Marissa A. Rice

marissaPhD (2020), Cornell University

NSF Graduate Research Fellow
NSF Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow


BS (2011), Virginia Tech



Research Interests:

Cognitive ecology, mating tactics, spatial memory, behavioral ecology, neural basis of learning & memory.


Specific Interests:
I investigate the ecological impacts and neural mechanisms of spatial ability. I’m interested in how spatial ability (i.e., navigation, learning, and memory) affects individual mating tactics, and how neural mechanisms shape spatial ability and inform socio-spatial decision making.

My approach integrates lab and field techniques to answer proximate and ultimate questions concerning the relationship between spatial memory, neuromodulators, mating behavior, and reproductive success. In the lab I can manipulate and assess parameters such as social recognition, spatial memory, affiliation, etc. And in the field I’m able to observe mating tactics and decisions under semi-natural conditions and quantify reproductive success.


Papers (From the lab):

Rice MA, Sanin G, Ophir AG (2019) Social context alters spatial memory in free living male prairie voles. Royal Society Open Science. 6. 190743.

Rice MA, Restrepo LF, Ophir AG. (2018) When to cheat: Modeling dynamics of paternity and promiscuity in socially monogamous prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2018.00141.

Rice MA, Hobbs LE, Wallace KJ, Ophir AG (2017) Cryptic sexual dimorphism in spatial memory and hippocampal oxytocin receptors in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Hormones and Behavior. 95, 94-102.


Undergrads Date Joined
Zach Bates 2019-2020
Molly Smullen 2019-2020
Victoria Schneller 2019-2020
Gavin Wong 2018-2020
Winston Lee 2018-2019
Joanne Li 2018-2019
Isabelle Hashim 2016-2018
Sydney Galindez 2014-2018
Rachel Gardner 2016-2017 (MD Case Western Reserve Univ)
Luis Restrepo 2016-2017 (RA University of Florida)
Alisha Heximer 2016 (MD University of Michigan)
Tire Onabajo 2016
Attila Mendi 2015-2016
David Luglio 2015
Nathalie Agudelo (CienciAmerica) 2015 (MD Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia)
Steven Li 2014-2015
Soo Won Jo 2014-2015 (MD Chungnam National Univ)
Sol Park 2014-2015 (MD Emory Univ)
Haseeb Atcha 2014-2015
Kelly Wallace 2014-2015 (PhD Univ of Texas)
Jie Ong 2013-2015 (Honors, MS Queens Univ)
Nikki Lee 2013-2015 (Honors, PhD UMass/Smith College)
Lauren Hobbs (REU) 2013 (MS UMass)
Gloria Sanin (REU) 2012 (MD Univ of Pittsburgh)
 Josh Garner  2012-2013 (MS Oklahoma State Univ)


Gavin presenting at CUP 2019

Sydney presenting at ABS, 2017

Marissa presenting at ABS, 2017


Trapping voles in Illinois, 2015


Marissa at SfN, 2013

Lauren presenting her REU project, 2013


Marissa at ABS, 2013

Gloria at ABS, 2013

Gloria presenting her REU project, 2012