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Staff Profile


Career Summary


I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, based at the Ourimbah campus. I am an Experimental Psychologist, interested in the evolution of Visual, Spatial and Social abilities. Understanding how these various behavioural mechanisms evolved involves integrating data derived from studies in humans and non-humans and from research examining the neural, cognitive and social determinants of the abilities.


  • PhD, University of Sydney, 14/05/1993
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Sydney, 14/03/1989


Research keywords

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Cognition
  • Communication
  • Evolution
  • Face processing
  • Perception

Research expertise

My research has spanned a broad spectrum of experimental psychology, united by a focus on why particular mechanisms work the way they do, and how evolution may have produced them. This has involved comparing psychological mechanisms across species that have faced different evolutionary selection pressures, as well as taking a functional approach to human psychology - asking what particular psychological mechanisms are actually for. I initially applied this perspective to questions in visual perception, the area of my postgraduate training, but have since investigated spatial memory, learning without awareness, observational learning, face and object recognition and social cognition. For more information please see my lab webpage ( )


  • English

Fields of Research

170101Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)60
170299Cognitive Science Not Elsewhere Classified25
060399Evolutionary Biology Not Elsewhere Classified15


I have a number of collaborators across a range of Australian Universities (including an ARC grant with chief investigators at Macquarie University, Wollongong University and ANU) and in the UK, Hong Kong, Norway, etc.


Administrative expertise

I have served on undergraduate Teaching and Learning committees at Macquarie University and the University of Wollongong, was the Departmental PR coordinator in Biology and Brain Behaviour and Evolution at Macquarie, the Deputy Chair of the Macquarie University Animal Ethics Committee, and Honours Coordinator for the new Honours program in Brain Behaviour and Evolution at Macquarie. I am currently on the School of Psychology Teaching and Learning Committee, School Executive Committee, School Research Committee, and am the Program Co-convener for the Ourimbah-based BPsych students.


Teaching keywords

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Cognition
  • Neuroscience
  • Perception

Teaching expertise

I have taught in a wide range of areas in Experimental Psychology, including Perception, Cognition, Learning, Motivation and Emotion, Biological Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Animal Behaviour, and Research Methods, and had a brief stint (in 2009) in a Biology Department, teaching into courses on Human Physiology, Vertebrate Evolution and the Biology of Sex.


Grants and Funding


Number of grants2
Total funding$191,784

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

2012 (1 grants)

Indian mynah (Acridotheres tristis) population expansion in the Hunter region: Underlying mechanisms and management solutions$6,784
Funding Body: Lake Macquarie City Council

Project Team
Doctor Darren Burke, Miss Kathryn Haythorpe
Lake Macquarie Environmental Research GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2009 (1 grants)

The human face as an evolved signalling system$185,000
Funding Body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Project Team
Doctor Darren Burke, Dr Romina Palermo, Dr Mark Williams, Dr Simone Favelle
Discovery ProjectsChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions9
Total current UoN PhD EFTSL4.15

For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, the institution name is listed below the program name.

Current Supervision

ProgramSupervisor TypeResearch Title
20142018PhD (Psychology - Science)Principal SupervisorThe Role of Hormones in the Prevalence of Female Adolescent Unipolar Depression
20142018PhD (Psychology - Science)Principal SupervisorSpatial Cognition in Australian Honeyeaters
20142016PhD (Psychology - Science)Co-SupervisorObjective Measures Within Consumer Neuroscience
20132017PhD (Psychology - Science)Principal SupervisorMaking Social Judgements from the Face: The Role of Physiological Arousal and Visual Context
20132018PhD (Psychology - Science)Principal SupervisorThe Impact of Anxiety on Social Abilities
20122016PhD (Psychology - Science)Principal SupervisorThe Role of Gonadal Hormones on Human Mate Preferences and Mating Strategies
20122015PhD (Clinical Psychology)Co-SupervisorHere's Looking at You, Kid: Face Processing, Emotional Availability and Reflective Functioning in Mothers with Postnatal Depression
20112015PhD (Exercise & Sport Science)Co-SupervisorFactors Influencing the Physiological and Perceptual-Cognitive Demands of Australian Football Field Umpires
20112015PhD (Psychology - Science)Co-SupervisorPerceptual Mechanisms Underlying the Embodimen of Emotion

Dr Darren Burke

Work Phone(02) 4348 4158
Fax(02) 4348 4145
PositionSenior Lecturer
School of Psychology
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Focus AreaPsychology
Science Offices,
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah NSW 2258