Pterygoplichthys up close


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

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 imagery
Lab personnel submarine
Spanning from the molecular to the whole-organism level, research in our laboratory focuses on the energy acquisition strategies of organisms.  In short, we are interested in how organisms make a living and the consequences of different energy acquisition strategies for ecosystem fluxes.  Most of us work in the marine environment, but some prefer terrestrial & freshwater systems.

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


March 2024: Dr. Michelle Herrera (PhD 2023) was just awarded a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD)! This is very exciting. The Chancellor's Fellowship comes with all the same benefits of the UC President's Postdoctoral Fellowship, so this is huge for Michelle's advancement and career. Congrats, Michelle! Kaitlyn Steinmann was awarded a Undergraduate Research Oppotunity Program Travel Award to present her poster at the American Physiological Summit in April 2024 in Long Beach! Her poster is on digestive enzyme activities in prickleback fishes with different diets. See you at the APS Summit! Dr. Beck Wehrle (PhD 2018) will start as a tenure-track professor at LeMoyne College in New York in July! Congrats to Beck! Finally, Valentina Peña will join the lab as a PhD student in the fall! You can read about Valentina's current position here: Research Scholars… | The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute

February 2024: Special day! Dr. Karina Brocco French defended her PhD and did an amazing job. Her dissertation was on how the microbiomes of sea urchin larvae change across ontogeny and in response to the pollutant TBT, which is in antifouling paints and persists in the environment. She also did an amazing meta-analysis on what we know about TBT globally. She is the 5th PhD from our lab, and is on the market for a policy position. Onward and upward for members of our lab!

December 2023: As the year windes down, we had some more good news. First, Nefertiti Smith Christman won best graduate student presentation at the Southwest Organismal Biology meeting in November. We only recently got the news. Way to go, Nefertiti! Then, four undergraduates won funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at UCI! Congrats to Jordan Buckner, Kaitlyn Steinmann, Shannon Stolaruck and Harleen Thandi!

August 2023: Is there a doctor in the house?! Dr. Michelle Herrera defended her dissertation! Congrats, Dr. Herrera. She conducted quite the dissertation on digestion, metabolism and the microbiome of fishes. She is the fourth PhD out of the lab. Then, we got two papers accepted! Daniel Rankins is Lead author on a snazzy new paper that shows that L. sagitta cannot digest algae like its better-studied intertidal relatives. That paper includes Dr. Michelle Herrera, Newton Hood, and Dr. Joseph Heras. Then, we have a paper showing that the genome of the stichaeid fish, Anoplarchus purpurescens, reflects its carnivous dietary habits! That includes Dr. Herrera, Dr. Heras, and two colleagues from Soka University. See our publications page. Finally, K. Clerre Rafanan (CSU Fullerton) wrapped up her 10 weeks in the lab as an American Physiological Society Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow. She steadfastly and expertly worked through nine different enzyme assays on C. violaceus guts, examining how they responded to laboratory diets. She will present her work at the APS meeting in April 2024. Way to go, Clerre! 

April 2023: Matea Djokic cleaned up this month, winning a Society for Freshwater Science Graduate Student Conservation Award, and a Southern California Academy of Sciences Research Award. Way to go, Matea! Michelle Herrera and I presented posters at the American Physiological Society Summit. We need to bring more comparative physiology to the biomedical world. Welcome to new undergraduate researchers Tatum Osborne, Shannon Stolaruk, and Pearl Choi! Undergraduate training is a big part of our mission and creates a life-long love for research. As part of this, we will be hosting Kirsten Clerre Rafanan from Santiago Canyon College this summer! Clerre won an American Physiological Society Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and will be with us for 10 weeks! Welcome to Clerre.  

March 2023: Three students advanced to candidacy this week: Nefertiti Smith Christman, Newton Hood, and Matea Djokic are all now PhD Candidates! Passing your advancement exam is one of the great challenges of earning a PhD and they all did amazing! Congrats to all!

February 2023: Congrats to Michelle Herrera on winning a travel award for the American Physiological Society Summit happening in April!

January 2023: Congrats to Matea Djokic on winning a SICB GIAR! This is excellent news to start the year! A huge congratulations to Dr. Beck Wehrle on getting his review of reptilian digestive efficiency accepted in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A! This is an amazing feat.See our publications page.    
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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