CALFED Lead Scientist

The Lead Scientist is appointed by the Resources Secretary. He advises the California Bay-Delta Authority board and works with the CALFED Science Program staff, the CALFED Independent Science Board, CALFED implementing agency scientists, and the scientific community at large to promote and coordinate the use of peer-reviewed science throughout the CALFED Program. The Lead Scientist nominates and establishes standing boards and independent review panels of experts to review the use of science in particular projects and the entire CALFED Program. The Lead Scientist identifies, refines and implements the science agenda for the CALFED Program including the awarding of competitive research grants for targeted science. An important part of the job includes developing, leading and sustaining dialogues and public discussions of technical issues among the stakeholder community, managers and scientists of implementing agencies, and academic researchers.

Clifford N. Dahm, PhD.

Lead Scientist Clifford Dahm

Dr. Clifford N. Dahm, an internationally-recognized expert in aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, climatology and restoration biology, has been appointed Lead Scientist for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.

In making the two-year appointment, Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman said, “With his broad understanding of water-related science and strong interest in linking science and policy, Cliff will provide crucial scientific leadership for the CALFED Program and the Delta. His collaborative and open style will help policy makers integrate science into Delta decision making.”

Dahm’s appointment was the result of a nationwide search and is effective July 1. He replaces Michael C. Healey, a Canadian scientist and expert on Chinook salmon.

Dahm is a professor of biology at the University of New Mexico (UNM), where he began his academic career in 1984. Dahm emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to understanding aquatic ecosystems. He leads the Hydrogeoecology Research Group at UNM, studying aquatic ecology, interactions between stream and ground water, ways nutrients cycle through ecosystems, dissolved organic carbon in streams and riverine and riparian ecology.

Dahm’s expertise is directly applicable to issues that Delta managers and the CALFED Bay-Delta Program are grappling with today. He has worked as a science advisor to the South Florida Water Management District, helping guide ecosystem restoration programs on the Kissimmee River, and has served as a peer reviewer for setting flows and levels for healthy rivers in the Tampa Bay area.

More recently, Dahm has been involved in water management and drought issues in the Southwest, addressing ammonia toxicity to fish, setting minimum flows and evaluating storage options. He also has experience managing large granting programs at the National Science Foundation.

In addition to heading the Hydrogeoecology Research group at UNM, Dahm’s current scientific leadership roles include director of the Freshwater Sciences Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program, and co-principal investigator of the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research Program. Dahm recently completed a term as president of the North American Benthological Society, the premier national and international stream and river professional society. He is a member of the Science Steering Group for the Global Water Budget Program of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Nationally and internationally recognized within his fields of research, Dahm co-authored two recent publications in “Science” and “Nature,” two of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals: one paper describing the response of streams to nitrogen from human sources and a second paper synthesizing United States river restoration efforts through the National River Restoration Science Synthesis project.

Dahm earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1972, from Boise State University. In 1974, he earned his master's degree in chemical oceanography at Oregon State University, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in oceanography and aquatic ecology in 1980.