Call for Applications: Theme Leaders for the 2018 National Water Center Innovators Program Summer Institute


The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) is soliciting applications for faculty Theme Leaders to help organize and provide science leadership for the 2018 National Water Center (NWC) Innovators Program Summer Institute. The Summer Institute (SI) will host 30-40 resident graduate students who will work on collaborative projects to advance NWC goals. Theme leaders will receive a $10,000 honorarium plus travel support for their role in the SI.


The National Water Center Innovators Program was established as a partnership between CUAHSI and the National Weather Service to engage the academic research community in the enhancement of the National Water ModelThe intent is to create an innovation incubator where students from many universities can exchange ideas and advance concepts that, although they may be analyzed only for a short time or on a small study area, are illustrative of issues that affect the functioning of the National Water Model across the continental United States. Earlier sessions of the SI prototyped conversion of grid-based WRF-Hydro output to representation of streamflow on the NHDPlus network, as well as the Height Above Nearest Drainage (HAND) method for estimating extent of flood inundation.

2018 will be the fourth session of the SI, which is an eight-week program during which graduate students are resident at the National Water Center (tentatively from mid-June through early August). Students will apply to attend the program in the Fall of 2017, students will be selected by incoming Theme Leaders, CUAHSI staff, and NWC staff in early January 2018.  Students are grouped into teams organized around projects defined by the Theme Leaders and pre-selected topics. Students work with Theme Leaders, NWC staff, and others identified by Theme Leaders on student-identified projects that involve rapid prototyping of new ideas related to use or application of the NWM.  While there may be some overlap with the students' individual MS/PhD research projects, the expectation is that the work and research done during the Summer Institute will be a separate, self-contained project. Students receive full travel and subsidence support for the SI.

Position Description

Theme Leaders are responsible for defining a theme that students can use to develop their projects.  The projects may be at any scale—local, regional, or continental—but findings of the research should be transferable to other locations and/or applicable at continental scale.  Themes should enable students to develop creative projects that can be successfully completed within the timeframe and data resources available.  Several of the 2016 projects have been published in a 2017 featured collection of JAWRA, and planning for another featured collection based on 2017 outcomes is underway.

Although Theme Leaders are not required to reside on site for the duration of the SI, they will be expected to participate on-site and provide instruction during the first two weeks of the SI, and participate on site during the final week of the SI for a Capstone event; additional travel by Theme Leaders to the NWC will be supported by CUAHSI as needed. When not on site, Theme leaders should be available for remote consultation by holding scheduled “office hours” to meet with their groups. Each Theme Leader should expect approximately 3-6 project groups to be formed under their theme. 

Additional responsibilities for Theme Leaders include attending a planning meeting at the NWC in January of 2018, and conducting webinars (usually one or two) over the spring of 2018 to prepare students for the SI to introduce the theme concepts and describe potential projects.  

The Theme Leaders will receive a $10,000 honorarium for developing a theme, as well as travel and subsistence costs while on-site at the NWC.

In 2018, CUAHSI and the NWC propose to focus on the underlying science of the National Water Model, investigating current hydrologic process algorithms or adding new algorithms.  In particular, the 2018 SI intends to address hyper-resolution modeling; algorithms describing groundwater movement and surface water – groundwater processes, including groundwater withdrawals; channel routing schemes; and improved computing algorithms through engagement with the computer science community.  CUAHSI and the NWC will accept other themes for consideration.


Full-time faculty at any US-based institution or affiliated organizations, are eligible to serve as a Theme Leader. Selected Theme Leaders will be subject to NOAA security clearance requirements for access to the NWC. In the past, CUAHSI has supported Theme Leader collaborators and post-docs to participate in part of the SI to bring additional ideas and content to the activity.

Application Instructions

To apply, please submit the following items by November 3, 2017:

  • Current CV
  • Responses to the following questions (not to exceed 2 pages total):
  1. What is the focus of your proposed theme?
  2. What are potential projects under this theme that would be appropriate for the SI?
  3. How will the theme contribute to the near-term goals of the SI?
  4. What are the data and computing resources required to address this theme?
  5. How will you use the results of the SI in your own research?

Submit the application (CV and responses) as a single pdf file and as an email attachment to Emily Clark at  by 11:59 PM ET on November 3, 2017.

Questions can be directed to Jerad Bales (

Additional Resources

Additional information regarding the Summer Institute can be found: