Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Biographical Sketches

Executive Office Staff

Mary Ellen O’Connell is the executive director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (National Academies). She previously served as DBASSE deputy executive director, with primary responsibility for internal management and operational oversight. O’Connell has also served as the acting director of the DBASSE Board on Environmental Change and Society, where she developed and oversaw projects on the social cost of carbon and characterizing risk in the context of climate change. As deputy director of the DBASSE Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences and Board on Human-Systems Integration, she oversaw projects ranging from pilot fatigue to human factors in home health care to intelligence analysis. O’Connell began her tenure at the National Academies as a senior program officer primarily with the Board on Children, Youth and Families, where she led studies on topics such as prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders; ethical considerations for research; strategies for reducing underage drinking; measuring children’s health; and international education programs. Before joining the National Academies, O’Connell developed a variety of policy and program initiatives for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, focused primarily on the evaluation and coordination of homelessness programs, and developing state-level indicator systems. At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she co-led an initiative to develop homeless management information systems and a national conference focused on research to practice. As the Director of Field Services for the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare, she managed statewide homeless services, including developing a program to provide substance abuse services for homeless women and their children. Early in her career, she was selected as an Atlantic Fellow in Public Policy, based at York University in the United Kingdom. O’Connell received a B.A. in psychology with distinction from Cornell University and a Master in the Management of Human Services from the Heller Graduate School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Monica Feit joined DBASSE as the Deputy Executive Director in 2017. Previously, Monica was at the Department of Health and Human Services where she worked for over four years. Most recently, she served as the policy director at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration where she was responsible for providing leadership on cross-cutting policy issues. She also planned and oversaw policy research in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Prior to joining HHS, Monica served as a senior program officer at the National Academies where she directed studies on topics including the integration of primary care and public health, the health of LGBT populations, and the science of child abuse and neglect. In 2009, she was named an American Public Health Association Government Fellow and worked as a staffer on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee in the office of Senator Dodd during the development of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to her domestic health policy experience, Monica has a wealth of experience working on public health issues in Europe and Africa. She received a B.A. in government from Smith College, a Master's in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from London South Bank University.

Program Unit Staff

Natacha Blain, JD, PhD, serves as the Director of the Board on Children, Youth and Families (BCYF) and the Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She has over 20 years of experience working with policymakers and senior legislative officials on a variety of social justice issues and campaigns including serving as a Supreme Court Fellow, Chief Counsel to Senator Dick Durbin on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Lead Strategic Advisor for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign. Prior to joining the National Academies, Dr. Blain served as Associate Director/Acting Executive Director of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families (GCYF). There she played a critical role in helping convene and engage diverse constituencies, fostering leadership, collaboration and innovation-sharing through a network of funders committed to the enduring well-being of children, youth and families. Dr. Blain earned her Master of Science and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Allegheny University of Health Sciences and MCP – Hahnemann University (now Drexel University) respectively, and her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Villanova School of Law.

Brian Harris-Kojetin is the CNSTAT director and study director for the Panel on Improving Federal Statistics for Policy and Social Science Research Using Multiple Data Sources and State-Of-The-Art Estimation Methods. He comes from OMB where he served as senior statistician in the Statistical and Science Policy Office. He chaired the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology and was the lead at OMB on issues related to standards for statistical surveys, survey nonresponse, survey respondent incentives, and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA). He also served as the desk officer for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the demographic programs of the U.S. Census Bureau. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and an adjunct faculty member at the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. Prior to joining OMB in 2001, he was the senior project leader of Research Standards and Practices at the Arbitron Company. He also previously served as a research psychologist in the Office of Survey Methods Research in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He has a B.A. in psychology and religious studies from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Malay K. Majmundar, a senior program officer on the Committee on National Statistics, directs the Committee on Population (CPOP). He is currently overseeing projects on mid-life mortality and socioeconomic disparities, forced migration and refugee movements, sexual and gender minorities, and the workplace and aging. He is also developing a future research portfolio for CPOP. While at the National Academies, he has worked on studies on demography, criminal justice, immigration enforcement and statistics, and the federal budget. He has a B.A. in political science from Duke University, a J.D. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Heidi Schweingruber is the Director of the Board on Science Education at the National Research Council (NRC). In this role she oversees many of the projects in the BOSE portfolio. She also collaborates with the director and board to develop new projects. She co-directed the study that resulted in the report A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) which is the first step in revising national standards for K-12 science education. She served as study director for a review of NASA’s pre-college education programs completed in 2008 and co-directed the study that produced the 2007 report Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. She served as an editor on the NRC report Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths to Excellence and Equity (2009). She co- authored two award-winning books for practitioners that translate findings of NRC reports for a broader audience: Ready, Set, Science! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms (2008) and Surrounded by Science (2010). Prior to joining the NRC, Heidi worked as a senior research associate at the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education where she administered the preschool curriculum evaluation program and a grant program in mathematics education. Previously, she was the director of research for the Rice University School Mathematics Project an outreach program in K-12 mathematics education, and taught in the psychology and education departments at Rice University. Heidi holds a Ph.D. in psychology (developmental) and anthropology, and a certificate in culture and cognition from the University of Michigan.

Barbara A. Wanchisen is the Director of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS). She is a long-standing member of the Psychonomic Society, the Association for Behavior Analysis, and the American Psychological Association. In January 2004, she became a Fellow of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) of the American Psychological Association. She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Behavior Analyst while also serving as a guest reviewer of a number of other journals. From November 2001 until April 2008, Wanchisen was the executive director of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, & Cognitive Sciences in Washington, DC. In 2004, she was instrumental in the founding of the Federation's Foundation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a non-profit organization that assumed the educational mission of the Federation. Previously, Wanchisen was Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the college-wide Honors Program at Baldwin-Wallace University, near Cleveland, Ohio. Barbara Wanchisen received a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, an M.A. in English from Villanova University, and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Temple University.

Toby Warden is the director for the Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS) and the Board on Human-Systems Integration (BOHSI). Dr. Warden is returning to the Academies after a 2-year period as Director of Scientific Administration for the Department of Neurological Sciences and Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, spearheading strategic planning efforts to foster research collaboration. At the Academies previously, she began in 2009 as a study director on climate change and weather related activities with the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. She joined BOHSI in 2011 as a study director, and later associate board director, working on a number of activities related to worker safety, safety culture, systems design and organizational performance. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Ecology with an emphasis on Environmental Analysis and Design from the University of California, Irvine. A member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society she also holds a certificate in Business Fundamentals from HBX/Harvard Business School.

Home BOHSI Home BOSE Home BECS Home BCYF Home TAC Home Home BOTA Home CPOP Home CNSTAT Home CLAJ Home BBCSS Home Home About BOSE BOSE Mission BOSE Members BOSE Staff Our Sponsors Visiting our Buildings About BBCSS BBCSS History BBCSS Members BBCSS Staff Our Sponsors About CPOP CPOP Mission CPOP Members CPOP Staff About CNSTAT CNSTAT Members CNSTAT Staff CNSTAT Mission Other Sites of Interest TEstTAc2 About CLAJ CLAJ Mission CLAJ Members CLAJ Staff About BECS BECS Mission/History BECS Brochure BECS Members BECS Staff About BCYF BCYF History BCYF Graphic Illustration BCYF Members BCYF Staff About BOHSI BOHSI History BOHSI Members BOHSI Staff Our Sponsors Forum Home About Us Mission and Goals History Members Sponsors About BOTA BOTA Mission BOTA Members Visiting Our Buildings
left imagetext captioncenter image