Student Spotlight: Lauren Hillers

headshot: Lauren Hillers


Crystal Lake, Illinois

Year entered CMB program:



Lisa Arendt Lab


Brief Summary of Research:

My lab studies obesity associated breast cancers. I am specifically investigating how obesity alters the breast microenvironment prior to tumor development and how these changes promote more aggressive tumors in obese patients.

Awards and Publications:

Awards: CMB Travel Grant Spring 2017, Outstanding Research by a Graduate Student at the Phi Zeta Research Day Poster Presentation Competition

Publications: Hillers LE, D’Amato JV, Chamberlin TC, Paderta G, Arendt LM. Obesity-activated adipose-derived derived stromal cells promote breast cancer growth and invasion. Neoplasia. 2018;20(11):1161-74. Epub 2018/10/15. doi: 10.1016/j.neo.2018.09.004. PubMed PMID: 30317122; PMCID: PMC6187054.

Why did you decide to attend graduate school?

I decided to attend graduate school in order to continue my pursuit of knowledge and my passion for biology. During undergrad I found my research experiences to be extremely valuable and I desired to continue my education through an in depth study of cellular and molecular biology.

Why did you choose UW-Madison’s CMB Program?

I chose UW-Madison’s CMB Program for my graduate education because it encompassed everything I was looking for in both a program and university. CMB offers an incredible number of faculty trainers in which I could work with and offers flexible course requirements allowing me to tailor my classes to my interests. UW-Madison has a reputation of scholarship, excellence, and providing its students with an excellent education. Also, the students in the CMB program are fun, energetic, and great peers to have during graduate school.

What inspired you to go into your field of study?

I have always been fascinated by biology. Both obesity and breast cancer effect a vast number of individuals and the idea of studying how obesity affects breast cancer was an opportunity I could not turn down.

What is the best conference/seminar you have ever attended? Why?

The best conference I have attended was the Gordon Conference in Mammary Gland Biology because it was a really great experience to interact with other graduate students, postdocs, and professors in my field. I had the opportunity to attend fascinating seminars, and I learned so much over the course of the week. Plus, I was able to go to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

What are your long-term career goals?

My long-term career goal is to have a career in science policy. I desire to see the gap filled between the scientific community and the public. I think there needs to be more people sitting in between these two groups of people so that information can be efficiently passed between the two. I would love to work as a science advisor someday.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

One fun, and random fact about myself is that one of my collarbones is shorter than the other.

What is your favorite memory so far in the CMB Program?

My favorite memories from CMB so far has been the CMB retreats.