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Delta Science Fellows Program

The goal of the Delta Science Fellows Program is to bring together pre-doctoral students or post-doctoral researchers with Delta agency scientists, engineers, or managers and senior academic mentors to work collaboratively on data synthesis and research projects to address topics outlined in the 2017 Science Action Agenda.

Starting in 2003, and including the current Class of 2018, the Delta Science Program and 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], State and Federal Contractors Water Agency [SFCWA], and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation [USBR]) have funded 95 Fellows, totaling $13 million dollars.


The goal of funding this high-priority 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.


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


The Delta Science Program is not currently accepting applications for the Delta Science Fellows Program. Current plans are to run a solicitation in the summer of 2019.


The 2018 Fellows Program

The Delta Science Program and funding partner the State Water Contractors, in conjunction with California Sea Grant, awarded 9 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 Science Action Agenda Priority Science Actions. These include:


  1. Invest in assessing the human dimensions of natural resource management decisions
  2. Capitalize on existing data through increasing science synthesis

  3. Develop tools and methods to support and evaluate habitat restoration

  4. Improve understanding of interactions between stressors and managed species and their communities

  5. Modernize monitoring, data management, and modeling 

A total of $1,589,126 was awarded to the following nine 2018 Delta Science Fellowship awardees:


Doctoral Fellow Project Title Research Mentor Community Mentor Funding Amount
Tyler Anthony Soil type as a driver of agricultural climate change response in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Whendee Silver
UC Berkeley
Steven Deverel
HydroFocus, Inc
Stefanie Helmrich Simulating methylmercury production and transport at the sediment-water interface to improve the water quality in the Delta Peggy O'Day
UC Merced
Charles Alpers
US Geological Survey
Megan Sabal Habitat, hatcheries, and nonnative predators interact to affect juvenile salmon behavior and survival Erik Palkovacs
UC Santa Cruz
Steven Lindley
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Pedro Alejandro
Triana Garcia
Effects of copper exposure on the olfactory response of Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus): Investigating linkages between morphological and behavioral anti-predator response Swee Teh
UC Davis
Shawn Acuna
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Yuzo Yanagitsuru Effect of Temperature and Salinity on Physiological Performance and Growth of Longfin Smelt: Developing a Captive Culture for a Threatened Species in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Nann Fangue
UC Davis
Randall Baxter
CA Department of Fish and Wildlife
Postdoctoral Fellow Project Title Research Mentor Community Mentor Funding Amount
Matthew Bogard Reevaluating ecosystem functioning and carbon storage potential of a coastal wetland through integration of lateral and vertical carbon flux estimates David Butman
U of Washington
Lisamarie Windham-Myers
US Geological Survey
Alexis Fischer Do light, nutrient, and salinity interactions drive the “bad Suisun” phenomenon? A physiological assessment of biological hotspots in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Raphael Kudela
UC Santa Cruz
James Cloern & David SennUS Geological Survey & San Francisco Estuarine Institute $202,222
Levi Lewis Defining habitat quality for young-of-year Longfin Smelt: historical otolith-based reconstructions of growth and salinity history in relation to geography, climate, and outflow James Hobbs
UC Davis
Randall Baxter
CA Department of Fish and Wildlife
Katherine Smith Investigation of the resilience of the salt marsh harvest mouse and best management practices in response to climate change Douglas Kelt
UC Davis
Laureen Barthmann-Thompson
CA Department of Fish and Wildlife


* All fellows are funded by the DSC, except Megan Sabal who is funded by the State Water Contractors Funding Total: $1,589,126


More information about the 2018 class of Delta Science Fellows

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)