Luisa Rivera

|Research Associate
Academic Appointments

Neukom Postdoctoral Fellow

Luisa is a critical biocultural anthropologist interested in the way social inequality, trauma, and violence impact reproductive and maternal-infant health. Her research also examines the rise of epigenomic and molecular approaches to understanding how stress during development impacts health and the implications of social epigenetics for health policy. She conducts research on the embodied impacts of structural violence and intergenerational trauma in post-war communities in Guatemala as well as historically marginalized communities of color in the United States. At Dartmouth she is mentored by Dr. Zaneta Thayer in Anthropology and Dr. Brock Christensen at the Christensen Molecular Epidemiology Lab at the Geisel School of Medicine.


Silsby, Room 402
HB 6047




  • B.A. Harvard University, 2008
  • M.P.H. University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 2015
  • Ph.D. Emory University, 2022

Selected Publications

  • Ahmad, S. I., Shih, E. W., LeWinn, K. Z., Rivera, L., Graff, C., Mason, W. A., Karr, C. J., Sathyanarayana, S., Tylavsky, F. A., & Bush, N.R. (2022). Intergenerational transmission of effects of women's stressors during pregnancy: Child psychopathology and the protective role of parenting. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13.

    Rivera, L. M.1, Cerdena, J.C.1, & Spak, J. M. (2021). Intergenerational trauma in Latinxs: A scoping review. Social Science & Medicine, 270, 113662. 1 shared first author

    Aschbacher, K., Hagan, M., Steine, I., Rivera, L. M., Cole, S., Epel, E., Bacarella, A., Lieberman, A., Bush, N. (2021) Adversity in Early Life and Pregnancy are Uniquely Associated with Inflammatory Phenotype Biomarkers: Support for Sensitive Periods of Innate Immune System Development. Translational Psychiatry.

    Aschbacher, K., Cole, S., Hagan, M., Rivera, L. M., Bacarella, A., Wolkowitzl, O., Hendren, R., Lieberman, A., Bush, N. (2021). An Immunogenomic Phenotype Predicting Behavioral Treatment Response: Toward Precision Psychiatry for Trauma Exposure. Brain Behavior and Immunity.

    Rivera, L. (2020). Immunological Ghosts: Epigenetic Racialization in the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Thinking Republic. pandemic

Speaking Engagements

Rivera, L.M. (2022, November) Preconception trauma and offspring epigenetics. Paper given at American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting 2022, Seattle WA.

Rivera, L.M. (2022, June) Imprecision Medicine: Structural Racism and the Placental Epigenome. Paper given at ELSI in Epigenetics Conference, Technical University of Munich, Munich Germany.