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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


Cultural Perinatal Mental Health Laboratory

human lab photo





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

Advisor: Dr. Stephen Gammie, PhD

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


Developmental Psychobiology Research Group Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Denver
National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Diversity Program in Neuroscience Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, American Psychological Association
Business Forum Scholarship, Dane County Women's Business Forum
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

Project One: 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

Project Two: 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.          





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)

Lara-Cinisomo, S, D’Anna-Hernandez, K.L., Fujimoto, E, Pedersen, C. (2018). Exploring associations between perinatal depression, anxiety, and urinary oxytocin levels in Latinas. Archives of Women’s Mental Health: in press.


Maldonado, A.*, & D’Anna-Hernandez, K.L. (2018). Acculturative stress, mental health symptoms, and the role of salivary inflammatory markers among a Latino sample. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 24(2): 277-283.


Hoffman, M.C., D’Anna-Hernandez, K.L., Benitez, P.*, & Laudenslager, M.L. (2017) Cortisol during human fetal life: Characterization of a method for processing small quantities of newborn hair from 26 to 42 weeks gestation. Developmental Psychobiology, 59(1): 123-127.


Preciado, A.* & D’Anna-Hernandez, K.L. (2017) Acculturative stress and trajectory of anxiety symptoms during pregnancy in Mexican-American women. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 40: 2835.


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.

 Human Lab

Mayra Leal

I graduated in spring with a B.A. in Psychological Science. I will applying for graduate school this fall. My goal is to obtain a Master's in Social Work


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.


Nataly Luna

My name is Nataly Luna. It’s my third year at Cal State San Marcos and my major is Psychological Science with a minor in French. I plan on going to graduate school after and pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology.


Kayla Osman

My name is Kayla Osman and I am currently an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Psychological Science with a minor in Women's Studies here at Cal State San Marcos. My research interests include looking at minority groups and the psychological effects they face due to discrimination. After graduating, I hope to attend PA school and pursue a career as a PA in psychiatric health.


Gladys GonzalezMatias 

My name is Gladys Gonzalez-Matias. I transferred from MiraCosta College and am currently an undergraduate student at CSUSM pursuing a BS in Biological Sciences. My goals are to attend medical school and either pursue an MD or MD/PhD degree. I am interested in addressing health care disparities, as well as conducting biomedical research. I am excited to be part of Dr. D’Anna-Hernandez’s lab and be able to gain greater research skills.


Christina Perez

My name is Christina Perez and I am currently pursuing a major in Psychology and minor in Global Studies with a focus in Europe as well as International Law and Human Rights. After graduating from Cal State San Marcos, I plan to attend graduate school. 




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 Garcia, MA: Currently in a PhD program at University of California, Irvine
    • Eva Urbina:Counseling Psych PhD Program at Colorado State University
    • Andrea Preciado, MA: Project Manager at UCSD
    • Jennifer Lobos: Currently attending Arizona State University in a counseling Psych PhD program. 
  • Undergraduate Members

    • Alex Velasquez, BA
    • Amiel Maldonado, BA: Currently in a Public Health program at UC Berkeley
    • Ariene Cornejo, BA: Currently in a Master's ABA program at Arizona State University
    • Diana Gonzalez, BA
    • Elemy Yeme, BA
    • Erika Luis Sanchez, BA: CUrrently is in Clinical Psych program at UCSB
    • Guadalupe Chim, BA
    • Marrcela Martinez, BA
    • Meylin Melchor, BA: Graduated with her masters from Arizona State University
    • Paola Ilescas, BA
    • Brianna Espinada, 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.
Jhair Torres - Lab Manager
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.
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.
Alexandra Selke
I completed my BA in psychological science in spring 2018 here at CSUSM, and have been working with Dr. D'Anna-Hernandez since winter of 2016. Specifically, I am interested in uncovering the neuromechanisms that may precede and drive maternal stress and depression, using a mice model. I plan to earn a PhD in neuroscience after completion of my MA in psychological science here at CSUSM, and hope to one day open my own research laboratory.
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.

Victoria Riesgo

am currently completing my undergraduate studies in psychology here at CSUSM. I especially enjoy studying the brain and psychological disorders. I plan to continue my studies in psychology and behavioral neuroscience, and eventually obtain a doctoral degree. 


Amir Alayoubi

I am a 4th year Psychology Major here at CSUSM. I greatly enjoy studying both behavioral and cognitive Neuroscience and plan on pursuing a Ph.D to one day have a lab of my own as well as be a professor. My plans in the near future are to stay involved with the lab, complete my last year of my undergrad, and prepare for GRE's/applications. 


Faye Raymond

I am currently a fourth year psychology major at CSUSM. I am highly interested in behavioral neuroscience, especially in relation to hormones and neurological disorders. I plan to continue studying behavioral neuroscience, and building my research experience, as I prepare to pursue my PhD. I hope to continue research in relation to neurological disorders, one day having my own lab.


Jace Kuske

I transferred from Palomar with an AA in Psychology, and I am now working on my BA in Psychology. After I graduate, I plan to obtain my Ph.D. in Behavioral Neurobiology or Neuroendocrinology to investigate the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in ethnic minority and homeless populations.



Xochitl Lopez

High School Interns

Adriana Vasquez

I am a senior at Del Lago Academy. In the future, I hope to attend a 4 year university and pursue a career in animal sciences or psychology. 

Past Members
  • Graduate Members

    • Marcia Chavez, MA: Currently in a Behavioral Neuroscience PhD program at University of Tennessee at Knoxville
    • Arthur Jay Castaneda, MA: Currently in a Behavioral Neuroscience PhD program at University of Tennessee at Knoxville
    • Mike McCreary, MA
    • Alex Kowalczyk, MA: Graduated from a PhD program at UC Davis
  • Undergraduate Members

    • Meghan Hamlin, BA
    • Justin Sanchez
    • Alicia Perry, BA: Graduated with a Master's at University of Southern California
    • 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
    • Karen Diaz, BA: Master’s program in Neuropsychology at University of Kent
    • Imelda Lopez, BA:  Master’s in Biology at CSULA
    • Kyra Presnell, BA