The Pathfinder Fellowship has been postponed due to travel limitations until Fall 2021. 

Graduate training in water science often focuses on a single field site, analytical, or modeling approach. The Pathfinder Fellowship program provides travel funds to graduate students in hydrology and related sciences to make an extended trip to enhance their research by adding a field site to conduct comparative research, collaborating with a research group, or working with researchers on adding an interdisciplinary dimension to a project. Fellowships are awarded to cover travel costs of up to a maximum of $5,000.

The Pathfinder Fellowship now requires a brief Data Management Plan, which describes how the applicant plans to obtain, store, and disseminate data products resulting from the Pathfinder Fellowship.

View the CUAHSI Resources for Data Management webinar as it will help you with this requirement.

Questions regarding the Pathfinder Fellowship Program should be directed to

Application Information

  • Application Materials

    The Pathfinder Application consists of:

    1. A CV of the Applicant
    2. A research statement (recommended 3 – 5 pages) describing the proposed research
    3. A one page proposed budget, including justification
    4. Letter of Endorsement/Commitment from the Applicant’s Advisor
    5. Letter of Collaboration/Commitment and from the Proposed Host

    The Pathfinder Application process is now completed online. You must create an account with Proposal Space to submit your application. There is no fee for submitting. You can save your application in progress and return to it later, but all required documents must be entered before submitting. All required information must be submitted by the application deadline.

  • Grant Conditions and Requirements

    Eligibility. Graduate students enrolled in either Masters or PhD programs are eligible to apply. However, to date all recipients have been at the PhD-student level. Past selection committees have felt that the level and amount of research required for a successful application is generally PhD level research. Masters students are encouraged to contact CUAHSI program staff to discuss their proposed project before submitting an application.

    Recipients must be enrolled in a graduate program at a U.S. University. International students studying at a US University are eligible, but students enrolled in a non-US institution are not.

    Grant conditions. Funds are available for travel reimbursement for the Awardee only. Fellowship funds may not be used to purchase supplies or equipment, or to support travel by others (e.g. advisors or other project personnel). Support for this Fellowship will be provided on a reimbursement basis in accordance with the CUAHSI Travel Policy. One-third (1/3) of the budgeted funds may be requested as an advance to cover large initial expenses. The Pathfinder Fellowship is contingent upon CUAHSI receipt of funding from the granting agency. 

    Outcomes. Specific outcomes of the Pathfinder Award are as follows:

    • Final Report: Recipients will be required to submit a final report documenting effort and significant outcomes of the sponsored activities to receive full reimbursement.
    • Dissemination: Recipients are expected to develop and execute a plan for disseminating their research results, including the archiving and publication of any data collected.
    • CUAHSI Biennial Attendance: Recipients are invited (and encouraged) to attend CUAHSI’s Biennial Colloquium on Water Science and Engineering to present research results enabled by the Pathfinder Fellowship.

    New in 2018. A new requirement in 2018 is a brief Data Management Plan, which describes how the applicant plans to obtain, store, and disseminate data products resulting from the Pathfinder Fellowship. 

  • Examples of Previous Fellowships

    Some examples of the types of projects that the Pathfinder Fellowships have support in the past are:

    • Travel to another university to conduct experiments to test hypotheses related to the fellow’s thesis work using a sediment lab and equipment not available at his home university, and to work with an expert on sediment transport.
    • Travel to conduct experiments at a site fundamentally different than the fellow’s own home research site (an “unrestored” stream vs. a restored stream) to test two different measurement techniques and better understand the impact of stream restoration projects.
    • Travel to conduct complementary field research and to collect data to better understand global environmental conditions (eg, the study of black carbon in the Arctic as compared to the Antarctic).
    • Travel to an experimental watershed for a graduate student who was using the data being collected and developing a model for the watershed to see the field data collection, and work directly with the field scientists collecting the data she was using.

View Pathfinder Awardee Archives

Take a look at our Pathfinder Archives to see how previous Pathfinder Fellows have used their award to go beyond one site and one view.

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Hear What People Have Said About the Pathfinder Program!

View the Pathfinder Fellowship Testimonials to hear what people have said about their Pathfinder Fellowships! 

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Photo Credits: Molly Tedeschi, Jordan Beamer, Sarah Schmitt, Scott Jasecho, Alia Khan