Science Program Staff

The goal is to ensure that the best possible scientific information guides decision-making within every aspect of the program, while results of CALFED activities are closely evaluated. Providing science relevant to decision making requires two things: building a conduit between experts and managers so the most current knowledge relevant to a problem can be directly communicated, and providing an unbiased scientific review of information gathered to define and evaluate program activities. Oversight of data collection and ecosystem monitoring, along with scientific review of assumptions underlying program strategies and the effects of program actions is essential. Listed below are the Science Program Staff Members that support the Program and facilitate it's goals.



Clifford N. Dahm, Ph.D. - Lead Scientist Page
CALFED Lead Scientist,

Lauren Hastings, Ph.D.
Deputy Director for Science,

Rebecca Fris
Program Manager II,

Michelle Shouse
Special Assistant to the Lead Scientist/ USGS Coordinator,

Dusty Boeger
Science Program Webmaster,

Shemeles Ayalew
Research Analyst II/ Database Coordinator,

Jill McGee
Executive Assistant,

Laura Walker
Research Writer,

Gina Ford
Staff Environmental Scientist,

To reach a member of the Science Program staff, please contact the Science Program Administrative Assistant at 916-445-7690.


Clifford N. Dahm Ph.D.
Lead Scientist:

Dr. Clifford N. Dahm is an internationally-recognized expert in aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, climatology and restoration biology. As Lead Scientist, he 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. A professor of biology at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Cliff leads the Hydrogeoecology Research Group at UNM. He has also 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, Cliff 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.

His 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. He 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. Cliff has a PhD in oceanography and aquatic ecology from Oregon State University (OSU) as well as a master’s degree in chemical oceanography from OSU and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Boise State University.

Lauren Hastings, Ph.D.
Deputy Director for Science
: As Deputy Director, Lauren oversees implementation of the CALFED Science Program, including overall program management and working collaboratively with state and federal agencies, academic institutions, scientific experts and stakeholders to promote sound use of science within the CALFED Program. Prior to managing the Science Program, Lauren worked for the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) where she focused on incorporation of science into ERP activities. Lauren's primary interests are communicating scientific information to California Bay-Delta policy- and decision-makers, promoting science-based adaptive management, and supporting research that will fill critical gaps in our understanding of the Bay-Delta system. Prior to working for CALFED, Lauren worked for the USGS in Sacramento, managing two field research projects evaluating effects of various water- and land-management strategies on mitigating subsidence of Delta peat soils. Lauren has a PhD and MS in Soil Chemistry from UC Davis, and a BA in biology from Luther College.

Rebecca Fris
Program Manager II
: Rebecca supervises a majority of the Science Program technical staff. She joins the Science Program staff after eight years with the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP). With the ERP, she first assisted in developing and implementing early proposal solicitation packages including development of an ERP Implementation Plan. For the last several years, she served as the Sacramento Valley Regional Coordinator where she worked on major ecosystem grants such as the Battle Creek Restoration Project and activities within the Sacramento River Conservation Area. Previous to her work with the CALFED program, Rebecca worked as a special assistant to the Secretary for Resources for three years on major initiatives such as coastal salmon and vernal pools. She also previously worked in environmental consulting in Southern California and with the Southeast Regional Office of the Nature Conservancy while in graduate school. She received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a Masters in Environmental Management, Resource Ecology from the Duke School of the Environment in 1995.

Michelle Shouse,
Special Assistant to the Lead Scientist/ USGS Coordinator
: Michelle comes to the Science Program after working for eight years as a part of the USGS San Francisco Bay Group as a biologist. She received her graduate degree in marine biology from San Francisco State in 2002. Michelle's work in the Bay focused on benthic community ecology. Specifically, Michelle sought to identify community level responses to anthropogenic pollution in the shallow water benthic environment. As part of the USGS team, Michelle spent countless hours on boats sampling the Delta, facilitating interdisciplinary research. As a boat operator for USGS, Michelle will continue to be a part of research in the Delta.

As a member of the Science Program, Michelle is the USGS coordinator, overseeing all USGS funds committed to the CALFED Science Program. Michelle advises the Lead Scientist and the Science Program Deputy Director in developing budgets and financial plans for the program. She is the representative for the USGS within the Science Program to identify how the Science Program and USGS Scientists can best contribute to meeting the CALFED Program goals and objectives. Michelle assists the Lead Scientist in technical aspects of the Science Program and relevant programs within the USGS.

Dusty Boeger,
Science Program Webmaster
: Dusty was exposed to the importance of water in California at an early age. Growing up in rural Northern California surrounded by rice fields and almond orchards, he learned early in life that water was precious. Sticking close to home, Dusty received a BA in English from UC Davis with special focus on creative writing and teaching. His writing efforts culminated in the co-authoring of the book "Education Corruption in the State of California". In 1997 he shifted his career focus and moved to the Bay Area to work in the Silicon Valley. Before joining the Science Program in May of 2004, Dusty worked as a website developer and graphic artist for an educational software company developing online learning systems for high school students. In addition to his duties with the Science Program, Dusty is also the webmaster for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Science Consortium website.

Shemeles Ayalew
Research Analyst II/ Database Coordinator
: Shem Ayalew graduated from California State University of Sacramento with a BA degree in Economics and a special minor in Smart Growth Urban Planning. Before joining the Science Program, he worked for the California Student Aid Commission Responsible for contacting students and school officials in California Universities (UC), California State Universities (CSU), Independent Colleges (IC), California Community Colleges (CCC) and private Schools to determine the financial aid eligibility and cost associated with attending school. After that he worked for California Department of Transportation to collect, compile, analyze and interpret the state highway classification data to identify California state highways and arterial roads systems. Compile the system data in the GIS Arc-view software to interpret and analyze the data to be used by Caltrans and CHP regarding the different functional classification systems. Now working in the Science Program, he helps in the development and management of a Science Program database to track science activities and projects, and assures that project deliverables are received and catalogued electronically.

Jill McGee
Executive Assistant
: Jill has worked with the Science Program for over 3 years. Her previous position of 16 years was with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (formerly CYA). Her unit managed the prison population. She now enjoys working with a program attempting to manage the fish population.

Laura Walker
Research Writer
: Laura is the writer and editor of Science News and other Science Program Communication products. Before joining the Science Program, she was a freelance writer, editor, writing instructor and professional speaker for more than a decade. An award-winning author, Laura has written more than a dozen humor books – both fiction and non-fiction – including “Reconstructing Natalie” and “Thanks for the Mammogram!” which was endorsed by Dr. Ernie Bodai, the driving force behind the Breast Cancer Research Postage Stamp. A recipient of the California Newspaper Publishers Association scholarship, she received her BA in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento, where she minored in English. Laura formerly worked as a reporter for The Vacaville Reporter and The Sacramento Bee where she covered everything from pigeon racing and emu ranching to cemetery board meetings. She now looks forward to covering science meetings that are a little livelier.

Gina Ford
Staff Environmental Scientist
: Gina joined the Science Program in the winter of 2009 as a Staff Environmental Scientist. She received her B.S. degree in Biology, with a concentration in Conservation Biology, from California State University, Sacramento in 2000. Prior to joining the Science Program, Gina worked for the state for a little over 9 years with the California Department of Fish and Game’s Lake and Streambed Alteration Program, the California Department of Water Resources Central District Water Quality Program, and the California Department of Boating and Waterways Capitol Outlay Program. Gina has worked on projects such as water quality monitoring and data collection in the Bay-Delta, acquiring regulatory permits for recreationally-based water-related project activities, and development of state-wide consistency in the application of mitigation requirements for state issued agreements. Over the course of Gina’s career she has predominantly worked in and around the Bay-Delta, and she looks forward to continuing to work in that area with the Science Program.