Dvera Saxton, PhD

Medical & Environmental Anthropologist

I believe in community-based approaches to research design and problem solving.

Current Work

Dvera is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at California State University, Fresno. Her research includes how elder farm workers in California’s San Joaquin Valley experience aging amidst high levels of toxic pollution, occupational and immigration stress and abuse, segregation and poverty, and institutional abandonment and neglect.

Personal Hero

My dad and Dr. Tyrone Hayes

Words of Strength

Community-based teaching, research, and activism


Dvera believes in community-based approaches to research design and problem solving. She trains her students to assess, analyze, and intervene in the challenges of aging in toxic places and empathize with diverse elders, their families, and bi-national communities.


Dvera is developing a body mapping methodology that will facilitate rural elder Latino participants to create visual stories that describe their embodied experiences of aging and help them express their ideas about the brain.


Dvera developed the NeuroNose curriculum, engaging audiences to lean more about how to protect their brains by using their noses. Breathing in toxic substances harm the brain, and we can stimulate and exercise our brains using our sense of smell.


Dvera seeks to better understand the lived experiences of working and aging in toxic places like California’s San Joaquin Valley, a key producer of food for the U.S. and the world. Her work aims to prevent harm to future generations.

Education & Experience

Dvera Saxton is an associate professor in the anthropology department at California State University, Fresno, where she teaches on topics related to health, environment, sex, gender, and sexuality, and she coordinates the internship program. She received her doctorate in anthropology, with an emphasis on race, gender, and social justice, from the American University in Washington, DC. From 2013–2014, she was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Social Science Environmental Health Institute at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Her forthcoming book The Devil's Fruit: Farmworkers, Health, and Environmental Justice, is due out from Rutgers University Press in February 2021. It explores the ways she merged ethnographic and activist methods to address farmworker health concerns about pesticides and other layered disparities and injustices. This work triggered her interest in farmworker brain health and aging, especially with respect to Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases affecting the brain and mobility.

Global Brain Health (GBHI)
Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
Social Science Environmental Health Institute, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Postdoctoral research fellow
American University, Washington, DC
Anthropology, with an emphasis in race, gender, and social justice