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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 Class of 2017, 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 86 Fellows, totaling over $11.5 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


Applications for the 2018 Delta Science Fellowship program were due on September 25, 2017. The Delta Science Program is currently in the process of selecting a 2018 class of Delta Science Fellows. Awardees will be announced in early 2018.


The 2017 Fellows Program - FELLOWS VIDEOS

During the April 27, 2017 Council meeting, several Science Fellows made short verbal presentations to the Council members to communicate the value of their research as part of their early-career leadership training. Here are five highlights:



The Delta Science Program and funding partners SFCWA and USBR, in conjunction with California Sea Grant, awarded 8 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 extreme events (e.g., drought, flood, seismic events) on the Delta
  2. Effectiveness and implications of habitat restoration actions
  3. Life histories, habitat requirements, and food webs of Delta estuarine and migratory species in a changing landscape
  4. Science supporting the enhancement and protection of the cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta


A total of $1,540,666 was awarded to the following eight 2017 Delta Science Fellowship awardees:


Postdoctoral Fellows
Fellow Name Project Title Lead Institute Community Mentor Agency Funding Agency Funding Amount

Joseph Fackrell

Source characterization and biogeochemical consequences of wastewater and agricultural C, N, and P inputs to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. UC Santa Cruz US Geological Survey DSC $219,420
Michelle Jungbluth Revealing the invisible contributors to the diets of larval longfin smelt and striped bass in the San Francisco Estuary.

SF State University

US Geological Survey


Shannon Klotsko Defining the architecture and recurrence interval for faults in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Assessing potential geohazards. San Diego State University US Geological Survey DSC $219,310
Pedro Morais Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon life history diversity, growth, and habitat use among varying hydroclimatic regimes. UC Berkeley NOAA NMFS SWFSC DSC $259,289
Neil Thompson Evaluating contributions of hatchery-origin fish to conservation of endangered Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon during a drought. UC Santa Cruz US Bureau of Reclamation USBR $171,666
Malte Willmes In search of refuge: Investigating the thermal life history of Delta Smelt through in-situ oxygen isotope ratio analysis of otoliths. UC Davis CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Water Resources, & US Geological Survey DSC $216,172


Doctoral Students
Fellow Name Project Title Lead Institute Community Mentor Agency Funding Agency Funding Amount
Pam Rittelmeyer Perceptions of Risk and Management of the Delta Levee System. UC Santa Cruz CA Department of Water Resources DSC $131,921
Jessica Rudnick Managing Agricultural Soils for Carbon and Water Benefits in the California Delta: Understanding Influences on Decision-Making and Practice Adoption of in-Delta Farmers. UC Davis UC Agriculture and Natural Resources & Contra Costa Resource Conservation District DSC $103,616
TOTAL         $1,540,666


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)