UMass Psychology

Amy Ryan

Umass Psychology People

Amy M. Ryan

Position(s): Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Student
Division: Div 1 NSB
Building/Room: T 512
Email: amyr AT cns DOT umass DOT edu
My Linked-In Page


Primate social behavior and cognition; environmental effects on behavior and cognition; hormonal effects on social behavior; applied animal behavior, nutrition, and physiology; Conservation Biology



Ph.D., Neuroscience and Behavior: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, expected May 2016

M.A., Psychology with Animal Behavior and Conservation concentration: Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY, 2011

B.S., Biology, Cum Laude: The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, 2007


Master’s Thesis: The effects of group compositional changes on the social relationships of captive hamadryas baboons

Supervised by:             Dr. Mark Hauber, Hunter College

            Observed a group of hamadryas baboons at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, NY, while the group underwent compositional changes during the gradual introduction of two new females. Results suggest that relationships are affected by compositional changes even when original group members are removed not just when new members are added.



Recipient of University of Massachusetts Graduate Dissertation Research Grant, 2014

Certificate in the Advanced Psychology of Animal Behavior and Conservation, awarded by the New York State Education Department, 2010 

Recipient of Hunter College Ruth Weintraub Scholarship, 2008



Ryan, A.M. and S.R. Partan. Urban Wildlife Behavior. Accepted. In Urban Wildlife Science: Theory and Practice. R. McCleery, C. Moorman, and N. Peterson, editors. Springer publishing.

Novak, M.A., Hamel, A.F., Coleman, K., Lutz, C.K., Worlein, J., Menard, M., Ryan, A., Rosenberg, K., & J.S. Meyer. Accepted. Hair loss and Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis activity in captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta): A cautionary tale. Laboratory Animal Science, 1-14.

Ryan, A.M., Chapman, C.A., & J.M. Rothman. 2012. How do differences in species and part consumption affect diet nutrient concentrations? A test with red colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda. African Journal of Ecology, 51, 1-10.



Ryan, A.M., Menard, M.T., Coleman, K., Lutz, C.K., Worlein, J.M., & M.A. Novak. 2013. Visual assessment of alopecia and hair loss patterns in laboratory-housed rhesus macaques using open source Image J software [Abstract]. American Journal of Primatology, 75 (S1), 60.

Ryan, A., Chapman, C.A., & J.M. Rothman. 2011. How do differences in dietary composition affect diet nutrient concentrations? A test with colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda [Abstract]. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, S52, 260.


Ryan, A.M., Menard, M.T., Coleman, K., Lutz, C.K., Worlein, J.M., & M.A. Novak. 2013. Visual assessment of alopecia and hair loss patterns in laboratory-housed rhesus macaques using open source Image J software. American Society of Primatologists Annual Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Ryan, A.M. & M.E. Hauber. 2011. Impacts of changing group composition on the social relationships of captive hamadryas baboons. Association of Zoos and Aquariums Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Ryan, A., Chapman, C.A., & J.M. Rothman. 2011. How do differences in dietary composition affect diet nutrient concentrations? A test with colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda. American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN.



Independent Study (2011-2012): The role of the environment in the evolution of multi-modal animal communication: Multi-modal shifts in urban noise

Supervised by:             Dr. Sarah Partan, Hampshire College

            Implemented a robotic playback study, trained teams of students, and led them in collection of field data on squirrel multimodal communication. Eastern grey squirrels were presented with a robotic model that generated naturalistic audio and visual signals. The playbacks took place in urban and rural areas and it will be analyzed whether squirrels in the differing sites respond differently to the squirrel robotic model.

Independent Study (2010): Are folivores limited by nitrogen in their diet? An analysis for black-and-white colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza) in Kibale National Park, Uganda

Supervised by:             Dr. Jessica Rothman, Hunter College

Observed feeding behavior of colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and collected plants consumed in addition to all daily fecal and urine output. Sought to analyze the nitrogen content of the plant species consumed along with the nitrogen present in output to determine how colobines balance their nitrogen levels.



 Teaching Assistant, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA                          2011-present    Instructed Lab or Discussion Sections:

Animal Behavior                                                                                                     Spring 2013, 2014

Interdisciplinary Directions in Psychology                                                                   Fall 2013

Introduction to Biology                                                                                            Fall 2012

Methods of Inquiry in Psychology                                                                         Fall 2011-Spring 2012

Teaching Assistant, Hunter College, New York, NY                                                                   Jan 2010- June 2010

  • Assisted the professor in the instruction of an undergraduate Experimental Psychology class 
  • Created and presented lessons related to research methods in class and laboratory sessions
  • Evaluated student lab reports, presentations, and exams

Graduate Assistant, Hunter College, New York, NY                                                                    Aug 2009-Feb 2010

  • Assisted the coordinator of the Animal Behavior and Conservation program with administrative duties related to overseeing the ABC program
  • Edited grant proposals for National Science Foundation funding for content, clarity, and grammar 
  • Guided prospective students in person and email about their fit with the ABC program



Animal Behavior Professional Intern, The Walt Disney Co., Orlando, FL                         Jan 2008 – June 2008

  • Assisted in the design and implementation of on-site animal behavior studies 
  • Conducted daily behavioral observations on western lowland gorillas and tigers
  • Organized and analyzed animal behavior and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund data
  • Interacted formally and informally with visitors to convey conservation messages about wildlife

Wild Animal Keeper, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY                                       May 2007 – July 2007

  • Maintained animal facilities and prepared diets for zoo’s large-mammal collection 
  • Designed and applied behavioral enrichment for hoof stock, carnivores, and elephants 
  • Assisted senior keepers with animal training protocols



Outreach Committee Co-Chair, Graduate Women in Stem                                                          2013-present

  • Coordinate with partner organizations such as Massachusetts Academy of Sciences (MAS) and Girls, Inc. of Holyoke, MA to develop outreach opportunities and programs for female-identified graduate students in STEM fields.

Graduate Student Representative,

Neuroscience and Behavior Program Steering Committee                                                       2013-present

  • Attend Steering Committee meetings in which in addition to other Steering committee responsibilities, I provide the graduate student perspective, voice graduate student concerns, and in turn, provide information to Program’s graduate students about decisions made in Steering Committee meetings.

Co-Chair, Neuroscience and Behavior Spirited Discussions                                                          2012-present

  • Coordinate monthly meetings for Spirited Discussions. Spirited Discussions was started in 2009 by a fellow graduate student, and is a monthly meeting for graduate students studying neuroscience to discuss hot topics ranging from novel methods and applications to ethics.



Ethology, Reviewer

Animal Behavior Society, Student Member

American Society of Primatologists, Student Member

Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Student Member



  • Computer Skills: SPSS, Microsoft Office, Gaining knowledge in R
  • Language Skills: Knowledgeable in Italian


Academic and professional references available upon request. 

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