Dr. Rice was born and raised in Spartanburg, S.C. He graduated from Wofford College with a B.S. in psychology. While at Wofford, he interned for a semester at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Long Island, N.Y. After graduating, Dr. Rice accepted a postion in the medical department at BNL and later pursued a M.A. in biopsychology at Stony Brook University.

While working at BNL, Dr. Rice completed his Ph.D. in biopyschology from Stony Brook University where he studied the brain's endogenous cannabinoid system and its potential role in mediating, or modulating, the rewarding properties of various classes of abusive drugs. He specifically used a CB1 Knockout mouse model (mice whose cannabinoid receptor has been genetically "removed") to help understand its role in addiction.

At Furman, Dr. Rice continues to employ a battery of behavioral assays and neural imaging techniques to better understand drug addiction and the role of various receptors in this process. He is currently working on three projects:

  • Project one is an attempt to characterize the relationship, if any, between acute or chronic ethanol intake on brain glucose utilization and the brain's endogenous cannabinoid system. This is important for further education of ethanol's effects on the brain.
  • Project two is an evaluation of the appetitive nature of toluene, the reinforcing property in most abuse inhalants (i.e. glue). "Huffing," a term used for inhalant abuse of various compounds containing toluene, is on the rise amongst adolescents. This project is important for identifying toluene as a gateway drug, in addition to characterizing its effects on the brain.
  • Project three explores the brain's D3 receptor's involvement in natural rewards like novelty. This may have implications for identifying the role of the D3 receptor as a major player in our brain's reward circuits.

Dr. Rice has been invited to speak at international conference to explain his findings linking binge drinking and other addictive behaviors to the brain's dopamine D3 receptor.

He has also won the Alester G. Furman, Jr., and Janie Earl Furman Meritorious Advising Award.​

Name Title Description


Drugs, Sex and Rocky Road

What are the motivating factors for eating, sex, and recreational drug use? Why do we persist in the face of difficulties? Why do some of us use and abuse drugs, sex, and food while others seem unaffected? Just as importantly, what are the prevailing attitudes of society toward individuals who struggle with drugs, sex, and food? Modern psychology, using the scientific method, has provided a wealth of information about these and other motivational questions. Consideration of how our biology, learning and cognition, affect and direct these behavior. Motivational concepts and theories will be applied to our understanding of drugs, sex, and rocky road.


Current Topics in Neuroscience

Year long capstone course for neuroscience majors that will provide students with knowledge of current research practice and implications. Discussions of seminal or innovative research papers in a seminar format, and of individual research experiences in the context of progress in the field as a whole.


Techniques in Neuroscience

Preparation for independent research. Topics such as ethics, conducting advanced literature searches, handling and injecting rodents, mixing drugs, how to make scientific presentations, writing for publication, and advanced statistics are covered. Students complete a literature review or research proposal and oral presentation.


General Psychology

Comprehensive introduction to psychology as a behavioral science through a survey of historical, empirical, and theoretical perspectives of psychological research. Topics include: biological bases of behavior, development, learning, personality, cognition, perception, motivation, behavior disorders, and social psychology. Students must either participate in research projects or write summaries of published research articles.


Introduction to Biopsychology

Study of the biological bases of behavior. Appropriate for all majors, particularly those with potential interest in neuroscience or neuropsychology. Fundamentals of brain structure (gross and fine anatomy) and function (neurophysiology and chemical transmission). Overview of sensory systems from peripheral to central processing, including perception. Study of motor pathways and diseases of movement. Introduction to human neuropsychology, motivation, mood, memory and cognition. Lab projects focus on neuroanatomy and sensory systems.



An introduction to the mechanisms of drug action, effects, use and abuse. General topics include principles of pharmacology, neural substrates underlying drug addiction, and the therapeutic use of drugs for mental function.


Brain Imaging

In-depth look into to the variety of medical brain imaging techniques that are used to address scientific questions in both the clinical and pre-clinical settings. Areas of focus will include: autoradiography, positron emission tomography (PET), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).


Brain Imaging

In-depth look into to the variety of medical brain imaging techniques that are used to address scientific questions in both the clinical and pre-clinical settings. Areas of focus will include: autoradiography, positron emission tomography (PET), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).


Summer Undergraduate Research

My primary program of research investigates the underlying brain mechanism(s) involved in the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse. Our lab uses several behavioral and histological techniques to examine the link between the brain and addictive behavior. To that end, we employ conditioned place, preference, i.v. self-administration, two bottle choice, drinking-in-the-dark, and social interaction assays.

Specifically we're interested in the elucidating the role of the brain's endogenous cannabinoid system and the dopamine D3 receptors in addiction. Additionally, it is not clear if the same effects are present in adolescent brains that are seen in adult brains. Perhaps adolescent drug use alters the brain pathways such that it increases an individual's chances of becoming an adult abuser. Therefore, my lab also focuses on the effects of adolescent drug use and how the brain circuits may be altered in adulthood.

  • The Dopamine D3 Receptor Antagonist SB-277011A Decreases Binge-Like Consumption of Ethanol in Mice. Rice, O.V., Schonhar, C.D., Gaal, J. Gardner, E.L., Ashby, C.R. (submitted, Synapse)
  • The selective D3 receptor antagonist SB-277011A attenuates morphine-triggered reactivation of expression of cocaine-induced conditioned place preference. Rice OV, Heidbreder CA, Gardner EL, Schonhar CD, Ashby CR Jr. Synapse. 2013 Feb 13.
  • The effects of the preferential dopamine D(3) receptor antagonist S33138 on ethanol binge drinking in C57BL/6J mice. Rice OV, Patrick J, Schonhar CD, Ning H, Ashby CR Jr. Synapse. 2012 Nov; 66(11):975-8
  • The acute administration of the selective dopamine D(3) receptor antagonist SB-277011A reverses conditioned place aversion produced by naloxone precipitated withdrawal from acute morphine administration in rats. Rice OV, Gardner EL, Heidbreder CA, Ashby CR Jr. Synapse. 2012 Jan;66(1):85-7.
  • Long-term effects of irradiation with iron-56 particles on the nigrostriatal dopamine system. Rice OV, Grande AV, Dehktyar N, Bruneus M, Robinson JK, Gatley SJ. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2009 Apr;48(2):
Post-Doc Fellow
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University
Wofford College

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