Marissa grew up in Virginia Beach and spent most of her girl years in Girl Scouting, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award for an environmental project she created. She also served in many leadership capacities here at GSCCC as a girl member, including representing GSCCC as a delegate to one of the National Conventions! As an alum, she stayed connected by helping at Cracks, Crevices and Crawlways—a program event to inspire girls to try caving.
A proud Girl Scout alum (with a great sense of humor), Marissa completed her PhD in Behavioral and Evolutionary Neuroscience at Cornell University in 2020. She was classically trained as an ecologist while receiving her Bachelors of Science at Virginia Tech, which involved studying animal behavior in the wild. She then transitioned to study behavioral neuroscience incorporating the brain’s hormones and neuromodulators to understand decision making. Now as a postdoc she brings that combined skillset into the study of human behavior in psychology and human development. Her research uses an integrative approach that encompasses behavioral ecology, neuroscience, cognition, and environmental psychology. She is interested in how physical space use and social affordances influence individual behavior and decision making. Her strength is in bringing concepts and frameworks from biology into the forefront of how we discuss, conceptualize, and solve problems regarding human behavior and motivation. She is also excited to translate her findings with animal research (voles) into meaningful human applications.
Outside of the lab you can find Marissa doing stand-up comedy, playing online co-op video games with friends, Olympic weightlifting, or watching true crime documentaries.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Virginia Chapter held its annual conference on March 18, 2023, where Dr. Rice presented “Inspiring and Retaining Young Women in STEM Fields.” She shared evidence-based behavior science techniques as well as insights from her own journey in the sciences. “Young women and girls continue to be vastly under-represented in STEM fields. However, research has shown that girls are more than capable of succeeding in STEM domains.”
Girl Scout Cadette Troop 1087 from Williamsburg was also in attendance to perform the opening flag ceremony!
When girls participate in focused STEM programs, they are more interested in STEM and careers in tech. Girl Scouts is, as it always has been, the organization best positioned to help girls develop important STEM competencies they need to become the next generation of female leaders—and to change the world in big and small ways—just like Dr. Rice!
Fondly remembered “First Class” Girl Scout alum and longtime GSCCC staff member.
Classical announcer and content producer for WHRO FM loved being a Girl Scout.