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Darby Proctor, Ph.D. - Florida Tech. Melbourne, FL, US

Darby Proctor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor | School of Psychology | Florida Tech


Dr. Proctor's research focuses on decision-making in nonhuman primates to understand the evolutionary roots of human decision-making biases.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Comparative Psychology

Animal Behavior

Nonhuman Primates

Behavioral Economics




Dr. Darby Proctor's research focuses on decision-making in nonhuman primates in order to understand the evolutionary roots of human decision-making biases.

She was instrumental in setting up a collaboration between Florida Tech and Brevard Zoo and conducts research with their animals, most notably spider monkeys. In addition to this line of research, Dr. Proctor is interested in pedagogy and increasing student involvement in the classroom.

She created roachlab.org to provide hands-on animal experiences for undergraduate students at Florida Tech and beyond.

Before coming to Florida Tech, Dr. Proctor was an National Institutes of Health-funded IRACDA Fellow in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) at Emory University and Yerkes National Primate Research Center. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from Georgia State University, where she worked at the Language Research Center.

Media Assets




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Picture A Scientist Virtual Panel Discussion 2021 98% Chimpanzee and 50% Bananas Spider Monkeys at the Zoo with Dr. Darby Proctor (FIT) A Brief Introduction to Animal Behavior Research at the Brevard Zoo Buggin' Out: Florida Tech Psychologist Using Cockroaches Instead of Lab Rats


Media Appearances (6)

Florida Tech, Brevard Zoo Host Dedication Ceremony for Dr. Mary Helen McCay Research Shed

Space Coast Daily News  


The shed will serve as the working space for Darby Proctor and Catherine Talbot, faculty members from the School of Psychology whose research involves spider monkeys, as well as for storage.

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Women in STEM: Florida Tech Student Gets Experience at Brevard Zoo

News 13  


"Pretty rare for undergraduates to get experience, especially in areas like animal behavior," says Florida Tech’s Dr. Darby Proctor, her professor and mentor.

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Florida Tech Joins Forces with Brevard Zoo to Re-home Endangered Spider Monkey

Florida Tech News  


“The real answer is, we don’t know because we don’t have that backstory,” says assistant professor Darby Proctor, who also works at Brevard Zoo studying spider monkeys. “However, in cases like this, the most frequent scenario is that a poacher goes into the forest, they shoot the mom for bush meat … then, they take the babies to sell into the illegal pet trade.”

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Smuggled spider monkey to fly from Texas to his new home at Brevard Zoo

Florida Today  


"He’s most likely a victim of the exotic pet trade. That's always a really tough situation. He's not with the family that he should have grown up with," said Darby Proctor, a Florida Institute of Technology assistant professor of psychology who researches spider monkeys at the zoo.

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Dr. Proctor’s Roach Research

Flordia Tech News  online


Animal Behavior specialist, Dr. Darby Proctor, made the front cover of Discovery Magazine with her roach research: “Utilizing cockroaches as testing subjects is a new frontier that has a world of potential.

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Gambling monkeys may provide clues to why humans take risks

The Washington Post  


Darby Proctor, a comparative psychologist at the Florida Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study, said it’s “not super surprising” to find that the frontal cortex is involved in the decisions.

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Education (4)

Georgia State University: Ph.D., Psychcology - Cognitive Sciences and Animal Behavior 2012

Georgia State University: M.S., Biological Anthropology 2007

University of Florida: M.S.M., Management 2003

University of Florida: B.A., Biological Anthropology 2002


Selected Articles (6)

Cockroaches to the rescue: A new approach to reintroduce animal labs to the psychology undergraduate curriculum.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology


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Collaboration and open science initiatives in primate research

Primate Cognitive Studies


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Leveraging Embedded Undergraduate Research to Bolster Research Culture: A Multi-Pronged Approach Case Study

Florida Statewide Symposium


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The effect of a nighttime zoo event on spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) behavior

Experimental Results


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Collaborative open science as a way to reproducibility and new insights in primate cognition research

Japanese Psychological Review


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Chimpanzees play the ultimatum game

Psychological and Cognitive Sciences


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Affiliations (8)

  • Brevard Zoo : Research Scientist
  • Save the Chimps : Chimpanzee Wellbeing Advisory Committee
  • American Psychological Association Advisory Panel for PsycLearn : Member
  • Biology Letters : Editorial Board Member
  • Journal of Comparative Psychology : Consulting Editor
  • American Society of Primatologists Research Committee : Grant Reviewer
  • Animal Behavior and Cognition : Editorial Board Member
  • Frontiers in Psychology (Comparative Psychology) : Review Editor

Accomplishments (1)

Kerry Bruce Clark Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching (professional)


Event Appearances (5)

Roach lab: Using cockroaches to increase learning outcomes in undergraduate psychology

Conference for Academic Research in Education  Las Vegas, Nevada

Leveraging embedded undergraduate research to bolster research culture: A multi-pronged approach case study

Best Practices in Undergraduate Research, Florida Statewide Symposium  Orlando, Florida

Risk-Taking as part of reputation formation among chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

International Primatological Society Congress XXVII  Nairobi

When cultures collide: Cultural transmission with alternating traditions in a newly formed group of captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

International Primatological Society Congress XXVI  Chicago, Illinois

Audience effects chimpanzee decision-making in the primate gambling task

International Conference on Comparative Cognition  Melbourne, Florida