To ensure safe and efficient operation, operators in process industries have to make timely decisions based on time-varying information. A holistic assessment of operators’ performance is, therefore, challenging. Current approaches to operator performance assessment are subjective and ignore operators’ cognitive behavior. In addition, these cannot be used to predict operators’ expected responses during novel situations that may arise during plant operations. The present study seeks to develop a human digital twin (HDT) that can simulate a control room operator’s behavior, even during various abnormal situations. The HDT has been developed using the ACT-R (Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational) cognitive architecture. It mimics a human operator as they monitor the process and intervene during abnormal situations. We conducted 426 trials to test the HDT’s ability to handle disturbance rejection tasks. In these simulations, we varied the reward and penalty parameters to provide feedback to the HDT. We validated the HDT using the eye gaze behavior of 10 human subjects who completed 110 similar disturbance rejection tasks as that of the HDT. The results indicate that the HDT exhibits similar gaze behaviors as the human subjects, even when dealing with abnormal situations. These indicate that the HDT’s cognitive capabilities are comparable to those of human operators. As possible applications, the proposed HDT can be used to generate a large database of human behavior during abnormalities which can then be used to spot and rectify flaws in novice operator’s mental models. Additionally, the HDT can also enhance operators’ decision-making during real-time operation. Copyright © 2023 Balaji, Shahab, Srinivasan and Srinivasan.