Webster.

If you’re ready to apply, click here to apply now.

Funding Information for Current Students

Last updated: August 16, 2016

For those of you on TA/GRAships:

  • Stipends for TAships/GRAships are entered into the WorkDay system with a start date of August 16, and you’ll get your first paycheck on the last day of August.
  • Paychecks are semi-monthly – that is, after that first one at the end of August, a check will be issued every 15th and every last day of the month (unless that day falls on a weekend or a holiday – in those cases, you’ll get the check the closest workday before).
     
  • An assistantship is taxable, and you’ll be able to see each payslip’s details by logging in to WorkDay (which you can find at http://workday.cornell.edu and access using your netID and password combination). If you need assistance in navigating this web application, schedule a short meeting with me and I’m happy to help you learn to navigate it.
  • The Fall period runs from August 16 – December 31, and the Spring period runs from January 1 – May 15. If you have an assistantship that runs only for the Fall, then your last paycheck will be on December 31. If you have a Spring assistantship, your last paycheck will be on May 15.
     
  • Direct deposit is highly advised, and can now be coordinated in WorkDay. If you have not been a TA/GRA before, you will need to set up direct deposit for Payroll via WorkDay. This is not the same as direct deposit for Bursar transactions, or direct deposit for reimbursements. Direct deposited checks will be available at the latest on the pay date; it can take up to a week after for the paper check to be delivered via US mail.

For those of you on Fellowships (this applies to Cornell University & PLSF, to SUNY, to NSF or other outside fellowships that cover stipend, tuition, and health insurance):

  • The stipend for a fellowship is paid out in two equal installments – one at the beginning of the Fall semester, and one at the beginning of the Spring semester. Summer support for Fellowships works similarly; you’ll get more information toward the end of the school year about this.

    Some caveats:
     
  • Disbursement of the Fall installment will occur on/around August 17th. After the stipend is disbursed, it will likely take 2-3 days to get to you via direct deposit, and about a week for a paper check to be delivered to Day Hall (where you’d have to pick it up).
     
  • You can set up direct deposit for Bursar transactions by going here: https://www.dfa.cornell.edu/bursar/students-parents/deposit-refunds. FYI: Direct deposit for Bursar transactions is a different system than the direct deposit system for payroll or the direct deposit system for reimbursements.
     
  • If you are a domestic student, your Fellowship stipend will not be taxed at disbursement; nevertheless, you are likely responsible for paying taxes on the full amount, so you’ll want to keep this in mind. We highly recommend that you talk with a tax professional familiar with graduate student situations earlier, rather than later. 
     
  • If you are an international student, you will be subject to 14% withholding of taxes. We have noticed that, at least in the past, this isn’t set up for the first Fall semester, so it’s possible that you’ll notice a higher stipend payout in the fall, and that you’re getting 86% thereof in the Spring. You may be able to recoup these taxes – talking with a tax professional who understands international student circumstances will be able to provide the most useful course of action.

If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact Terri Natoli.