Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) Update

During their October meeting, Delta ISB members met new member Dr. Harindra Joseph Fernando, who replaced Dr. Michael Healey. The Delta ISB also discussed what it learned at the Bay-Delta Science Conference and offered suggestions to the 2014 Bay-Delta Science Conference Organizing Committee on how to improve the next conference, which included:

  1. Make the conference integral to the Delta Science Plan now in preparation. The Plan could identify the conference as a unique venue for building a Delta science community that advances the coequal goals through the sharing of information across boundaries between disciplines and affiliations.

  2. Increase the percentage of presentations or sessions that address “grand challenges.” Presentations in this mode in the 2012 conference included overviews of BDCP, adaptive management, and the historical and potential future Delta.

  3. Begin more sessions with invited talks that introduce the session topic in a comprehensive manner that is understandable to a broad audience. One such talk led off a fish life-cycle session.

  4. Include more policy talks in sessions suitable for them, as a way of focusing the science discussions on application of the science.

  5. Expand coverage of engineering issues, especially those pertaining to levees and pipelines.

Further suggestions were included in a memo the Delta ISB sent to the organizing committee.

Outgoing Delta ISB member Dr. Jeffrey Mount who left the board in late October concurrent with his retirement from his faculty position at U.C. Davis offered reflections on his tenure at the ISB.

“We work in the most complex, interesting system in the world,” Mount said. “Managing the Delta during rapidly changing ecologic, hydrologic and climatic conditions is hard enough. But add to this the intense political climate, with its numerous and diverse actors, and you have unprecedented demands on science and the scientific community.”

He suggested that the Delta ISB should function more like a Board of Directors and aggressively advocate good science. “There is a desire in the outside community for the Delta ISB to be more forceful and active,” Mount said. He challenged the Delta ISB to “think bigger and be decisive.”

Mount was the longest serving ISB member and served under all of the lead scientists.

During its November 2 teleconference the Delta ISB discussed the logistics of its November 29, 2012 field trip to Delta habitat restoration project sites. (The field trip was subsequently cancelled due to inclement weather).