Headshot photo of Hector Olvera Alvarez, Ph.D., PE

Hector Olvera Alvarez, Ph.D., PE

  • Associate Professor, School of Nursing
  • Senior Associate Dean for Research, School of Nursing


I am interested in understanding the combined role of psychosocial stress and environmental factors (e.g., air pollution) in the connection between low socio-economic status (SES) and health outcomes across the life span. Currently, my work focuses on disentangling the biobehavioral pathways through which these social and environmental factors interact to cause health disparities. Building on a broad research experience, skill set (e.g., environmental and social epidemiology, exposure science), and mentorship, I recently structured a set of interdisciplinary conceptual frameworks that jointly explain how socially-disparate susceptibilities — like early life stress — can amplify the impact of environmental factors — like air pollution — on cardiovascular health. Now, I am testing the hypothesis proposed by these frameworks through novel semi-controlled experiments of human exposure to near-traffic air pollution in real-world microenvironments and through the Nurse Engagement and Wellness Study (NEWS), a longitudinal cohort study (n > 500) of predominately Hispanic nursing students from Texas — for which I am the principal investigator — that aims at disentangling the pathways through which early life stress induces life-long sensitivity to social (e.g., stress) and environmental (e.g., green space, metals, air pollution) factors and increases the risk for inflammation-related health problems in adulthood.

Education and training

  • Degrees

    • B.S., 1999, Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez
    • M.S., 2002, The University of Texas at El Paso
    • Ph.D., 2006, The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Fellowship

    • JPB Fellow, Environmental Health — Harvard School of Public Health, 2014-2018
  • Certifications

    • Graduate Certificate, Epidemiology — University of Michigan, 2017
    • Professional Engineer — Texas Board of Professional Engineers, 2010

Areas of interest

  • The role of stress and the environment in the link between low SES and health disparity.



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