Chances are, if you visit the Brevard Zoo you might spot a Florida Tech student in their natural habitat. Students are often found near the spider monkey exhibit observing behaviors or playing games with our primate cousins. You can’t miss their red shirts with RESEARCH stated big and bold on the back. If you do spot a student, feel free to ask them what they are up to, they’ll happily share their research with you.
This otherwise unique sighting of students doing coursework at a local zoo isn’t so rare at Florida Tech. Part of assistant psychology professor Darby Proctor’s animal behavior program is to immerse students in hands-on field research. Through a symbiotic partnership with the Brevard Zoo, Dr. Proctor and her students are able to get unique access to exotic animals, address a research hypotheses and test them out in a relatively short period of time.
For example, zoo employees noticed their young jaguar seemed a bit stressed. Using behavior observation research techniques learning in class, the students developed educated theories on how to make the jaguar more at ease in her habitat. The zoologists deployed the modifications and found that the changes did in fact help reduce the young jaguar’s anxiety.
Unlike traditional research, where scientific papers are written and then three years later the findings might be implemented, the hypothesis and solution timeline moves very quickly for animal behavior students in Florida Tech’s psychology program. Students are able to make observations, hypothesis a solution and test their hypothesis in the field and eventually implement their solution. The experience is instant gratification for research students and a primer to what’s to come in their careers.
Go more in depth on the animal behavior research Florid Tech students are working on.