Hector Olvera, Ph.D., PE

Headshot of Fellow Hector Olvera Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Senior Associate Dean for Research, School of Nursing
Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, Oregon

Fellowship Project: Life stress, particulate matter exposure, and inflammatory reactivity/ Nature Contact, and Health Inequities (Collaborative Project)

Dr. Hector Olvera Alvarez is an interdisciplinary health scientist with interests in environmental health, health equity, and psychological wellbeing currently serving as the Senior Associate Dean for Research at the School of Nursing, Oregon Health and Science University. His academic journey emerged from his graduate experiences in Environmental Engineering and Sciences from the University of Texas at El Paso, enriched by post-doctoral training experiences in epidemiology, lung dosimetry, psychological stress and well-being, and public health.

During his time as a JPB Environmental Health Fellow, Dr. Olvera Alvarez expanded his research horizons significantly. He delved deeply into how various environmental factors – natural, built, and social – intertwine and influence our health and well-being throughout our lives. A particular focus of his work has been on the profound impact of early-life psychosocial stress on the risk of chronic illness in later years via a sensitization to the environment. Specifically, his innovative research explores how childhood stress affects adult disease through neuro-immunological mechanisms that cause hypersensitivity and drive systemic inflammation.

Beyond his research, Dr. Olvera Alvarez has made substantial contributions to academia and the community. He founded the Biobehavioral Research Laboratory (BbRL) at the UTEP School of Nursing, serve as the Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility at the Oregon Clinical and Translational Institute, and served on the executive boards for National University of Naturopathic Medicine and the Oregon Latino Health Coalition. His community involvement is equally impressive, notably founding the Alpha Youth Leadership Academy in collaboration with the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, connecting at-risk youth with educational and developmental opportunities.

What sets Dr. Olvera Alvarez apart within health science is his personal commitment to the communities he serves. His journey is not just academic but is also deeply rooted in personal spirituality and extensive community involvement. This unique blend of professional expertise and personal dedication underscores his commitment to improving lives through a deeper understanding of the complex interplay between our environment and health. As a mentor and educator, he is an inspiration, nurturing the next generation of environmental health professionals with his innovative and holistic approach.