Delta Science Fellowship

Fellowship Type: Research

The Delta Science Fellows Program (previously known as the CALFED Science Fellows Program) was established to bring together graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with Bay-Delta agency scientists and senior research mentors. Fellows work on collaborative data analysis and research projects applicable to the California Bay-Delta system. The goal of funding this research is to invest in knowledge that will fundamentally advance the understanding of the complex environments and systems within the Bay-Delta system to aid policy-makers and managers, and to train the next generation of research scientists for water issues in California. California Sea Grant administers and manages the fellowship program on behalf of the Delta Stewardship Council - Delta Science Program.

NOW OPEN: Request for Applications for Delta Science Fellowship 

Priority Topic Areas
Articles About Previous Delta Science Fellows



Delta Stewardship Council

On February 3, 2010, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 took effect creating the new Delta Stewardship Council (Council) as an independent state agency with the mission to achieve the coequal goals. As stated in the CA Water Code section 85054, “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.” Under the same legislation, the CALFED Science Program became the Delta Science Program, and the CALFED Independent Science Board became the Delta Independent Science Board, both reporting to the Council.

Delta Science Program

The long-term goal of the Delta Science Program (Science Program) is to establish a body of knowledge relevant to the Sacramento/San Joaquin Bay-Delta (Delta) actions toward meeting the co-equal goals of Delta ecosystem and water supply reliability. That body of knowledge must be unbiased, relevant, authoritative, integrated across program elements, and communicated to the scientific community, agency managers, stakeholders, and the public. The mission of the Science Program is to provide the best possible unbiased scientific information to inform water and environmental decision-making in the Delta. The mission shall be carried out through funding research, synthesizing and communicating scientific information to policymakers and decision-makers, promoting independent scientific peer review, and coordinating with Delta agencies to promote science-based adaptive management. As part of the Council, the Science Program shall assist with development and periodic updates of the Delta Plan’s adaptive management program.

Delta Science Fellows Program

Since 2003, the Science Program and the California Sea Grant College Program have sponsored a fellows program for predoctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. The aim of the program is to bring together junior scientists with Delta agency scientists and senior research mentors in collaborative data analysis and research projects relevant to Delta policy and management, including analyses of the immense monitoring database collected and maintained by the implementing agencies. The Science Program is seeking applications from qualified individuals to compete for fellowship opportunities in 2015. California Sea Grant will administer and manage the fellowship program on behalf of the Science Program. Fellowships will be awarded based on the intellectual merit of the application and the expected contribution to the priority issues in implementing the Delta Plan.


The goals of the Delta Science Fellows Program are to:

  1. Engage highly qualified scientific talent to help advance the state of scientific knowledge on the Delta Plan policy areas and high priority science actions identified by the Delta Agency Science Workgroup and other groups;
  2. Provide support for the training and development of scientists able to work in multidisciplinary, field-oriented and modeling-based research intended to support resource management in the Delta; and
  3. Promote scientific partnerships across agencies, research institutions, and non-profit organizations.


The fellowship will provide up to two years of support based on scope/type of projects and contingent upon the availability of funds, for both postdoctoral and predoctoral fellows in the form of a grant/award that includes funds for a stipend and for research-related expenses. 

Priority Topic Areas

For 2017, the Delta Science Fellows Program is encouraging the submission of research proposals that address one or more of the priority research topics, including high impact science actions identified by the Delta Agency Science Workgroup and others. 

Delta Plan Policy Areas

  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 resources, and agricultural values of the Delta

Guiding Documents

Research topics need to address the science needs identified in the Delta Agency Science Working Group, Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee, and others.

Research Mentors

Fellowship applicants must include a letter of support from the research mentor(s) they plan to work with on this effort. Research mentors must be scientists actively engaged in environmental science, social studies, policy and economics as the primary focus of their position, with a publication record in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and, for those working at academic institutions, working at the level of Assistant Professor or higher (academics holding non-teaching, research faculty postions and/or those permitted by their institution to serve as principal investigators on grants are also eligible to be research mentors).

Community Mentors

In addition to working with research mentors, fellows are required to collaborate with community mentors familiar with existing data and resource issues central to the proposed research. These community mentors must be people with scientific training.

Articles About Previous Delta Science Fellows