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Quick Facts

  • Owns an emo record collection that students are welcome to explore
  • Loves surfskating with their family
  • Hosts food-themed events in the Trinity common kitchen
Scholars@Duke Bio

Dr. Gregory Russell Samanez-Larkin

Jack H. Neely Associate Professor of Psychology & 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 (http://mcablab.science) 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!