O'Connor Dean, Wessells, receive 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards

image of Danielle O'Connor Dean and Michael Wessells

Two CNS alumni were among honored with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards in a ceremony on April 24 presided over by UMass Amherst Alumni Association President Michaella Morzuch. Danielle O’Connor Dean ’10 received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, and  Michael Wessells ’73 MA, ’74 PhD received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Danielle O’Connor Dean ’10 Psychology, is a senior data scientist lead at Microsoft Corporation in the Algorithms and Data Science Group within the Cloud and Enterprise Division. She leads an international team of data scientists and engineers working on machine learning solutions, within the field of artificial intelligence, that address a variety of business needs. Dean is also dedicated to mentoring young women. She is an active advisor with Girls Who Code and a board member of Microsoft’s Women@NERD (New England Research & Development) resource group. During her time at UMass Amherst, Dean earned two bachelor’s degrees: the first in psychology with a minor in mathematics and statistics, and the second in organizational behavior through statistical analysis through the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) program.

Michael Wessells ’73 MA, ’74 PhD, Psychology, is a professor of clinical population and family health in the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University. His work emphasizes the resilience of children, families, and communities and impact of distress due to armed conflict, disasters, family separation and deprivation of basic needs. In addition to research and teaching, Wessells has focused on psychosocial and child protection supports for war-affected children primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. Wessells earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology from UMass Amherst, where his supervisor, John Donahoe, nurtured an enduring interest in science, a keen appreciation of environmental determinants of behavior, and a love of teaching.