Laura Valoppi


Laura Valoppi is Lead Scientist for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.  This restoration project is a multi-funded collaboration between the USGS, the California Coastal Conservancy, the Fish and Wildlife Service (and other organizations) to restore 15,000 acres in the south San Francisco Bay formerly used as salt ponds to a mixture of salt marsh and pond habitat.  As Lead Scientist she is the primary science representative of the restoration project and oversees a $5 million multi-disciplinary research program conducted by teams of USGS researchers from the Water, Geology and Biology Science Centers in the Western Region, as well as researchers from other organizations and educational institutions.  This is a long-term project requiring the consideration of many aspects of San Francisco Bay geomorphology, geology, water use and quality, chemistry, toxicology, and ecology. 

 Laura works with researchers and managers on promoting and organizing discipline-specific, multi-disciplinary, as well as, integrated scientific monitoring and applied studies throughout the San Francisco Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project area.  She provides the leadership to foster collaboration for all science activities.  She is responsible for providing leadership in strategic planning, coordination, and management of all scientific programs and activities related to the restoration project, and developing partnerships to implement these activities with Federal, State, national and international partners.   As the science manager for the San Francisco Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project she generates local, national and international interest, and local, federal and regional investment; ensures the restoration science studies are credible, legitimate and relevant; encourages the best scientists available to work on issues of interest to the restoration project; identifies and fosters funding opportunities to support the restoration.  These tasks are accomplished in concert with the Project Management Team (PMT) that is comprised of State and Federal Refuge Managers and other regulatory and land management agency managers.

Laura has a diverse background that includes experience related to the bay, biological resources, water quality and grants management that prepares her very well for the challenges she faces as lead scientist. She has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 12 years as a lead biologist for various environmental contaminant and oil spill cases, as well as working on regional conservation plans to protect threatened and endangered species. Her work as lead biologist included field work in oil spill response and environmental contaminant studies, as well as development and review of ecological risk assessments. Laura was lead biologist for the Service during the Montrose Natural Resource Damage Assessment trial, and subsequent to a favorable settlement, was lead for the Service in a multi-agency effort to restore bald eagles to the northern Channel Islands and Catalina Island. She was also lead biologist, and latter supervisor, for a program to conserve ESA-listed species through working with local governments to develop large-scale regional habitat conservation plans throughout northern California. The last four years with the Service she was a manager of a grant program to the States, which distributed approximately $86 million annually to California and Nevada, to support a variety of management, restoration and research activities to benefit a wide variety of game, non-game, and ESA-listed species.  Prior to her work with the Service, she worked for about 10 years for the State of California, primarily as a toxicologist for a variety of human and ecological risk assessments. She has experience in teaching risk assessment and risk communication, presenting papers at scientific meetings, and writing risk assessment guidance and other technical publications. She has served as President and Vice President of the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology.  Her B.S. degree in Natural Resources is from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, (1980) and her M.S. degree is in Water Science from the University of California at Davis (1987).