After graduating from Haverford College, Jesse enrolled in the MD/PhD program at Columbia University. There, he received his PhD in neuroscience for work on microcircuits of the cerebral cortex. After his PhD, he returned to the clinic and became fascinated by basal ganglia diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's and dystonia. He was originally intending on doing a residency in neurology, but was diverted when he learned that songbirds have a basal ganglia circuit that plays a role in song learning. He joined Michale Fee's lab at MIT to train in songbird neurophysiology. As a new Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell, he is building a neurophysiology lab to study basal ganglia function in freely moving animals, including songbirds, engaged in experimentally controlled trial and error learning.