Gregory Samanez-Larkin

Professor Psychology and Neuroscience


Prof SL (he/they) doesn’t have a favorite color because he can’t decide. His least favorite middle school yearbook comment was: “Don’t change!” He has spent his life not being able to decide and embracing change.

Prof SL is most comfortable in between things. They grew up in a small, rural town, Clio, Michigan, next to their grandparents between a corn field and a pond. They went to school in Flint, Michigan where they spent the week doing homework and the weekend going to punk or hip hop shows in Detroit. 

Prof SL spent freshman year of college at the University of Michigan Flint before transferring as a sophomore to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They spent the first couple of years of college taking pre-business courses while trying to launch a clothing company and promoting electronic music events. Prof SL alternated between wondering if college was worth it and being undecided between so many interesting majors. As a junior Prof SL started doing psychology research and discovered a discipline that was at the intersection of so many of their interests. They learned that being a scientist is like running a small business and decided to pursue it as a career. Prof SL got a relatively late start in research, so they did a 3 year postbacc at Stanford before applying to grad school. During the postbacc, Prof SL went to an emo concert and met Silvia Samanez Larkin (Dr. SL) (she/her) who was an undergrad at Stanford and is now a professor at Duke in Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. 

After college, Dr SL worked as a case manager in community mental health with homeless youth and young adults while Prof SL finished a PhD in psychology at Stanford. Dr and Prof SL moved to Vanderbilt where they had their first child Josephine (Joey), Dr SL got her PhD in clinical psychology, and Prof SL did a postdoc. Prof SL got their first professor job at Yale where Dr SL did her clinical internship and a fellowship in the Yale School of Medicine. The SL’s had their second child, Magnolia (Olí), in New Haven. During a year sabbatical in Miami where Dr SL worked in private practice and Prof SL was a visiting professor of finance in the business school, they both got hired at Duke where they’ve been since 2017. They had their third daughter, Clementine (Emme), in Durham in 2018.

Prof SL is an academic advisor for undeclared students as well as an advisor for majors in neuroscience and psychology. They run a research lab ( that studies motivation, learning, and decision making across the life span blending methods from psychology, neuroscience, consumer finance, marketing, and public health. Prof SL is also the Director of Graduate Studies for the interdisciplinary Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. 

Outside of the classroom and lab, Prof SL likes to explore with their family, slackline, wake surf, do yoga, climb trees, sew, craft, cook together, cheer people on, and learn to do whatever you’re into!