Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies

Image: Ripples on water

SF State's bayside marine and estuarine research facility.

Director's Welcome


Welcome to San Francisco State University’s (SF State's) Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC), San Francisco’s premier center for the scientific study of marine and coastal ecosystems. We are located on the Tiburon Peninsula, almost 8 km (5 miles) NE of the Golden Gate, right on the shore of San Francisco Bay.

RTC is a multi-institutional center for marine and coastal research, education and public outreach. We have strong partnerships with the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s San Francisco Bay research laboratory for marine invasive species and estuarine ecology, both located on our campus. Also based at RTC are studio and ceramics facilities for SF State’s Art DepartmentTaxon Biosciences and storage space for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).       

Our professors and affiliated researchers
have a long track record of excellence in the marine sciences, publishing cutting edge research in leading scientific publications and winning numerous, highly competitive grants and awards. We challenge ourselves and our students to apply creativity and a spirit of innovation while we tackle some of the most pressing scientific and environmental problems confronting marine ecosystems today, and into the foreseeable future. We foster creative, interdisciplinary synergies through collaboration among our resident research communities, including SF State undergraduate and graduate students, and with national, regional and local government affiliated and non-profit environmental agencies, as well as researchers and students from around the world.

Our success is evidenced by the outstanding students we attract to conduct graduate and undergraduate studies here. We provide exceptional support for our students’ professional and educational development by engaging them in the broad scope of educational, outreach and networking opportunities available at RTC. Our students routinely receive distinguished scholars’ awards and prestigious, highly competitive scholarships. Many go on to PhD programs and almost all remain in marine science or related fields, whether in academia, agency positions or the private sector. 

We have well designed facilities in a gorgeous setting on San Francisco Bay, providing a gateway to a diversity of nearby field locations. These include estuarine and open coast habitats, and urbanized settings suitable for a broad range of coastal research and educational activities. Our facilities include research laboratories and offices, classrooms, student and administrative offices, a waterfront greenhouse, a shared molecular facility, environmental observing stations (weather and water conditions), as well as maintenance and science support facilities. RTC has a variety of specialized equipment available for use and a baywater system to support research on San Francisco Bay organisms. Additional facilities and equipment are available at San Francisco State University’s main campus. RTC’s Marine Operations provides vessels (including the R/V Questuary and our small boat fleet), equipment, safety and dive training and field logistics for students and faculty conducting research on San Francisco Bay. We also have visitor housing at the Ohrenschall Guest House as well as conference and meeting rooms in the Bay Conference Center.

In addition to housing our research and educational facilities, RTC is a site of historical significance for the region. The physical structures and activities on site strongly reflect the changing nature of the relationship between human society and coastal ecosystems in the Americas, and elsewhere around the world. For now, you can learn more about RTC’s site history through our web site.  However, in the near future, we’ll be inviting you to join us for new opportunities at RTC to learn more about the historical ecology of our site.

RTC is involved with many public education and outreach activities on site and around the Bay at public events and in local schools. The recently created Barbara and Richard Rosenberg Institute for Marine Biology & Environmental Science promotes outstanding and engaging educational opportunities for our local community through a scientific seminar series, special public forums and an open house. During the spring and fall semesters, the Rosenberg Institute Seminar Series invites scientists to share their latest work with the RTC community and interested members of the public. Although geared toward a scientific audience, we welcome you to join us and learn more about current developments in marine science. Every fall and spring we hold a special evening event, the Rosenberg Institute Public Forum, providing an opportunity for the general public to join in conversation with a leading scientific expert about current marine science or environmental issues. At the Rosenberg Institute Open House events we invite the entire community to experience our campus and learn about the innovative research our faculty, students and staff are pursuing, and marine life in the Bay and beyond, with events and activities suitable for all ages.

Please explore RTC through this website or better yet join us in person. We invite students to apply to our excellent graduate and undergraduate program in marine science at RTC (through SF State). We welcome visiting scientists to conduct research on site or from one of our research vessels. And we encourage everyone to experience RTC first-hand and learn more about the science of the sea at one of our exceptional public events.

-Karina Nielsen


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