2008 Request for Applications - Science Fellows Program

CALFED Science Fellows Program

CALFED Science Program and Calfornia Sea Grant College Program




CALFED Bay-Delta Program (CALFED) (top)

CALFED is a collaborative effort of more than 25 state and federal agencies (Appendix A) with management and regulatory responsibilities for California’s San Francisco Bay Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta System and has four main objectives:

  1. Improve Ecosystem Quality
  2. Improve Water Supply Reliability
  3. Improve Water Quality
  4. Improve Levee System Integrity

The mission of the CALFED Program is to develop and implement a long-term comprehensive plan that will restore ecological health and improve water management for beneficial uses of the Bay-Delta System.

CALFED Science Program (top)

The CALFED Science Program brings high-quality peer-reviewed science to all of the CALFED program elements to help achieve the objectives stated above. The long-term goal of the Science Program is to establish a body of knowledge relevant to CALFED actions and their implications. That body of knowledge, both in perception and reality, must be unbiased, relevant, authoritative, integrated across program elements and communicated to the scientific community, CALFED agency managers, stakeholders  and the public.

The Science Program is emphasizing partnerships among existing institutions as a strategy for bringing highly qualified scientific expertise into all CALFED Programs. The Science Program currently has a close working relationship with a number of universities and nonprofit organizations in addition to scientists working in the CALFED member agencies.

For additional information about the program see http://www.calwater.ca.gov/index.aspx and http://www.science.calwater.ca.gov/science_index.html.

CALFED Science Fellows Program (top)

The CALFED Science Program and the California Sea Grant College Program developed a fellows program for predoctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. The aim of the program is to bring together junior scientists with CALFED Program agency scientists and senior research mentors in collaborative data analysis and research projects relevant to ecosystem management and water-supply reliability questions, 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 2008. California Sea Grant will administer and manage the fellowship program on behalf of the Science Program. Fellowships will be awarded addressing the priority issues identified for 2008 (Appendix A).


The goals of the CALFED Science Fellows Program are to:

  1. bring highly qualified scientific talent to help advance the state of scientific knowledge on ecosystems and river systems in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay;
  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 Bay-Delta System; and
  3. promote scientific partnerships across agencies, research institutions and nonprofit organizations.

The approved research teams will ideally include an agency scientist who has direct experience in the collection of the data to be analyzed. During the fellowships, the fellow, agency scientist and research mentor will collaborate on the approved project; provide updated information, progress information and any drafts or published material. The research mentor will be in charge of the project, providing broad oversight and first-level peer review.

Fellowship Opportunities (top)

To achieve these goals, the CALFED Science Program will sponsor up to 12 fellowships in 2008 for predoctoral students (approximately 4–6 fellowships) and postdoctoral researchers (approximately 4–6) in all disciplines of environmental science addressing the 2008 priority topics and/or targeted research questions identified by the implementing CALFED agencies (Appendix A).


Award (top)

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. Once the funds are awarded by California Sea Grant through a cooperative agreement with the CALFED Science Program, the fellow’s stipend and research-related expenses will be administered by the university, college or research institution with which the fellow and/or research mentors are affiliated.

Postdoctoral fellows will receive a $45,000 per year stipend and predoctoral fellows will receive a $25,000 per year stipend, for a maximum duration of two years. In addition, each fellow may request funds (up to $30,000 for postdoctoral fellows and $19,500 for predoctoral fellows) for research supplies/equipment and travel expenses necessary to carry out the proposed research and attend scientific meetings, including the annual CALFED Science Conference (see “Communication of Information”).

The funds for research-related costs and benefits are subject to an indirect cost rate of 25%, in accordance with rates determined/set by the cooperative agreement between the CALFED Science Program and California Sea Grant. The maximum amount requested for the stipend and research and/or education-related expenses (including tuition or health benefits) should not exceed $82,500/yr for postdoctoral fellows and $49,375/yr for predoctoral fellows, including indirect costs on the research portion of the award.

For predoctoral fellows, the portion of the award provided to each fellow for tuition (unless waived), health insurance and other university fees will be determined by each university in accordance with its guidelines. The portion of the award for living expenses will be distributed as a monthly stipend, not as salaries, wages and benefits, by the academic or research institution affiliated with the fellow.

Continued support after the first year will be contingent on satisfactory performance of the fellow and on the availability of funds.

2008 Priority Topic Areas (top)

For 2008, the CALFED Science Fellows Program is encouraging the submission of research proposals that address one or more of the four priority topic areas.  Research questions under each topic (identified by CALFED implementing agencies) are intended to provide general guidelines for the research proposals.

Priority Topic Areas

  1. Trends and Patterns of Habitats, Populations and System Response to a Changing Environment
  2. Aquatic Invasive (Exotic) Species
  3. Water Supply, Water Quality
  4. Developing Indicators and Performance Measures

The priority topic areas, general description and types of questions (with agency contacts) that should be addressed are fully described within Appendix A CALFED Science Fellows Priority Topic Areas and Research Questions.

Research Mentors (top)

Fellowship applicants must include a letter of support from the research mentor they plan to work with on this effort. Research mentors must be scientists actively engaged in environmental science as the primary focus of their position, with a publication record in peer-reviewed journals and, for those affiliated with academic institutions, working at least at the level of an assistant professor.

Scientists currently involved in CALFED are eligible to be research mentors, but university mentors’ eligibility is not limited to scientists presently involved with CALFED.

Applicants for the predoctoral fellowship should be working with a research mentor in the academic institution in which they are enrolled. Applicants for the postdoctoral fellowship may work with mentors from any academic or research institution.

CALFED Community Mentors (top)

In addition to working with research mentors, fellows are expected to collaborate with mentors familiar with existing data and resource issues central to the proposed research. These mentors must be people with scientific training. Current involvement with the CALFED program is preferred. Mentors may be agency scientists (who are interested in analyzing, interpreting and/or expanding data not currently published in peer-reviewed journals), restoration program managers and technical staff in environmental organizations or stakeholder associations. In many cases, people involved in generating existing data will be the most appropriate community mentors.

Fellows will work closely with community mentors, sharing ideas and progress throughout the project. If community mentors do not have enough time to work closely with fellows, fellows must develop a plan to communicate their findings and request feedback on a regular basis to an appropriate technical group within the CALFED community.  Examples include the Interagency Ecological Program Estuarine Ecology Team, the Central Valley Salmonid Technical Review Team, and the California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum.

Applicants addressing one of the priority topic areas must suggest at least one proposed community mentor and a plan for collaboration in their application.

Please contact Matt Nobriga (Matthew.Nobriga@calwater.ca.gov or 916.445.0479) for additional information regarding potential community mentors.

Communication of Information (top)


Fellows will be required to present the results of their research at a CALFED or State of the Estuary/CALFED Science Conference, either as a poster or oral presentation. The conferences are held each year in October in either Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay area. Fellows should include a travel budget for the conference in their application. Fellows are also encouraged to present their research at other national and international professional meetings.

In addition, fellows may be asked to give a limited number of briefings to CALFED technical groups or agency managers in Sacramento, California. In these cases, California Sea Grant will fund additional travel costs if needed.


Each fellow must prepare an annual progress report to be submitted to the California Sea Grant office, deliverable to the CALFED Science Program. The progress report will detail the grantee’s research activities, provide retrospective and prospective revision of the research plan, and report expenditures for the preceding year (using the annual expense report form). Additionally, a copy of any poster/other professional submissions to that year’s science conference or journals will be required at the end of each year.


Each fellow must produce and submit to the California Sea Grant office a final research report, deliverable to the CALFED Science Program, at the end of the respective fellowship-agreement period. The final report will summarize results and accomplishments of the research project, including all publications since the fellowship’s inception.


Eligibility (top)


Prospective predoctoral 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, coastal, aquatic or related studies 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 grant.


Prospective postdoctoral fellows must hold a Ph.D. or complete a Ph.D. before the starting date of the fellowship, in a Doctoral degree program in environmental 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.

The fellowships will be awarded in a competitive process to highly qualified researchers engaged in field- or modeling-based research. Particularly appropriate are prospective fellows who are interested in a career in multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, field-or modeling-based research in riverine and estuarine systems.

Selection Criteria (top)

The selection criteria will include:

  1. The research mentor’s demonstrated abilities in the general area of questions addressed by the proposal.
  2. The strength of academic performance and relevant academic achievement and quality of applicant’s career goal statement and narrative summary of experience.
  3. The quality of the research proposal including appropriateness of approach to be used.
  4. The importance of the problem to CALFED priorities and mission and the proposed interaction with CALFED agency scientists.

Selection Procedure (top)

Selection is competitive. Applications must be submitted to the California Sea Grant College Program office no later than June 6, 2008. A review panel consisting of CALFED scientists, program staff, community advisors and California Sea Grant representatives will be convened in July to review and recommend selection of finalists, using the criteria outlined above, to the CALFED Lead Scientist. We anticipate awarding approximately 4–6 postdoctoral fellowships and 4–6 predoctoral fellowships for 2008. All applicants will be notified of the selection decision in August.

Timetable (top)

June 6, 2008 (5 pm) - Applications due at California Sea Grant College Program
August 8, 2008 (approximate) - Applicants notified of selection results
September 1, 2008 (approximate) - Funds awarded for selected CALFED predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships

Application (top)

Application Sections:

1) Signed Cover Page: Please provide all information and obtain the required signatures on the CALFED Cover Sheet.

2) Proposed Research (12-page limit, not including literature citations):

The proposed research text should be in at least a 10-point font, single-spaced. Any tables, figures and illustrations must be submitted as tiffs or PDFs on separate pages and will be counted in the 12-page limit. Do not incorporate these into the body of the text.

  1. Introduction/ Question/ Objectives: What is the question/problem being addressed? What are the goals and objectives of the proposed research? The objective(s) should be well defined and clearly stated.
  2. Approach/Plan of Work: What is the anticipated approach of the proposed research? The application should present evidence that there has been thoughtful consideration of the approach to the question under study, with a timeline for meeting objectives during the requested period of support.
  3. Output/Anticipated Products and/or Benefits: Upon commencement of the fellowship, what are the anticipated benefits to the fellow, the research mentor, community mentor(s) and to the CALFED priorities and mission? What can be expected after year 1, or year 2.  Please describe anticipated yearly outcomes.
  4. References and Literature Citations: Should be included but will not be counted in the 12-page limit for the proposed research.

3) Budget and Budget Justification: There should be a separate budget for each year as well as a cumulative budget for the entire period of the proposed fellowship. Applicants are encouraged to use the California Sea Grant CALFED Budget Form, available for download from the California Sea Grant CALFED Science Fellowship web page. Applicants may also use their own form as long as it provides the same information as the California Sea Grant budget form. The budget justification page should itemize all budget items in sufficient detail to enable reviewers to evaluate the appropriateness of the research-related funds being requested.

For any questions regarding your budget, please contact Catherine Hughes, c4hughes@ucsd.edu or by telephone 858-534-0577

4) Explanation of how Research Links to the CALFED Program (1 page limit): A “back of the envelope” conceptual model that shows the links between the issue(s) being researched and a CALFED action/set of actions.

5) Personal Statement that describes how this research fits into career plans and summarizes experiences that specifically prepared the applicant for this research task (not to exceed two pages).

6) Curriculum Vitae of the Applicant (predoctoral student or postdoctoral researcher).

7) Plan for Collaborating with Community Mentor(s) (1–2 pages): If a community mentor is not identified the appropriate CALFED agency should be identified and a plan presented that addresses how the fellow and mentor(s) could work with a third person in that agency. However, it is strongly suggested that at least one community mentor be identified. Letters of support from community mentor(s) should be included but are not required if a specific community mentor is not identified. Note that the presence or absence of a community mentor will not be a determining factor for the selection of fellows, but is an important aspect of showing collaboration with agencies and stakeholders.

8) Project Summary: The project summary presents a concise description of the proposed research in a form useful to a variety of readers not requiring detailed information. Applicants are encouraged to use the CALFED Project Summary Form but if using their own, it should be completed within the two-page limit, providing the same information requested in the California Sea Grant form.

9) Letter of Commitment from Prospective Research Mentor, indicating a willingness to be a mentor for the applicant, and expressing support of the proposed research project (not to exceed two pages).

10) Curriculum Vitae of the Prospective Research Mentor

11) Copies of Graduate and Undergraduate Transcripts (undergraduate transcripts are required from predoctoral fellowship applicants only).

12) Three Signed Letters of Academic Recommendation

How to Submit (top)

Please upload an electronic copy of all application items, with required signatures. The electronic version of your application must be submitted as PDFs using the California Sea Grant CALFED submission link:


Please make sure to include your last name in the files names for each section of the proposal (e.g., Smith_budget.pdf or Smith_cv.pdf). Once submitted through the website, PDFs may not be edited. To change a PDF, it must be deleted and resubmitted.

IMPORTANT: Contact us at CALFEDfellow@seamail.ucsd.edu to obtain a password to use the website link BEFORE submitting any files.

IMPORTANT: To preserve confidentiality, letters of recommendations could be posted directly by the letter writers. Please share the login information you receive with your letter writers to enable them to post their letters. Letters of recommendations cannot be viewed, edited, or deleted by any applicant once posted.

For electronic files larger than 6 MB, contact CALFEDfellow@seamail.ucsd.edu
to make other arrangements.

Information Contact (top)

Information about the CALFED predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships (excluding budget and submission questons) may be obtained from:

Shauna Oh
Associate Director
(858) 534-4440
e-mail: CALFEDfellow@seamail.ucsd.edu

Please direct budget questions to:

Catherine Hughes
Business Officer
(858) 534-0577

Please direct online submission questions to:

Roberto Chavez
(858) 534-4441