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Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez

Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Office: SBSB 3229
Hours: M 3:00-3:50PM, W 9:00-10:00AM

Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez

Kimberly L. D'Anna-Hernandez, Ph.D. I joined the CSUSM  Psychology faculty in the Fall of 2011; my area of specialization is behavioral neuroscience. I completed my predoctoral work at Michigan State University and postdoctoral training with the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado Denver. Among my research interests are the role of stress/arousal peptides on maternal behavior in mice and the role of acculturation and other psychosocial measures on the biological response to stress in pregnant women, particularly Mexican and Mexican-American women. To do this I maintain both a mouse and human lab.

Maternal Behavior Neuroendocrinology Mouse Lab

 mouse lab

Cultural Perinatal Mental Health Laboratory


Human Lab



2008      Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison; Zoology, Behavioral Neuroscience

                      Advisor: Dr. Stephen Gammie, PhD                                                        

2003      B.S., Michigan State University; Zoology, Animal Behavior/Neurobiology


2010      Developmental Psychobiology Research Group Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Denver

2008      National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellow

2007      Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship

2006      Diversity Program in Neuroscience Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, American              Psychological Association

2006      Business Forum Scholarship, Dane County Women's Business Forum

2003      Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, University of Wisconsin


Current Research

Mothers are essential to offspring well-being and survival. As such, situations that disrupt the maternal-infant bond (e.g. maternal depression, drug use) can be devastating to the health and welfare of offspring, and even fatal. Thus, it is important to identify factors that may motivate mothers to perform nurturing offspring-directed care. In the perinatal period, there are many neuromechanistic changes, such as alterations in the vigilance and reward systems in the brain that may motivate mothers to engage in maternal behavior. My long-term research objective is to use both behavioral and physiological measures to assess the impact of the prenatal environment (arousal, stress, mood, neuroendrocrine regulation) on subsequent developmental trajectories of offspring related to the vulnerability of depression.

I maintain both a mouse and human maternal behavior lab. The Human Lab has two current projects as listd below. I am always looking for reliable and motivated students to assist with my research. Links for respective lab applications can be found below.

Mouse Lab: 

Mouse Lab Application

The mouse lab includes a variety of behavioral (e.g maternal behavior testing, and stress anxiety measures) as well as physiological measures looking at how the neurobiology of arousal and stress related peptides in the brain affect maternal behavior. A model of postpartum depression was created to look at maternal behavior in mice. The lab breeds mice and test are conducted on the them such as tail suspension which measures depression and the t-maze which measures their maternal motivation. The mice's behavior is then scored by pup retrieval, time spent with her pups,  and time they spend grooming their pups etc. Implementing these stressors to the mice allows students to look at the behavioral changes in the mice when they undergo different stressors. Students in this lab will be responsible for working with and testing on live animals and will gain further knowledge on maternal behavior in mice.




Human Lab: 

Human Lab Application

This project includes, pilot interventions to decrease gestational weight gain in obese pregnant women. Obese women who are at risk  for increase gestational weight gain are also at risk  for other health conditions like hypertension,    preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes, which all  are a risk factors for adverse infant outcomes.  This research lab focuses on health research  teams to pilot a group prenatal visit interventions  to decrease gestational weight and optimize  offspring health. This research project with provide, students with critical translational research experience for students.          

 Mexican- American women report higher levels of depression during pregnancy when compared to their US counterparts. This research will examine the association with cultural factors and increased risk for mental health problems during pregnancy. Their children will be followed through preschool and examined as well. Students in this lab will be involved in all levels of the project such as recruitment and retention of participants, saliva and hair collection, child temperament and symptom assessment, sample management and performance of cortisol assays. Thus, providing students with critical translational research experience for students.                                                                                       





Psyc 391 Laboratory in Physiological Psychology: Teaches advanced research methods in physiological processes underlying brain function and behavior as well as application of methodological principles to research in such areas as neuroanatomy, physiology, behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology.

Psyc 360 Biopsychology: Introduction to the biological bases of behavior, including material central to physiological psychology, comparative psychology, behavioral genetics, and sensory psycho­logy. Issues to be addressed include but are not limited to neuroethology, behavioral endocrinology, evolutionary theory, sociobiology, and sensory systems.

Psyc 361 Brain and Mind: Examines the relationship between the brain, and how the brain produces behavior. Intended for non-majors, this course will review basic neuroanatomy and physiology, and consider mind/brain relations in the context of psychoactive drugs, brain development, neurological disorders, sexual behavior, and cognitive abilities such as language, memory, thinking, and consciousness.


My current CV


(*-denotes work with trainee coauthors)

Preciado, A.* & D’Anna-Hernandez, K.L. (2016) Acculturative stress and trajectory of anxiety symptoms during pregnancy in Mexican-American women. Journal of Anxiety Disorders: in press.


Hoffman, M.C., D’Anna-Hernandez, K.L., Benitez, P., & Laudenslager, M.L. (2016). Cortisol during human fetal life: Characterization of a method for processing small quantities of newborn hair from 26 to 42 weeks gestation. Developmental Psychobiology: in press.

D’Anna-Hernandez, KL, Garcia, E*, Hoffman, MC, Ross, RG, and Laudenslager, ML. (2016). Alterations in sleep patterns lead to adverse birth outcomes in Mexican-American women. Maternal and Child Health: 20(2): 422-433.

D’Anna-Hernandez, KL, Aleman, B, Flores, AM. (2015) Acculturative stress, but not acculturation, predicts maternal depression in Mexican-American women during pregnancy. Journal of Affective Disorders: 176: 35-42.

D’Anna, KL, Hunter, SK, Zerbe, GO and Ross, RG (2013). Paternal substance abuse disorders worsen the trajectory of maternal depressive symptoms during the first year postpartum, Mental Illness: 5:e1.

*Hunter SK, Mendoza JH, D'Anna K, Zerbe G, McCarthy L, Hoffman C, Freedman R, Ross RG (2012). Antidepressants may mitigate the effects of prenatal maternal anxiety on infant auditory sensory gating. American Journal of Psychiatry: 169(6): 616-624.

D’Anna-Hernandez, KL, Hoffman , MC, Coussons-Read, ME, Laudenslager, ML, and Ross, RG. (2012). Maternal blunted cortisol slope during pregnancy is associated with acculturation and low infant birth weight in US Mexican women, Psychosomatic Medicine: 74(3):296-304

*Coussons-Read, ME, Lobel, MJ, Carey, JC, Kreither, MO, D’Anna, KL, Argys, L., Ross, RG, Brandt, C, Cole, S. (2012). The occurrence of preterm delivery is linked to pregnancy-specific distress and elevated inflammatory markers across gestation. Brain Behavior and Immunity: 26(4): 650-659.

D’Anna-Hernandez, KL, Ross, RG, Natvig CL, and Laudenslager, MLL. (2011). Hair cortisol levels as a marker of stress during pregnancy: Comparison to salivary cortisol, Physiology and Behavior. 104(2): 348-353.

Gammie SC, D’Anna KL, Gerstein H, Stevenson SA. (2009). Neurotensin inversely modulates maternal aggression. Neuroscience. 158(4): 1215-23.

D'Anna KL and Gammie SC. (2009). Activation of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 in lateral septum negatively regulates maternal defense. Behavioral Neuroscience. 123(2): 356-68.

D'Anna KL, Stevenson SA, Gammie SC. (2008). Maternal profiling of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 deficient mice in association with restraint stress. Brain Research. 1241: 110-21.

*Gammie SC, Edelmann MN, Mandel-Brehm C, D'Anna KL, Auger AP, Stevenson SA. (2008). Altered dopamine signaling in naturally occurring maternal neglect. PLoS ONE. 3(4): e1974.

D’Anna KL and Gammie SC. (2006). Hypocretin-1 dose-dependently modulates maternal behaviour in mice. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. 18(8):553-66.

D’Anna, KL., Stevenson, SA and Gammie, SC. (2005). Urocortin 1 and Urocortin 3 impair maternal defense behavior in mice. Behavioral Neuroscience, 119(4):1061-71.

Gammie SC, Hasen NS, Stevenson SA, Bale TL, D’Anna, KL. (2005). Elevated stress sensitivity in corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 deficient mice decreases maternal, but not intermale aggression. Behavioural Brain Research, 160(1):169-77.

Book Chapters and Reviews

Gammie, SC, D’Anna, KL, Lee, G, Stevenson, SA. 2008. Role of Corticotropin releasing factor-related peptides in the neural regulation of maternal defense. In R.S. Bridges (Eds.), Neurobiology of Parental Brain. Elsevier. 101-114

D’Anna-Hernandez, KL. The Oxford Handbook of Psychoneuroimmunology Book Review. Brain, Behavior and Immunity: in press.

Human Lab

Cultural Perinatal Mental Health Laboratory

☆ Accepting Graduate Students in 2018! ☆


Raquel Good

Raquel Good, BA
Graduate Student, Psychological Science, 2019

I completed my BA in psychology at UCSD, where I also gained research experience in clinical psychology studying posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as social psychology, cognitive science, and neuropsychology. I am very excited to be working with Dr. D'Anna-Hernandez on studies that focus on perinatal mental health in minority communities. I plan to pursue a PhD and to continue to grow as a researcher.


Jessica Rico, B.A.
Graduate Student, Psychological Science

I graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology. My goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. I am most interested in working with children who are experiencing behavioral and emotional problems.

Delia Sanchez
Senior Undergraduate, Biochemistry and Psychology Major

I plan to attend graduate school next year and focus on Developmental Psychopathology.


Junue Hernandez

Junue Hernandez
Junior Undergraduate, Psychological Science, 2019

Planning to attend graduate school after graduating from CSU San Marcos.


 Selina Gonzales 

Selina Gonzales
Sophomore Undergraduate, Major Biology, Minor Chemistry, 2019

My academic and professional goal is to obtain a Ph.D in the Biological Sciences after graduating from CSUSM with my BS.

Mayra Leal


Brianna Espinda



Priscilla Perez

My name is Priscilla Perez and I am currently an Undergraduate obtaining a degree in Medical Anthropology at CSUSM. As I graduate this Spring, I am excited to be working with Dr. D’Anna-Hernandez and Raquel Good where I will be gaining knowledge in lab research and public health. Upon completion of my Bachelors degree and internship here at Cal State San Marcos, my goal is to attend graduate school and enroll in a Public Health program where I will be concentrating mainly on Epidemiology. 


Past Members


Graduate Members

Undergraduate Members

Adrianna Maldonado, MA

Community and Behavioral Health PhD program at University of Iowa

Alex Velasquez, BA

Ana-Mercedes Flores, MA

Currently in a Clinical PhD program at Eastern Michigan University

Amiel Maldonado, BA

Currently in a Public Health program at UC Berkeley 

Esmeralda Garcia, MA

Currently in a PhD program at University of California, Irvine

Ariene Cornejo, BA

Currently in a Master's ABA program at Arizona State University

Eva Urbina

PhD student in a Clinical Psych Program at Colorado State University

Diana Gonzalez, BA

 Andrea Preciado, MA

Elemy Yeme, BA

Jennifer Lobos

PhD student in a Clinical Psych Program at University of New Mexico

Erika Luis Sanchez, BA

Currently in a Master's program at SDSU


Guadalupe Chim, BA


Marrcela Martinez, BA


Meylin Melchor, BA

Currently in a Master's ABA program at Arizona State University

Paola Ilescas, BA

Mouse Lab

Maternal Behavior Neuroendocrinology Lab


Erin Lane
Erin K. Lane, MA - Supervisor/Vivarium Technician
I received both my BA in Psychology and MA in Experimental Psychology from Cal State San Marcos.  Even as a student, my research has focused on animal behavior, including snake recognition in Geoffroy’s marmosets, and sexual selection in bearded dragon lizards.  As the supervisor of the D’Anna-Hernandez mouse lab, I help conduct and supervise research in stress and depression and its effects on maternal behavior in mice.  I continue to be interested in questions regarding the evolution of traits and behavior, animal communication, as well as learning and cognition.
 Grace Hyun Lee
Grace Hyun Lee, BA
I completed my BA in psychology at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 2014. Since then, I have worked as a supervised visitation monitor for families with custody disputes, as a behavioral therapist for children with autism, and as a research assistant in the Mind, Experience, and Perception lab at UCSD studying sleep and circadian rhythms in autism and visual perception of signing and deaf individuals. I hope to pursue a doctorate degree and continue studying behavioral neuroscience. 
Imelda Lopez
Senior Undergraduate, Major Biology, Minor Chemistry, 2018
I began my undergraduate career in the fall of 2013, here at California State University San Marcos. I am currently working to obtain my Bachelors degree in Biological Science. After I graduate, I want to go to graduate school to obtain my PhD and do research in the Immunology field.
 Karen Diaz
Karen Diaz 
I'm a Human Development: Health Services Concentration major and I am minoring in Psychological Science. I enjoy studying about the brain and the neurological disorders especially Schizophrenia. My research interests consist of learning more about the neurological disorders. In the near future, I plan to obtain my PhD in order to become a Neuropsychologist. I would also like to conduct my own research regarding schizophrenia and other neurological disorders via animal work. I will be attending Bangor University in Wales to attain my M.S.


Kyra Presnell
Kyra Presnell 
I am currently an undergraduate majoring in Psychological Science. I transferred to Cal State San Marcos with an AA in psychology from Mira Costa College. I plan to use the experience from the neuroendocrinology lab to pursue a career in research, with a focus on Alzheimer's, and devote my time to further analyze the neurological benefits of music, art, and animal therapy.
Alexandra Selke

I am currently studying psychology here at CSUSM. Since joining the lab I have had the opportunity to help run various studies looking at both chronic and acute stress in mice. Once I graduate, I hope enter a postbaccalaureate program and eventually earn a PhD in neuroscience.

Jhair Torres
I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in psychology at California State University San Marcos. I want to gain as must research experience as I can before graduating in the spring of 2018. My ultimate goal is to obtain a PhD in neuroscience.
Taryn Meinhardt
I started my undergraduate career at Mira Costa College, where I received my Associates degree in Psychology before transferring to CSUSM. I am currently working toward my Bachelor's degree in Psychology and hope to gain research experience working in Dr. D'Anna-Hernandez's lab. My ultimate goal is to obtain my PhD in Neuroscience.
Connor Whitten
I transferred from Palomar college with my AA in Psychology. Currently I am working on my BA in Psychological Science with and emphasis in neuroendocrinology. My goal is to obtain a PhD. in Behavioral Neuroscience and establish a lab as a professor at a University using a biopsychosocial model approach to better understand the neuronal underpinnings of mental health and neurological disorders. 


Xochitl Lopez


High School Interns

Leandra Heyveld
I am currently a high school student from Del Lago Academy, Campus of Applied Science. I am currently an intern at CSUSM as a lab assistant and hope to study behavioral sciences in the future. 
Jackie Alatorre
I am currently a junior at Del Lago Academy, I am serving as an intern at the CSUSM psychology lab. In the future I hope to pursue a career in psychology or forensic science.

Past Members

Graduate Members

Undergraduate Members

Marcia Chavez, MA

Currently in a Behavioral Neuroscience PhD program at University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Meghan Hamlin, BA

Arthur Jay Castaneda, MA

Currently in a Behavioral Neuroscience PhD program at Ohio State University

Justin Sanchez

 Mike McCreary, MA    

Alicia Perry, BA

Graduated with a Master's at University of Southern California

Alex Kowalczyk, MA

Currently in a PhD program at UC Davis

Bobby Mercado, BA

School Psychology Specialist Masters Program at CSUS


Carlos Gonzales, BA

Currently in a Neuroscience PhD program at Stanford University



Erin Snider, BA


Gabe Holguin, BA

Psychological Science Master's at CSUSM


Heather Cody, BA

School Psychology Educational Specialist Program at SDSU


Lura Jacques, BA

Currently in an Organizational Psychology Master's program at CSU Long Beach


Natalie Grenier, BA


Yesenia Cabrera, BA

Neuroscience PhD program at UCLA


Zak Pronenko, BA


Haley Norris, BA

Experiment Psychology Master's Program at St. Joseph University