We are always looking for new people to join our team. We strive to be an inclusive group and welcome people from all backgrounds to apply to come into the lab. As a mentor, one of my priorities is getting trainees to the next stage of career, whether the goal is to establish a lab at an R1 institution, find a position in a teaching college, go into industry, secure a postdoctoral position, or get into graduate school. To achieve this, I am hands on in the process of experimental design, grant writing, and establishing an achievable set of targets that will help trainees to reach their next step. Postdocs and graduate students in the lab will also have experience to mentor students and are encouraged to take on mentorship wherever they would like.  

Open Postdoctoral Positions:

We have space for another 1-2 postdocs to work on NIH/NSF/BBRF-funded projects. These grants span the investigation of multiple neural circuits involved in reinforcement learning, including in both appetitive and aversive procedures. These projects use optogenetics, chemogenetics, and fiber photometry of genetically-encoded calcium and dopamine sensors, to study the role of neural circuits in various learning phenomena. Our most relevant publications to these projects would be Seitz et al. 2022 and Sharpe et al. 2021. If you are interested in applying to join the lab, you can contact me at melissa.j.sharpe@psych.ucla.edu. Let me know what you have been working on in the past, why you’re interested in the lab, and the kinds of projects you see yourself doing in the future.

Potential Graduate Students:

We accept graduate students through two programs at UCLA. The first is through the Behavioral Neuroscience Area of the UCLA Psychology Graduate Program. Here, you would generally be admitted directly to the lab after successful application to the program. The other is the UCLA Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program (NSIDP), where you would rotate in three labs that could include ours before making a decision as to where you would like to complete your graduate studies.

If you’re interested in conducting your graduate studies in the lab, it is always good to reach out before applying (melissa.j.sharpe@psych.ucla.edu). When doing so, you can give a bit of background about your research interests and experience, and why you’re interested in doing your graduate studies in the lab. 

Experience for Undergraduate Students:

We have a number of undergraduates that are currently in the lab. The best time to get in touch for new positions in the lab for undergraduates is a few months out from the commencement of Fall quarter, which is generally when other students will finish their time in the lab. With all our undergraduate students in the lab, we aim to have you contribute meaningfully to a project and to engage with the lab culture. You’re also encouraged to join lab meetings. If you’re interested in getting experience in the lab, get in touch with us (melissa.j.sharpe@psych.ucla.edu) and let us know what your research interests are and why you’re interested in getting experience in our lab. We also accept undergraduate mentees through the SOMA summer program and BRI HBCU summer program. It can be helpful to have a look at some of our recent publications to get an idea of the type of research we conduct in the lab and the projects that are ongoing before enquiring about joining the lab.