“With the update of the Delta science plan done, we can now can sink our teeth into some topical issues our scientists can be passionate about, such as aquatic invasive vegetation, microcystis and climate change, for example,” says the former Department of Water Resources (DWR) fish biologist. Conrad grew up in Philadelphia and developed an interest in conservation on family road trips to western national parks. She is pleased to be part of an agency with so many women in leadership positions and with such a broad mandate. At DWR, she says, legal mandates required them to focus on water project operations and specific endangered fish. But at the council, she sees opportunities to examine whole communities of species or delve into social sciences. “We’re a young agency that has been defining itself for 10 years, and our scope gives us a chance to take on bigger topics or issues with longer timescales,” she says, excitement in her voice. Asked how she might tackle the need for more coordinated monitoring up and down the San Francisco Estuary, she acknowledged the challenge. “The monitoring communities are different in Red Bluff from those for Liberty Island or the South Bay. Creating a more congealed monitoring system for the [entire estuary watershed] is going to require people working at the landscape scale, and as bridges between scientific communities. I’m only two or three months into this job, but I know there is a role for the council’s science program to play in all this.”

Pearls in the ocean of information that our reporters didn’t want you to miss
 

Louise Conrad sees the Delta Stewardship Council’s science program, which she now leads, as poised to shift into a new gear – from breaking down the science landscape and building a new foundation for Delta science to actually doing it.

 “With the update of the Delta science plan done, we can now can sink our teeth into some topical issues our scientists can be passionate about, such as aquatic invasive vegetation, microcystis and climate change, for example,” says the former Department of Water Resources (DWR) fish biologist. Conrad grew up in Philadelphia and developed an interest in conservation on family road trips to western national parks. She is pleased to be part of an agency with so many women in leadership positions and with such a broad mandate. At DWR, she says, legal mandates required them to focus on water project operations and specific endangered fish. But at the council, she sees opportunities to examine whole communities of species or delve into social sciences. “We’re a young agency that has been defining itself for 10 years, and our scope gives us a chance to take on bigger topics or issues with longer timescales,” she says, excitement in her voice. Asked how she might tackle the need for more coordinated monitoring up and down the San Francisco Estuary, she acknowledged the challenge. “The monitoring communities are different in Red Bluff from those for Liberty Island or the South Bay. Creating a more congealed monitoring system for the [entire estuary watershed] is going to require people working at the landscape scale, and as bridges between scientific communities. I’m only two or three months into this job, but I know there is a role for the council’s science program to play in all this.”

About the author

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto is both today’s editor-in-chief and the founding editor of ESTUARY magazine (1992-2001). She enjoys writing in-depth, silo-crossing stories about water, restoration, and science. She’s a co-author of a Natural History of San Francisco Bay (UC Press 2011), frequent contributor of climate change stories to Bay Nature magazine, and occasional essayist for publications like the San Francisco Chronicle. In other lives, she has been a vintner, soccer mom, and waitress. She lives in San Francisco close to the Bay with her architect husband Paul Okamoto.