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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 pre-doctoral students and post-graduate researchers with Bay-Delta agency scientists and senior research mentors in order to address high priority science actions important to managing the Bay-Delta system.


Including the Class of 2015, the Delta Science Program and recent partners (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS], NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL], National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center [NOAA NMFS SWFSC], and State and Federal Contractors Water Agency [SFWCA]) have funded 78 Fellows, totaling over $10 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.


The deadline for applications for the 2017 Science Fellowship Program was September 23, 2016. Click here for more information.


For more information about the Delta Science Fellows Program, please email Nir Oksenberg at


The 2015 Fellows Program

The Delta Science Program and funding partners NOAA NMFS and SFCWA, in conjunction with the California Sea Grant, awarded 12 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 its expected contribution to the high impact science actions. These included:


  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


A total of $1,580,561 was awarded to the following 12 recipients:

The 2015 Delta Science Fellowship awardees are:

Postdoctoral Fellows
Fellow Topic Lead Institutions Community Mentor Funding Agency Funding Amount
Julie Hopper The effectiveness of a water hyacinth weevil as a biological control agent of the invasive water hyacinth. UC Berkeley & UC Davis USDA/ARS/WRRC, Department of
Water Resources, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy
DSP $197,903.00
Ivy Huang Sediment dynamics during (and after) the drought in the Delta.

Stanford University

USGS -  California Water Science Center DSP $180,190.00
Joseph Smith The effect of drought on the distribution and movement of a non-native predator (striped bass). University of Washington NOAA Fisheries DSP and NOAA NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center $188,243.00


Doctoral Students
Fellow Topic Lead Institutions Community Mentor Funding Agency Funding Amount
Huajin (Jessica) Chen Modeling pesticide fluxes in the Delta and exploring the effects of pesticide loadings on three insects introduced for invasive weed control. UC Davis NASA Ames DSP $103,867.00
Brittany Davis The impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change and salinity, on the physiological performance and predator-prey dynamics in native and non-native Delta fishes. UC Davis CA Department of Water Resources & CA Department of Fish & Wildlife DSP $106,819.00
Denise DeCarion The ecological functions of tidal marsh for estuarine and migratory fishes in the Suisun Marsh. UC Davis CA Department of Water Resources DSP $116,138.00
Marissa Giroux The effects of early hypersaline acclimation due to climate change on the toxicity of pyrethroid, an insecticide, in salmonids. UC Riverside USGS & Department of Pesticide Regulation SFCWA $129,594.00
Jennifer Harfmann The effect of particulate organic carbon composition on zooplankton growth in tidal wetlands. UC Davis USGS DSP $104,605.00
Kyle Hemes Annual greenhouse gas fluxes in drained and restored wetlands in the Delta, to determine the potential net benefit of wetland restoration. UC Berkeley CA Department of Water Resources & HydroFocus DSP $114,909.00
Megan Kelso The effects of drought and elevated nutrients on invasion by perennial pepperweed and implications for carbon storage in tidal wetlands. UC Davis USGS -  California Water Science Center, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy DSP $104,444.00
Sophie Taddeo Developing a methodological framework to assess the effectiveness of previous restoration efforts to inform future restoration planning. UC Berkeley San Francisco Estuary Institute DSP $131,938.00
Alison Whipple Spatio-temporal variation of floodplain habitat for restoration management. UC Davis & UC Merced The Nature Conservancy DSP $101,911.00
TOTAL         $1,580,561.00


To view more in-depth descriptions 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)