Ellen M. Walker

Postdoctoral Researcher



Research Interests

I am interested in identifying and interrogating the neural circuitry underlying rodent social play behaviors focusing on hypothalamic and midbrain connectivity in developmental- (juveniles versus adolescents) and sex-dependent manners.

Positions and Education


Postdoctoral researcher in the Neurobiology of Social Behavior Laboratory directed by Dr. Alexa H. Veenema at Michigan State University, MI

2021 – 2023 

Neuroanatomical Consulting — Greater Los Angeles

2020 – 2021

Postdoctoral Research Fellow — in UCLA BRAIN Lab directed by Hongwei Dong, David Geffen School of Medicine

2017 – 2020  

Postdoctoral Research Fellow — in Multisensory Integration Laboratories directed by Barry E. Stein, Benjamin Rowland and Joost Maier, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

2009 2017

PhD in Neuroscience in the Systems Neuroscience Laboratory directed by Arshad M Khan, University of Texas El Paso

2005 – 2009

Laboratory technician in the Laboratory of Neural Repair directed by S. Thomas Carmichael, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

2002 2005

Laboratory technician in the Laboratory of Neurodevelopment directed by Christine Hohmann, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

1997 2001

First BS in Neuroscience in the history of East Carolina University (ECU), BA Psychology; undergraduate researcher in the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory directed by Larry W. Means and under the mentorship of Brian A. McMillen and Edward Liberman, ECU


A. Idris, B.A. Christensen, E.M. Walker, J.X. Maier. Multisensory integration of orally-sourced gustatory and olfactory inputs to the posterior cortex in awake rats (2023). The Journal of Physiology doi.org/10.1113/JP283873

*E.M. Walker, *A.S. Dakos (*co first-author), H. Jiang, B.E. Stein, B.A. Rowland. Interhemispheric visual competition after multisensory reversal of hemianopia (2019). European Journal of Neuroscience doi: 10.1111/ejn.14554

A.M. Khan, E.M. Walker, A.G. Watts. Tracking the coupling of external signals to intracellular programs controlling peptide synthesis and release in hypothalamic neuroendocrine neurons (2017). Chapter 7 Encyclopedia of Stress George Fink editor, Third Edition, Elsevier.

D.F. Hughes, E.M. Walker, P.M. Gignac, A. Martinez, K. Negishi, C.S. Lieb, E. Greenbaum, A.M. Khan. Rescuing perishable neuroanatomical information from a threatened biodiversity hotspot: remote field methods from a threatened biodiversity hotspot: Remote methods for brain tissue preservation validated by cytoarchitectonic analysis, immunohistochemistry, and x-ray microcomputed tomography (2016). PLoS One doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155824

J.A. Sierra-Fonseca, O. Najera, J. Martinez-Jurado, E. M. Walker, A. Varela-Ramirez, S. Das, A.M. Khan, M. Miranda, S. Roychowdhury. Nerve growth factor induces neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells by promoting Gbg-microtubule interaction (2014) BMC Neuroscience 15: 3798.

A.M. Khan, E.M. Walker, N. Dominguez, A.G. Watts. Neural input is critical for arcuate hypothalamic neurons to mount intracellular signaling responses to glycemic challenges in male rats: implications for communication within metabolic sensing networks. (2014) Endocrinology 155: 405-416.

O.V. Torres E.M. Walker, B.S. Beas, and L.E. O’Dell. The rewarding effects of alcohol are enhanced in female versus male rats. (2014) Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 38: 108-115.

C.F. Hohmann, E.M. Walker, C.B. Boylan and M.E. Blue, Neonatal serotonin depletion alters behavioral responses to spatial change and novelty. (2007) Brain Research 1139: 163-177.

Fun outside the lab

When I’m not playing with rats, wielding a pipette or peering through the microscope I enjoy hiking, volunteering and hanging out with my two rescue puppers. My main avocation is specifically dedicated to social justice causes. Some of my most cherished activities include ministering in solidarity to juvenile offenders in the Los Angeles County probation system, organizing dinners and clothing boutiques for the unhoused population of Santa Monica, California and leading mission trips to Tijuana, México to serve unparented children. When I was a graduate student, I served on the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of El Paso as Treasurer and Vice President. Since moving to MSU in January 2024, I am excited for the opportunity to serve the greater MSU/East Lansing community.