Pterygoplichthys up close


Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
5309 McGaugh Hall (Lab)
University of California
Irvine, CA 92697

Voice: (949)824-5603
Fax: (949)824-2181
dgerman "at"

Center for Organismal Biology 

Lab personnel
Spanning from the molecular to the whole-organism level, research in my laboratory is focused on the energy acquisition strategies of organisms.  In short, I am interested in how organisms make a living and the consequences of different energy acquisition strategies for ecosystem fluxes.  I largely work in the marine environment, but my students also work in terrestrial systems.

We condemn, in the strongest terms, the systemic racism that is pervasive in this country, and indeed, in the Academy itself. We condemn police murder and brutality against people of color, and we cannot tolerate racist and classist policies that assume the wealth and privilege of graduate students/postdocs in our university. We must do better and make EEB at UCI the inclusive place we want it to be. It starts with our local lab environment, and the German Lab remains committed to anti-racism. #BlackLivesMatter

Applying to grad school in biology? Here is a guide our lab developed.


September 2020: Welcome to new PhD student Matea Djokic! We look forward to doing great science together. Best of luck to everyone as we start the new academic year in these difficult times!

August 2020: Congrats to Michelle Herrera on an excellent presentation of her work testing "Phylosymbiosis" in prickleback fishes at the Comparative Nutrition Society meeting. Beck Wehrle's efforts along with a whole team of undergraduate researchers and other collaborators are now officially published in PBZ. See our Publications page. 

June 2020: Congrats to Michelle Herrera who has been named an Inclusive Excellence Abassador for UCI for Summer 2020. A huge congratulation to Newton Hood who won a Ridge 2 Reef Fellowship for 2020-2021! You can read about the R2R program here. Congrats to undergraduate research assistant Ariana Lee, who is starting as a new laboratory technician for the Wunderlich Lab at UCI. She on to bigger and better things! We also snapped a new lab photo to correctly capture the moment. We can't meet much in person, but we are meeting on Zoom! We have the best lab! 

May 2020: Michelle Herrera has advanced to candidacy! Congrats, Michelle! And, continuing her impressive spring, she won a Raney Award from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and a the Grover Stephens Memorial Award from the School of Biological Sciences at UCI. Phenomenal! Two new papers are now in press. 1) Our collaborative work with Mark McCauley and Colin Jackson (Univ of Mississippi), and Nathan Lujan (American Museum of Natural History) on the microbiomes of wood-eating catfishes is in press in Ecology and Evolution. 2) Dr. Beck Wehrle's paper on the digestive physiology of Croatian lizards (Podarcis siculus) is now in press at Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. Check our publications page for those papers soon! And, one final piece of good news is that we were awarded funding through the California Conservation Genomics Program. Along with Giacomo Bernardi and UCSC doctoral student, Dan Wright, we will be more deeply sequencing the genome of Cebidichthys violaceus! This is big for better understanding the biology of this herbivorous fish endemic to our coast.

March/April 2020: Five big pieces of news: 1) Karina Brocco French won a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! This is amazing and a huge boost. Karina is the third GRFP winner from the lab (Alyssa Frederick and Samantha Leigh being the first two); 2) Michelle Herrera won a Porter Physiology Development Fellowship from the American Physiological Society. This is similar to the GRFP in its level of funding and is a big deal! The first Porter Fellowship to our Department in over 20 years!; 3) Matea Djokic will be joining our laboratory as a PhD student starting in the fall! Welcome, Matea! We look forward to doing great science with you; 4) Former postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Joseph Heras, will be starting as an Assistant Professor at California State University San Bernardino in August 2020! Congrats to Joesph on landing a job!; and 5) Former doctoral student, Dr. Samantha Leigh, will be starting as an Assistant Professor at CSU Dominguez Hills in August 2020! I am so happy for her. This is such excellent news for all involved! Congrats! We are working on papers in this trying time and hope to squeeze out a few over the next few months. Stay tuned!

February 2020:
Our paper on Santa Ana Sucker nutritional physiology is out in Acta Zoologica. We are very excited about our paper on the physiological genomics of dietary adaptation in Cebidichthys violaceus, which is now in Proceedings of the Royal Society B! Many science blogs have picked it up, including univision  and UPI Science (and countless others at this point).  
See our publications page.
However, we do want to comment that the sensationalism used for headlines calling C. violaceus the "new white meat", "the new chicken", or the "savior of our planet" is just absurd. We said nothing of the sort. The final paragraph of our paper, which is mostly full of scientifically relevant discussion, states, "There is strong interest in using more plant-based aquaculture feeds, including plant lipid. The diversity of cel (carboxyl ester lipase) genes in C. violaceus may provide utility in genetically modified aquaculture fishes. Finally, given that C. violaceus is commonly found in Marine Protected Areas on the west coast of the United States, and is targeted for aquaculture in northern California where it is a delicacy, our data will also have application for conservation and better culturing techniques for this species." That's it. That's what we said. Anything else is complete and total spin for clicks. We appreciate the attention drawn to our work, but some of it is completely wrong.   

These are the recent news stories.  Check out the "People" page for links to each person's personal page, which will have more individual news.

We are always recruiting graduate students. Please contact Dr. German if you are interested in pursuing your PhD in Nutritional Ecology and/or Marine Biology at UCI.

Are you an undergrad interested in doing research in our lab?
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The laboratory of Donovan P. German
Ecological and nutritional physiology