Estuarine Biogeochemical / Water Quality Modeler

  • Location: Richmond, California

  • Program: Clean Water

  • Type: Full-time

  • Experience Level: Mid level or higher

  • Position Type: Permanent

  • Salary: $95,500-$103,000

Position Description

  • Posted: May 6, 2024

  • First review of applications: June 5, 2024

  • Application closing date: Position open until filled

The San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) seeks a scientist or engineer with expertise in three-dimensional biogeochemical / water quality modeling to join our team of numerical modelers conducting investigations related to nutrient loads, transformations, and ecosystem response in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta. 

Modeling work will support the San Francisco Bay Nutrient Management Strategy (NMS, see The NMS is an overarching plan guiding a multi-year science program studying the impacts of nutrient loads to San Francisco Bay and evaluating potential management actions. 

Model development and application will be carried out in collaboration with researchers at USGS, UC Berkeley, Deltares, UC Davis and other academic and research institutions. The successful applicant will collaborate with hydrodynamic and biogeochemical / water quality modelers as well as field scientists within and outside SFEI, and will share responsibility for leading the effort to develop and apply biogeochemical / water quality models in San Francisco Bay. 

Primary position responsibilities will include:

  • Developing and applying biogeochemical / water quality models, and interpreting simulation results.

  • Synthesizing results in reports and peer-reviewed articles.

  • Presenting findings to stakeholders and peers.

  • Taking an active role in setting program priorities and designing future studies, including fundraising.

  • Serving as a scientific and technical resource for other projects both within the NMS and throughout SFEI as a whole.

If you are excited about this role, but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. You may be just the right candidate for this, or one of our other roles.


Required Experience

  • PhD with 2+ years relevant work experience or a Masters degree with 9+ years relevant work experience.

Required Skills

  • Experience with estuarine, coastal ocean, or lake modeling is particularly relevant, including working with CE-QUAL-W2, EFDC, FVCOM, SCHISM, SUNTANS, Delft3D-FM, ROMS, or similar.

  • Experience with model calibration and validation.

  • Experience designing and implementing biogeochemistry and/or water quality modeling studies.

  • Although the position is for a biogeochemical / water quality modeler, a strong understanding of hydrodynamics is also necessary.

  • Strong analytical and data analysis skills, including time series and spatial analysis and handling 3D + time model output using scripting languages (e.g., Python, Matlab).

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including experience communicating scientific findings to a broad audience and working with a broad range of collaborators, managers, and stakeholders.

Preferred Skills

  • Experience with estuarine ecology and estuarine physics, e.g., working with tides, tidal dispersion, density stratification, strong horizontal gradients.

  • Experience with fundraising, project management, and managing entry and mid-level scientists is not required but is desirable.

  • Experience with multiple model platforms is a plus.

  • Our team works with Python, Linux, Git, and sometimes Fortran, so prior experience with these is a plus.


In your resume, please explicitly address the required and preferred skills, preferably in bulleted format.

Salary & Benefits highlights:

  • This will be an Environmental Scientist II position (position may be at a higher level depending on the experience of the applicant). The anticipated salary range for full time employment is $95,500-$103,000 for an Environmental Scientist II (Bay Area salary ranges are listed; note that salary ranges for other locations are 10-15% lower depending on location and are based on locational salary data). Salary ranges take into account many factors for making compensation decisions including but not limited to experience, education, internal equity, and organizational needs. We generally do not offer starting salaries at or near the top of the range. 
  • Matching contributions to retirement plan (immediate vesting) (403B).

  • Medical Insurance: health, vision, dental with employer and employee contributions

  • 12 paid holidays.

  • Vacation days starting at 3 weeks.

  • Hybrid workplace: Most SFEI staff are in the office several days per week, but a fully remote option is possible with approval from management.

About CW

SFEI’s Clean Water Program is one of the nation’s premier water quality science programs. It anticipates and meets the water quality data needs of policy-makers, resource managers, and the public. It helps the public, regulators, and those who discharge into our waters create more effective policies to ensure the health of our waters. The Clean Water Program consists of several programs and initiatives including the San Francisco Bay Nutrient Management Strategy.  SFEI is the scientific lead for this program, which seeks to address the most complex and costly issue confronting the wastewater treatment community since the Clean Water Act mandated secondary treatment 40 years ago.

About SFEI

San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which has a 25-year track record of providing robust and innovative science to decision-makers, policy-makers, practitioners, and community members to measurably improve the health and resiliency of Bay-Delta ecosystems. As a boundary organization, SFEI operates at the interface between science and policy, recognized nationally for our ability to build consensus to support effective environmental decision-making and policy. Our mission is to deliver visionary science that empowers people to revitalize nature in our communities. 


SFEI employs an interdisciplinary staff of more than 75. Our operations and IT staff are the backbone of our organization and keep everything running smoothly. SFEI has three major programs: Clean Water, Environmental Informatics, and Resilient Landscapes. Our program staff represent numerous scientific and technological fields, including chemistry, modeling, ecology, wildlife biology, landscape planning, historical ecology, geomorphology, geospatial analysis, and web development. 


For more information on our mission, values, programs, and staff, visit the San Francisco Estuary Institute website.  

Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action Employer

At SFEI, we celebrate the diversity of our staff and the places we serve, and recognize the value and strength of diversity. We are committed to growing together and creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. In 2022, SFEI developed and adopted mission and vision statements for DEIJ within and beyond our organization. We also created an action plan which is currently underway. We strongly encourage applications from women-identified people, people of color, and people with other identities commonly under-represented in environmental science. We invite you to share what you like about your professional experience as well as about yourself personally. 


San Francisco Estuary Institute is proud to be an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. We are committed to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment of any kind. All employment decisions are based on business needs, job requirements, and individual qualifications. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, physical or mental disability, family or parental status, protected Veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

Accommodations Statement 

If you are a qualified individual with a disability or a disabled veteran, you have the right to request an accommodation if you are unable or limited in your ability to use or access our website or application portal as a result of your disability. To request an accommodation, contact us at 510-746-7355 or

Other Key Information

Please note that SFEI cannot sponsor an employment visa (e.g., H-1B) to fill this position.

In the spirit of a fair hiring process, no phone calls or emails please.