Hector Olvera

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

Hector A. Olvera Alvarez has degrees in Civil Engineering (B.S.,1999), Environmental Engineering (M.S., 2002), and Environmental Science and Engineering (Ph.D., 2006). Dr. Olvera Alvarez’ post-doc experiences include trainings at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, NM. Recently, he received graduate certification in epidemiology from the University of Michigan (2017) and completed the four-year JPB Fellowship Program on Environmental Health Research (2018). He is also a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas since 2011. He joined the School of Nursing (SON) at the University of Texas at El Paso in fall 2015 as an Associate Professor and Director of Research. Prior he worked as a Research Assistant Professor in UTEP’s Center for Environmental Resource Management.

Fellowship Project: Life stress, particulate matter exposure, and inflammatory reactivity.
The aim of the project is to determine if exposure to severe stress during childhood results in a hyper-sensitivity to air pollution that persist throughout life and that is characterized by increased risk of developing systemic inflammation and hence diseases with inflammation-related etiologies. Determining this consequence of early life stress is important because individuals that are exposed to severe stress during childhood also tend to be exposed to adverse environmental conditions such as poor air quality throughout their lives; as these two types of exposures usually co-occur in social disadvantaged conditions.

Research Expertise

Dr. Olvera Alvarez’ research expertise is in exposure science and environmental epidemiology. During the fellowship program he was able to expand the focus of his program on understanding how the totality of environmental factors (e.g., natural, built, and social) interact to affect health and well-being across the lifespan. His current aim is to determine how severe psychosocial stress early in life increases the risk of chronic illness later in life. Specifically, he is studying how a neuro-immunological hyper-sensitivity to psychosocial and environmental stressors, which is programmed by stress in childhood, increases the risk of disease in adulthood via systemic inflammation. The conceptual frameworks for this work were recently published in high-impact journals1. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of his program, Dr. Olvera Alvarez mentors undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students from several disciplines (e.g., nursing, biology, psychology, and environmental science). He teaches primarily at the graduate level where he consistently receives strong student evaluations. 1 Olvera Alvarez HA, Kubzansky LD, Campen MJ, Slavich GM, Early Life Stress, Air Pollution, Inflammation, and Disease: An Integrative Review and Immunologic Model of Social-Environmental Adversity and Lifespan Health, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.06.002

Olvera Alvarez, H.A., Appleton, A.A., Fuller, C.H. et al. An Integrated Socio-Environmental Model of Health and Well-Being: a Conceptual Framework Exploring the Joint Contribution of Environmental and Social Exposures to Health and Disease Over the Life Span, Current Environmental Health Reports (2018) <a href=”https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40572-018-0191-2″5: 233. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-018-0191-2


During the fellowship program Dr. Olvera Alvarez founded the SON’s Biobehavioral Research Laboratory (BbRL), which offers extensive clinical, biomedical, and behavioral capacity for human subject research. In 2017, he was named co-director for the Interdisciplinary Health Ph.D. program at UTEP and since 2016, he also serves in the executive advisory board for the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE). In the community and in collaboration with the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso he founded the Alpha Youth Leadership Academy to serve at-risk youth from Government Subsidized Housing Communities in El Paso. Through the Academy, Dr. Olvera Alvarez connects UTEP students with at-risk youth to deliver structured curricula and hands-on opportunities that help develop the skills necessary to live a Happy, Healthy, and Self-Sufficient life.

Skill Set

Human subject research: Biobehavioral data collection (e.g., psychometric, biomarker, clinical endpoints) / Design and implementation of control exposure systems/protocols for environmental factors (air pollution, psychosocial stress, built environment via virtual reality) / Regional ambient and indoor exposure assessment for air pollution via monitoring and modeling techniques./ Spatial characterization of the built and social environments: Geographical Information Systems / Multi-level analysis and Structural Equation Modeling

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.