Deborah A. Gagnon

Professor of Psychology and Health Sciences
"The Wells classroom is a supportive, respectful and nurturing space where faculty and students learn together. I am constantly impressed by the engagement Wells students have with their education and with the world around them, and I think the students are equally impressed by how much the faculty truly care about both their academic and personal growth and development. At Wells, there are two things that are central to all we do: relationship and social justice. Integrity, accountability and 'The Good Mind' are guaranteed through a code of honor that is embraced by every member of the community; Wells grads take pride in carrying this honor code with them the rest of their lives. So you see, Wells provides not 'just' an education, but also the tools and values to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. To me, Wells is proof of what is possible in academia, and its alums are proof of the difference that educated and well-lived lives can make in the world."
Zabriskie 308

Professor Gagnon enjoys exposing interconnections across the disciplines in her classes. She is as likely to be talking about art, dance, theater or literature in her cognitive- or bio-based classes as she is to be talking about neurotransmitters or neural structures in her Psychology of Art class. Her primary area of scholarship in psychology focuses on language—how we perceive, produce, and use it—but her recent interests have migrated to strengths-based psychology, creative self-expression, the "technology exposure effect," the history of psychology, and health science programs such as rural health and end-of-life care.

She especially enjoys working on research projects with others—students and colleagues alike. Student evaluations consistently describe Professor Gagnon as a compassionate teacher and, indeed, one of her primary aims in the classroom is to create a humane, compassionate and nurturing environment in which all feel supported and encouraged to participate. Professor Gagnon believes that learning is inter-relational and that, with a classroom environment of equality and mutual respect, we model the world we would like to see and create a space where everyone feels safe to challenge themselves, expand their own "envelope," gain new perspectives and understanding, and grow.


1986 B.A. University at Buffalo, Psychology
1989 M.A. University at Buffalo, Psychology
1993 Ph.D. University at Buffalo, Cognitive Psychology
1993-1996 NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Albert Einstein Medical Center (Philadelphia), Neuropsychology Research Institute, Cognitive Neuropsychology

Select Publications

Weisse, C.E., & Gagnon, D.A. (2019, March). "Special homes for the dying: Student opportunities for direct patient care."  Northeastern Association of Advisors in the Health Professions, Boston, Mass.

Gagnon, D.A. (2018). "A ‘Troublesome Effort’: Focused attention and deep processing in the digital age of teaching and learning." In R. J. Harnish, K. R. Bridges, D. N. Sattler, M. L. Signorella, & M. Munson (Eds.). The Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.  Retrieved at 

Gagnon, D.A., & Blake-Hodek, K. (2016, June). Rural Health Immersion @ Wells College. Rural Health Program and Immersion Models Special Session at the Biannual National Meeting of the National Association of Academic Advisors for the Health Professions, Minneapolis, Minn.

Gagnon, D.A. (2016).  "Margaret Floy Washburn’s Facebook friends: Telling the stories of psychology’s women and minority pioneers." In W. Altmann, L. Stein, & J. E. Westfall (Eds.), Essays from e-xcellence in teaching, 15, 45-48.  Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.  Retrievable at:

Schwartz, M.F., Wilshire, C., Gagnon, D.A. & Polansky, M. (2016). "Origins of nonword phonological errors in aphasic picture naming." In M. Behrmann & K. Patterson (Eds.), Words and Things: Cognitive Neuropsychological Studies in Tribute to Eleanor M. Saffran.  New York: Routledge.

Gagnon, D.A., Moore, G.M., & Shanmuganathan, G.D.  (2014). "Factors mediating between employee strategy awareness and commitment to organizational success." Journal of Management and Sustainability, 4 (4), 24-31.

Courses Taught

Cognitive Psychology
Cognition & Culture
Biological Bases of Behavior
Sensation & Perception
Positive Psychology
Psychology of Art
Foundations & Methods in Psychology
Quantitative Methods
Senior Seminar in Psychology
Introduction to Health Sciences
Senior Seminar in Health Sciences

PROGRAM Coordinator

Cognitive and Brain Science
Health and Medical Ethics

Professional Activity

Associate Editor, Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Associate Editor, Public Health
Associate Editor, Social Behavior Research and Practice


Doug Bernstein Award, National Institute for the Teaching of Psychology
Excellence in Academic Advising, Wells College

Our mission is for every student to think critically, reason wisely and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives. On our beautiful lakeside campus, students gain the knowledge, skills and experience to create their own unique path.

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