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Delta Science Fellows Program

The goal of the Delta Science Fellows Program is to bring together junior scientists with Delta agency scientists and senior research mentors to work collaboratively on data analysis and research projects relevant to Delta policy and management. Since 2003, the Delta Science Fellows Program has paired graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with Bay-Delta agency scientists and senior research mentors in order to address research priorities and pressing science questions of the Bay-Delta system. Including the Class of 2013, the Science Program has funded 68 Fellows projects, totaling over $9 million dollars. The goal of funding this research is to invest in knowledge that will advance the understanding of the complex environments and systems within the Bay-Delta to aid policymakers and managers, and to train the next generation of research scientists for water issues in California.


NEW FOR 2015 – The Delta Science Program and California Sea Grant have teamed up once again to offer a combined total of approximately six (6) postdoctoral and graduate fellowships that address high priority research topics of importance to the Bay-Delta system:

  1. Assessing the effects of drought on the Delta
  2. Effectiveness and implications of habitat restoration actions
  3. Develop decision support tools for management of estuarine and migratory species
  4. Science supporting the enhancement and protection of the cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta

APPLICATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 18, 2015, 4:00 p.m. PST. For more information about the 2015 solicitation, click here:


The 2013 Fellows Program

The Delta Science Program, in conjunction with the California Sea Grant, awarded ten Fellowships to outstanding candidates to pursue research on a variety of topics relevant to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Fellowships were awarded based on the intellectual merit of the application and the expected contribution to the priority issues in implementing the Delta Plan:

  1. Provide a More Reliable Water Supply for California
  2. Protect, Restore and Enhance the Delta Ecosystem
  3. Protect and Enhance the Unique Cultural, Recreational, Natural Resources and Agricultural Values of the California Delta as an Evolving Place
  4. Improve Water Quality to Protect Human Health and Environment
  5. Reduce Risk to People, Property and State Interests in the Delta

Additional funding was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the California Department of Water Resources which allowed the program to double the number of awards.

In 2013, a total of $1,363,067 was awarded to the following 10 recipients:

Postdoctoral Fellows
Fellow Topic Lead Institution* Community Mentor* Funding Agency* Funding Amount
Erin Bray Will study gravel bars in rivers to identify what features facilitate groundwater exchanges that create good Chinook salmon spawning habitat UC Santa Barbara USBR DSC/DSP $153,400
Anna Sturrock Will examine links between the early life histories of Central Valley Chinook salmon and their chances of surviving to adulthood UC Berkeley DFW DSC/DSP $135,500
Ken Jeffries Will determine the thermal tolerances of longfin smelt and inland silverside and develop biomarkers of thermal stress using new genomics technology UC Davis DWR DSC/DSP $147,000
Elizabeth Wells Will investigate effects of climate change on survival, growth, and feeding rate of the invasive overbite and Asian clams UC Davis USGS DSC/DSP $138,000
Quinfang Wu Will deploy a fleet of floating robots (“smart drifters”) into the Liberty Island wetland to study how water currents and wetland geomorphology affect phytoplankton abundances and transport UC Berkeley USGS USFWS
Priyanka Sharma Will use synthetic aperture radar data to monitor levee conditions and subsidence in the Delta JPL DWR JPL $139,096
Cedric Fichot Will use hyperspectral remote-sensing reflectance data to map, and study the dynamics of methylmercury in the Bay-Delta JPL USGS JPL $169,376
TOTAL $1,059,735

To view more in-depth elaborations of the topics listed above, please click here.

Doctoral Students
Fellow Topic Lead Institution* Community Mentor* Funding Agency* Funding Amount
Rachel Wigginton Will examine the effects of perennial pepper weed on tidal marsh ecosystems and look for strategies to stop the noxious weed’s spread UC Davis USDA DSC/DSP $ 92,200
Katherine Smith Will study the basic ecology of the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse to better protect and enhance habitat for the mouse as well as for the other species that utilize the same habitat UC Davis DFW USFWS $116,705
Ali Shafiee Will study the seismic response of peaty organic soils beneath Delta levees to improve seismic hazard assessments UCLA Curt Schmutte, Consultant DWR $ 94,427
TOTAL $303,332

To view more in-depth elaborations of the topics listed above, please click here.

Previous Delta Science Fellows:

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)