Delta Science Fellowship

California Sea Grant

Grant amount: Up to US $99,000

Anticipated deadline: Aug 31, 2019 4:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Postdoctoral Researcher PhD Student

Funding uses: Fellowship

Location of project: Counties in California: Contra Costa County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, Solano County, Yolo County

Location of residency: United States

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The 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.

Delta Science Fellows 2017 Priority Research Topics are as follows:

  • Assessing the effects of extreme events (e.g., drought, flood, seismic events) on the Delta
    • Investigate effects of extreme event-induced changes in attributes of the Delta, including flow, impacts on species habitat, food web dynamics, species survival, and migration patterns. 
    • Using physical, chemical, and biological data, advance both conceptual and computational models that assess and integrate effects of changes in flow, fish entrainment at water export facilities, water quality, food web dynamics, contaminants, and habitat on juvenile fish.
    • Investigate the physiological effects of extreme events on native and non-native fish species. 
  • Effectiveness and implications of habitat restoration actions
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of wetland habitat restoration of subsided Delta islands including subsidence reversal, carbon sequestration, and water quality.
    • Assess the effectiveness of Delta habitat restoration on food web dynamics, fish condition, and survival.
    • Synthesize information from existing support tools and data bases to provide an overview of current approaches to habitat restoration at a regional scale.
  • Life histories, habitat requirements, and food webs of Delta estuarine and migratory species in a changing landscape
    • Develop innovative approaches for describing, determining, and predicting abundance, survival, and temporal and spatial distribution of estuarine and migratory species and their habitats
    • Investigate how monitoring results can be utilized for tactical forecasting and predicting impacts of water management actions on fish.
    • Investigate how changes in climate and land use affect species distribution, food web dynamics, and hydrology.
  • Science supporting the enhancement and protection of the cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta 
    • Assess invasive aquatic vegetation effects on boating, recreation, water operations, habitat, economic and natural resources (social, economic, and ecological studies). 
    • Identify infrastructure sectors where improvements would most efficiently advance a sustainable, resilient Delta economy.
    • Investigate effects of changing climate patterns and/or understudied faults east of the coastal ranges on seismic activity, flood risk, or disaster perception and preparedness within the Delta.
    • Assess economic and environmental sustainability and viability of consolidated islands (polders), expanded waterways, or setback levees. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To be eligible research teams must include a community mentor, usually an agency scientist, who has direct experience in the collection of the data to be analyzed and how the science may contribute to management issues or fundamental understanding of the Delta system. 
  • Fellowship applicants must include a letter of support from the research mentor they plan to work with on the proposed effort.
  • Research mentors must be
    • scientists actively engaged in environmental science, social studies, policy, or economics as the primary focus of their position
    • with a publication record in peer-reviewed scientific journals
    • for those working at academic institutions, employed at the tenure-track level of Assistant Professor or higher
    • Academics holding non-teaching, research faculty positions and/or those permitted by their institution to serve as principal investigators on grants are also eligible to be research mentors.
  • Applicants for the pre-doctoral fellowship should be working with a research mentor from the academic institution at which (s)he is enrolled.
  • Applicants for the postdoctoral fellowship may work with mentors from any academic or research institution.
  • In addition to working with research mentors, fellows are required to collaborate with at least one community mentor(s) familiar with existing data and resource issues central to the proposed research.
    • Community mentors must be people with scientific training. 
    • Please contact Nir Oksenberg (, 916.445.0715) for additional information regarding potential community mentors.
  • Pre-doctoral (Graduate Doctoral) Fellowships
    • Prospective Pre-doctoral Science Fellows must at the time of application be in or have recently been admitted to a Ph.D. degree program in natural resources, environmental sciences, environmental policy and management, engineering, social sciences, or coastal, aquatic or related sciences at any accredited U.S. institution of higher education.
    • Candidates must remain associated with an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning for the duration of the award.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships
    • Prospective Postdoctoral Science Fellows must hold a Ph.D. or complete a Ph.D. before the starting date of the fellowship, in a Doctoral degree program in the environmental sciences, engineering, social sciences, or in a related field appropriate for disciplines identified under “Fellowship Opportunities.”
    • Any postdoctoral researcher may apply who is associated with an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning for the duration of the grant.


  • Postdoctoral fellowships will not be awarded unless and until the prospective fellow has fully completed the Ph.D. degree.