Laura Hernandez, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Dairy Sciences
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B.S. 2002 New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
M.S. 2004 New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Ph.D. 2008 University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ
Post-doc 2011 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH



Research Focus

The overall goal of our laboratory is to understand how autocrine/paracrine factors in the mammary gland regulate mammary gland development, as well as milk synthesis and secretion.  We utilize a combination of in vitro and in vivo models, with a variety of mammalian species (mice, cattle, humans) to understand how the mammary gland and the mother adapt to lactation.  We also utilize a combination of molecular and whole animal physiological techniques to understand mammary gland physiology.

Our laboratory is focused on mammary gland biology and lactation.  In particular our area of research is centered around how serotonin made in the mammary gland affects mammary gland development and lactation.  In particular, one major area of focus for our laboratory is how serotonin regulates the mother’s ability to regulate calcium homeostasis at the onset of lactation.  Calcium is critical to milk formation and is the most abundant mineral in milk, but is also an important mineral that governs many of the mother’s physiological processes.  We are interested in the role serotonin plays in modulating calcium between the mother and the milk during lactation.  Every mammal must mobilize a certain portion of their skeleton to maintain adequate circulating calcium levels in addition to supporting the formation of milk.

A second area interest is the role of serotonin in modulating glucose metabolism during the immediate pre-partum period and the immediate postpartum period in mammals.   Serotonin appears to be important to the modulation of glucose concentrations, and also appears to be important for energy sensing within the mammary gland.

Research Funding

  • PI WIS01732  9/1/2013-8/31/2017 USDA, HATCH Formula Fund
  • Co-PI 2013-67015-21348 10/1/2013-9/30/2017 USDA, AFRI Foundation Grant
  • PI MSN175895 7/1/2014-6/30/2015 UW-Madison, Graduate School Annual Competition
  • PI 7/1/2014-6/30/2016 UW Consortium for Extension and Research in Agriculture and Natural Resources (CERANR)

Program Activities

  • Joined ERP Program: 2011
  • Teaching
    • Animal Sciences 875: Pregnancy, Parturition, and Lactation


Current Trainees Degree Goal
Samantha Weaver PhD
Past Trainees Degree Completed
 Justin Bohrer, MD MS