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.

The 2013 Fellows Program

The Delta Science Program in conjunction with 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
DSC/DSP
$177,363
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
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

*USBR = United States Bureau of Reclamation
USGS = United States Geological Survey
USDA = United States Department of Agriculture
DSC/DSP = Delta Stewardship Council/Delta Science Program
DWR = California Department of Water Resources
DFW = California Department of Fish and Wildlife
JPL = NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Previous Fellows Classes

Abstracts, progress reports and final reports by Delta Science Fellows can be found on the following webpages. Please follow the link for the appropriate Fellows class provided below.