Our Team

James M. Otis, Ph.D.

James M. Otis 

Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience
173 Ashley Ave
CRI 404B
Charleston, SC 29425

Degree (s): B.A. in Psychology from University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2009. M.S. in Neuroscience from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2011. Ph.D. in Neuroscience from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014.

Originally from Wisconsin, Jim completed his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from UW-Stout and UW-Milwaukee from 2006-2014, followed by his postdoctoral work at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2014-2018.  Throughout this training, he studied the cellular (graduate school) and neural circuit (postdoc) mechanisms that allow environmental stimuli to engage reward and drug-seeking behaviors.  Jim joined the Department of Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in September 2018.  When not in the lab, he enjoys playing sports and chess, visiting friends and family, and hanging out with his pup, Rosie.

Jim’s goal in the lab is to provide a fun, friendly, and supportive work environment that allows scientists from all backgrounds to pursue their goals and interests, and in doing so further our understanding of the brain and neuropsychiatric illnesses.

Elizabeth Doncheck, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Doncheck 

Post Doctoral Scholar
173 Ashley Ave
CRI 404B
Charleston, SC 29425
843-876-1868

Degree (s): B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Biology from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2010 and 2012. Ph.D. in Biological Sciences-Neuroscience track from Marquette University in 2019.

Beth received her bachelor degrees from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2012, and her doctoral degree at Marquette University in 2019.  While living in the Milwaukee area, Beth worked in outstanding labs that focus on the neurobiology of drug addiction, including the labs of Drs. Devin Mueller, Cecilia Hillard, John Mantsch, and others.  Her work focuses on the influence of circulating hormones and sex differences on addiction behavior, and in the Otis lab she hopes to extend her work to understanding how these hormones function at the level of neural circuits to influence behaviors such as drug seeking.

Outside of lab, Beth enjoys chilling with her pup Vebo, traveling, and hanging with her friends.

Kelsey Vollmer

Kelsey Vollmer 

Graduate Student
173 Ashley Ave
CRI 404B
Charleston, SC 29425
843-876-1868

Degree(s): B.S. in Biology with a minor in Neuroscience from College of Charleston in 2016.

Kelsey is a graduate student interested in the mechanisms and neurobiology behind addiction. She completed her bachelor's degree at the College of Charleston and worked as a research technician at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in the Neuroscience Department. She is currently pursuing a neuroscience PhD in the Otis lab.

Outside of lab, Kelsey enjoys gardening, knitting, and spending time with her husband and two greyhounds.

Roger Ian Grant

Roger Ian Grant 

Graduate Student
173 Ashley Ave
CRI 404B
Charleston, SC 29425
843-876-1868

Degree(s): B.S. in Biology with a minor in Neuroscience from College of Charleston in 2015.

Ian grew up in Massachusetts but is in his 8th year as a South Carolina resident. He attended the College of Charleston and graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a Neuroscience minor in 2015. Following graduation, he worked in a neurovascular imaging lab at MUSC, studying the diversity of pericytes within the murine brain. He is currently a PhD student at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he plans to use multiphoton imaging to dissect the neural circuits underlying addiction.

Outside of lab, Ian enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and going to the beach.

Elizaveta Romanova

Elizaveta Romanova

Undergraduate Research Assistant
173 Ashley Ave
CRI 404B
Charleston, SC 29425
843-876-1868

Liza is an undergraduate student at the College of Charleston, studying biochemistry with a minor in neuroscience. Her postgraduate plans include attending medical school and becoming a cosmetic surgeon.

Outside of the lab, Liza is a coxswain for the College of Charleston crew team and enjoys volunteering with several different organizations on campus.

Kion Winston

Kion Winston 

CRI 404B
Charleston, SC 29425
843-876-1868

Kion is an undergraduate student attending Charleston Southern University, studying biology with a minor in psychology. With an interest in the brain and behavior he plans to attend medical school as to pursue a career in neuroscience and psychiatry. Besides his position in the Otis Lab, Kion participates In Dr. Roberts lab at his home university where he study’s cancer biology, and Dr. Song’s lab where he studies plant biology.

Outside the lab, Kion enjoys spending time with his loved ones and his cat Persephone.