Matthias Hess, Ph.D.

Photo of Matthias Hess

Position Title
Associate Professor
Hellman Fellow

2123 Meyer Hall


  • B.A., Microbial Ecology & Botany, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany – 1999.
  • M.S.,  Microbiology & Limnology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany – 2004.
  • Ph.D., Microbiology & Biotechnology, Hamburg University of Technology, Hamburg, Germany – 2007.

Previous Employments

  • 2014 – 2021: Assistant Professor; University of California, Davis, CA
  • 2011 – 2018: Adjunct Scientist; DOE Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA
  • 2011 – 2014: Assistant Professor; Washington State University, Richland, WA
  • 2011 – 2014: Senior Scientist; DOE Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
  • 2007 – 2010: Postdoctoral Fellow; DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Research Interests

Research Area 1 - Animal Health/Animal Microbiology:
Microbes play a key part in the health and productivity of animals. The long-term goal of our research is to enhance our understanding of microbe-microbe and microbe-host interaction to ensure the well-being of the host organisms. Our current main focus is the microbiome of ruminants.
Research Area 2 - Climate Change/Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling:
Microbial communities associated with agricultural systems are major sources of greenhouse gases such as N₂O and CO₂. The Hess Lab studies how microbial communities in these systems can be manipulated to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Currently we are developing strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emission from ruminants, manure, and agricultural soils.
Research Area 3 - Natural Products:
Microorganisms are a potent source of fine and bulk chemicals. In the past, discovery and reconstruction of the genes and pathways involved in the synthesis of the final product was hindered by the recalcitrance of most microbes (~95-99% of all microbes) to isolation and cultivation. In our Lab we utilize a combination of different cultivation-independent approaches (e.g. single-cell technologies, phylogenomics, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics and metametabolomics) to overcome this recalcitrance to cultivation. Recently we have been screening microbial communities from diverse ecosystems for carbohydrate and hydrocarbon active enzymes and for microbial products that have antimicrobial activity.

For a full description of the work conducted in the Hess lab, please visit the Hess Lab website

Selected Publications

 For the the full list of all publications from the Hess Lab, please visit the Lab website

Awards & Honors

  • 2021: Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship; University Honors Program; University of California, Davis, CA
  • 2016: Hellman Fellowship; University of California, Davis, CA
  • 2012-2017: Wiley Research Fellowship; Department of Energy Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Richland, WA

Graduate Groups


For a list of current and previous members of the Hess Lab, please visit the Lab website