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. I maintain both a mouse and human lab.
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.
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.
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.
(*-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.
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.
Elizabeth Ochoa Sierra, B.A. Psychological Science
Graduate Student, Psychology, Spring 2021
My name is Elizabeth Ochoa Sierra and I am in my second year of graduate school at Cal State San Marcos. I contribute to our laboratory in the Lab-TAB portion of the study. As part of the Lab-TAB team, I conduct structured diagnostic interviews with moms about their children's moods and behaviors. I also lead activities aimed at measuring children's temperament. My research interests include looking at cross-cultural differences in temperament among White children and children of Mexican descent. With my experience, I plan to pursue a Ph.D in clinical psychology.
Edith Jimenez, B.A. Child & Adolescent Development with a minor in Psychology
My name is Edith Jimenez. I graduated from CSUSM in May 2018. I contribute to our laboratory in the LabTAB portion of the study as well as in coducting clinical diagnostic interviews. This being for the purpose of gaining more knowledge on Mexican American children's risk for psychopathology.
Yoselin Sanchez, B.A. Psychological Science
My name is Yoselin Sanchez. I graduated CSUSM in the Fall of 2018, I contribute to our labratory in the clinic portion of the study, I have recruited participants and conducted their visits during pregnancy and soon after the birth of their babies. I plan to pursue a career in Medicine where I can only hope to serve underrepresented and minority poplulations.
Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez, AAT Psychology, AAT Sociology
Psychological Science, Spring 2021
My name is Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez. I am in my 5th year at Cal State San Marcos, I contribute to our laboratory in the Infant P50 portion and Still-Face (infant behavior) procedure. With my experience, I plan to continue working with mothers throughout my academic development and hope to pursue a PhD in Psychological Science, become a university research professor and conduct research on the plasticity changes of the brain.
Karen Montiel, B.A. Psychological Science
Senior, Psychological Science, Spring 2020
My name is Karen Montiel and I am an undergraduate at Cal State San Marcos. I contribute to our laboratory in the LabTAB portion where I help assess maternal mental health outcomes and temperament development in preschool aged children. With my experience, I hope to pursue a PhD in Counseling Psychology.
Nataly Luna, B.A. Psychological Science
Senior, Psychological Science, Spring 2020
My name is Nataly Luna and I am currently pursuing a degree in Psychological Science with a minor in French. I plan on going to graduate school after and pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
Sophomore, Psychological Science, Spring 2022
My name is Jessica Orea and I am a sophomore at Cal State San Marcos. My current research interests include looking at how social, cultural, and experiential factors affect psychological well-being. In the future I plan to go onto graduate school to obtain a PhD and ultimately work in either a government or academic setting.
Junior, Psychological Science, Minor in Cognitive Science, Fall 2021
My name is Jayline Martinez and I am currently in my junior year at Cal State San Marcos. I contribute to our laboratory by conducting the 6 month follow up phone calls where I ask the mothers questions about their child's development and I administer questionnaires at the Vista Community Clinic. With my experience, I plan to attend graduate school and hope to pursue a Phd in Clinical Psychology.
Senior, Psychological Science, Fall 2020
My name is Melissa Ramirez. I am in my 4th year at Cal State San Marcos, I contribute to our laboratory in the Stil-Face (infant behavior) procedure. With my experience, I plan to attend graduate school and hope to pursue a Masters in Social Work or Therapist for kids. I want to make a change in children's lives.
Psychological Science, Spring 2021
My name is Gabriela Gutierrez. I am in my 5th year at Cal State San Marcos, I contribute to the clinic portion of our laboratory. I recruit participants as well as conduct pregnancy and birth visits. With my experience, I plan to attend graduate school and to pursue a Master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology.
Grace Hyun Lee, B.A.
I received my BA in psychology at the University of California, San Diego and I am currently finishing up my MA in psychological science at CSUSM researching the relative roles of maternal and pup peer contact in communal nesting (a type of social enrichment) and its relationship with offspring neurogenesis. I plan to continue conducting research and will apply to PhD programs Fall 2020.
I transferred from Palomar with an AA in Psychology and am currently working towards completing my BA degree in psychology at CSUSM. I intend on pursuing a PhD with the hopes of one day obtaining my own lab, but until then, I want to garner as much research experience as I can. I am extremely interested in behavioral neuroscience as well as neuropharmacology and would love to eventually conduct my own research in one of the fields.
I started in the lab following my acceptance to the APA Summer Research Program in 2019. Continuing as an undergraduate research assistant, I have studied the neurobiology of stress/ anxiety and the implications these may have on understanding the neural mechanisms of maternal behavior. My projects consist of understanding the differences in depressive- like symptoms in both single and communally housed dams using a sucrose preference test. My research interest included understanding the neural mechanism behind depressive- like disorders to properly treat impacted individuals. In the fall of 2020, I will be applying to Ph.D. programs in Neuroscience. I would like to become a professor and extend my knowledge to generations to come.