Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez
Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Office: SBSB 3229
Phone: 760-750-8275
Hours: M 3:00-3:50PM, W 9:00-10:00AM
HomeEducationResearchCoursesVitaeHuman LabMouse Lab

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

Picture of KDH Lab as of Spring 2016

Maternal Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab will be accepting one graduate student beginning in 2017 

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: 

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.


Mouse Lab Application

Human Lab: 

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.

Human Lab Application


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.

Cultural Perinatal Mental Health Laboratory



 Eva Urbina 

Eva Urbina

Graduate Student, Experimental Psychological Science, 2017

This fall I will be a second year graduate student at CSUSM, working toward my master's degree in psychological science. My thesis will focus on how cultural stressors in mothers affect infant outcomes, early health trajectories, and how it may be related to obesity rates. My ultimate goal is to earn a PhD in psychology with a focus on health.

Maria Cole

Graduate Student, Experimental Psychological Science, 2017

Jennifer Lobos

Jennifer Lobos, BA

Graduate Student, Psychological Science, 2018

I received my B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Riverside in 2015.  I am currently a first year graduate student interested in better understanding prenatal programming of mental illnesses and depression risk in children born to Mexican and Mexican American women.  My goal is to go on to a Clinical PhD program where I can continue my research on the development and etiology of depression and other forms of psychopathology within minority communities.


Raquel Good, BA

Graduate Student, Psychological Science, 2018

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. 
Andrea Preciado, MA
I graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2014. I also graduated from California State University San Marcos with a Master's in Psychological Science in the Fall 2016. My thesis focused on the mediating roles of hair cortisol levels on the relationship between acculturative stress and state anxiety in pregnant Mexican American women. I am currently working as the Lab Clinic Manager for the human lab. 

Amiel Maldonado     

Amiel Maldonado

Junior Undergraduate, Business Administration & Child and Adolescent Development, 2017

I started working at the Mom Lab in January of 2016. I am interested in research regarding minority health discrepancies, specifically of children from low SES backgrounds. I plan to pursue a Masters degree in Public Health.

 Guadalupe Chim

Guadalupe Chim

Senior Undergraduate, Human Development, 2016

Plans to attend graduate school fall 2017 with a masters in social work /public health.

Junue Hernandez

Junue Hernandez

Junior Undergradute, Psychological Science, 2019

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

Paola Illescas

 Paola Ilescas

Senior Undergraduate, Major Psychology, Minor Anthropology, 2017.

I hope that someday I can be a public health promoter in the rural, indigenous villages of Oaxaca focusing on women's reproductive and sexual well-being.

 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.

Past Members

Graduate Members

Adrianna Maldonado, MA

Community and Behavioral Health PhD program at University of Iowa

Ana-Mercedes Flores, MA

Currently in a Clinical PhD program at Eastern Michigan University

Esmeralda Garica, MA
Currently in a PhD program at Univesity of California, Irvine

Undergraduate Members

Alex Velasquez, BA

Arlene Cornejo, BA
Currently in Master's ABA program at Arizona State Univesity.
Diana Gonzalez, BA
Elemy Yeme, BA
Erika Luis Sanchez, BA
Currently in a Master's program at SDSU
Marcela Martinez, BA
Meylin Melchor, BA
Currently in Master's ABA program at Arizona State Univesity.

Maternal Behavior Neuroendocrinology Lab


Erin K. Lane - Supervisor

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.


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 

I'm a Human Development: Health Services Concentration major and I am minoring in Psychological Science. I love to study about the brain and the neurological disorders especially Schizophrenia. My research interests will consist of learning more about Schizophrenia (environmental factors, genetics, diagnosis, etc). Currently, I am working in Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez's neuroendocrine lab and I am learning all I can in there. I learn something new everyday and I enjoy dedicating my time helping the grad students and Professor D'Anna in any way that I can. I want to gain as much research experience as I can while I am an undergrad. I have one more year left at CSUSM and when I graduate, I hope to attend Bangor University for graduate school in order to study Neuropsychology. In the near future, after I succeed in obtaining not only my Master's but PhD, I hope to become a Neuropsychologist. I would also like to conduct my own research regarding schizophrenia and other neurological disorders.

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.


Meghan Hamlin

I graduated with a degree in Psychology from California State University San Marcos in 2016. My experience working on projects in the lab, such as chronic variable stress, have facilitated my decision to pursue a degree in nursing. My interests lie in the neuromechanisms behind biopsychological ailments such as stress and depression. In the future I hope to continue researching these topics in a medical context. 

 Arthur Jay Castaneda        

Arthur Jay Castaneda, BA

Graduate Student, Experimental Psychological Science, 2017

I completed my BA in Psychology here at CSUSM in 2013. Since then I have had the opportunity to work industry as a researcher, and greatly value that experience which has pushed me to pursue my MA in Experimental Psychological Science. I will continue to pursue a Ph.D in the fall of 2017 

Marica Chavez

Marcia Chavez, BA

Graduate Student, Experimental Psychological Science, 2017

I began my undergraduate career at Bakersfield College and completed my BA in psychology at California State University in Bakersfield (CSUB). While there, I became interested in research and began working as a research assistant under Dr. Isabel Sumaya in her behavioral neuroscience lab which focused on the effects of diet and environment on memory performance in rats. After graduating from CSUB in 2014, I applied to the Masters Program in Experimental Psychology at CSUSM and now work with Dr. Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez in her maternal behavior and behavioral neuroendocrinology lab. My thesis project focuses on the potential for communal nesting to rescue the effects of prenatal infection in male and female offspring. My future goal is to look at how different risk and protective factors for mental health affect prenatal brain development and behavior.

Past Members



Graduate Members 

Mike McCreary, MA 

Alex Kowalczyk, MA 

Currently in a PhD program at UC Davis 


Undergraduate Members 

                    Alicia Perry, BA                     

Graduated with a Master's at University of Southern California 

Bobby Mercado, BA 

School Psychology Specialist Masters Program at CSUS  

Carlos Gonzalez, 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 Psycholgy Educational Specialist Program at SDSU  

Lura Jacques, BA 

Currently in a 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