Application information for the 2019 Summer Institute will be available soon.
Please check back! 

The 2018 Summer Institute took place June 10 through July 28th. Twenty-three graduate students spent seven weeks at the NWC diving into National Water Model science and developing research questions. Students formed groups and completed projects in one of the following themes: Hyper Resolution Modeling, Groundwater Flow Modeling, and Computational Aspects of Hydrologic Modeling.

2018 Summer Institute Themes and Theme Leaders: 

Hyper Resolution Modeling

Theme Leaders: Fred Ogden (National Water Center/ University of Wyoming), Sarah Praskievicz (University of Alabama), Jude Benavides  (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), Chris Lowry (University at Buffalo)

Groundwater Flow Modeling (with emphasis on Groundwater - Surface Water Interactions)

Theme Leaders: Joseph Hughes (USGS), David Steward (Kansas State University)

Computational Aspects of Hydrologic Modeling

Theme Leaders: Ehab Meselhe (Tulane University and the Water Institute of the Gulf), Kyle Mandli (Columbia University), Sagy Cohen (University of Alabama)

2018 Summer Institute Course Coordinators 

Danielle Tijerina (Colorado School of Mines)

Lauren Grimley (University of Iowa)

Fernando Aristizabal (University of Florida)

View the report highlighting student projects from the 2017 SI: 
National Water Center Innovators Program Summer Institute Report 2017 

Continue reading for additional information regarding program structure, student eligibility, and information regarding the application process.
Information for the 2019 Summer Institute will be available soon!

  • About the Summer Institute

    The National Water Center Innovators Program was established as a partnership between CUAHSI and the National Weather Service to help engage the academic research community in the enhancement of the National Water Model. The main activity of the Innovators Program is a seven-week Summer Institute (SI) at the National Water Center, which brings graduate students together with faculty advisors and National Water Center staff to conduct group projects that involve rapid prototyping of new ideas. The 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 and on a small study area, are illustrative of issues that affect the functioning of the National Water Model across the continental United States.

    The first Summer Institute, originally called the National Flood Interoperability Experiment (NFIE), was held June through July of 2015, and focused on the formation of a prototype National Water Model running in the Texas Advanced Computing Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The prototype model demonstrated that the discharge on 2.7 million stream reaches of the United States could be simulated and forecast in real-time using input precipitation and weather information produced by NOAA and a computational framework called WRF-Hydro developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The key innovation demonstrated at the first Summer Institute was a hybrid grid-catchment information framework for the National Water Model in which the land-atmosphere computations were carried out on square grid cells covering the continental U.S., and the resulting runoff was geographically transformed onto the 2.7 million catchments of the National Hydrography Dataset Plus (NHDPlus) and routed through the NHDPlus stream network. It was shown that the continental stream network could be treated in real-time as a single flow continuum, from atmosphere to oceans and from coast to coast.

    2018 will be the fourth Summer Institute. Students apply to attend the program in the fall. Selected students then plan to reside in Tuscaloosa for the seven week program from June through July. Students are grouped into teams organized around projects defined by the theme leaders and pre-selected topics. 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. 

  • Information for Prospective Students

    The Summer Institute has been described as a transformative experience for graduate students.

    The Summer Institute is an invaluable opportunity for beginning-career hydrologists.  I cannot overstate the amount I learned, the increase of confidence in my abilities, introduction to new concepts and methods, and the relationships that I formed during the SI.  It is an experience that has made me feel like I am more posed to have an integral contribution to the hydrologic community and has given me direction in my studies and research.  I won't forget my experience at the SI for a long time to come. - 2017 Summer Institute Fellow

    If you are interested in learning more about the Summer Institute, please take a look at the following resources:

    Questions regarding the Summer Institute can be sent to


  • Program Schedule

    The schedule below is meant to be provided as an example for prosepective Summer Institute applicants:

    Nov. 1 Student application period opens
    Jan. 2 Last day to submit applications 
    Early February Student awards issued
    Mid-February Deadline for students to confirm attendance 
    June 10 Registration and orientation at the University of Alabama
    June 11 Summer Institute begins
    July 26 Summer Institute ends
    July 26 Summer Institute Capstone Meeting 
    July 28 Students move off campus 
  • Program Eligibility

    Applications will be accepted from current and incoming graduate students and post-docs within three years of graduating with their PhD. Applicants must be affiliated with US universities. Applicants who are not US citizens will need to report their visa status. Due to security regulations, all accepted applicant’s involvement in the SI will be contingent upon a foreign national visitor approval process. Upon acceptance into the program all participants will need to provide additional security clearance documents and fingerprints, and must be cleared by NOAA Security.

    Additionally, students must be able to reside on-site at the University of Alabama for the entire program.

  • Award

    Students selected to participate in the Summer Institute will receive reimbursement of travel expenses to and from Tuscaloosa, and a meal stipend while attending the program. Dorm-style lodging will be provided at the University of Alabama. Students will have their own bedrooms, but will share a living suite. Due to the scale of the program, CUAHSI is unable to accommodate requests for single occupancy suites or housing for spouses or children.

    We encourage involvement from the students’ advisors, and as such, CUAHSI has funds to support travel expenses for advisors to make a trip to attend the SI Capstone event.

  • How To Apply

    Application information for the 2019 Summer Institute will be available later in the year. Please check back. 

    Students will be evaluated based on their background, knowledge, training, and experience, as well as the degree to which they have the skills and the abilities to work in a fast-paced, collaborative environment. 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.

    The application consists of: 

    • Application Form (submitted online through Proposal Space - you must create a free account to start your application)
    • Statement of interest. A brief statement which explains why you would like to participate in the SI and how the SI will contribute to your graduate studies. The Statement of Interest should be brief – one to two paragraphs is sufficient, not to exceed one page.
    • CV. A one to two page CV detailing your education and research.
    • Transcript. A recent copy of your transcript. Transcript may be unofficial (not sealed by registrar).
    • Letter of Endorsement from your faculty advisor. The letter should endorse the student's participation in the Summer Institute and explain why the student is qualified to participate in the SI and how the experience will benefit the student’s research. The letter should be signed by the student's advisor and uploaded as a pdf file. 

Photo Credits: Emily Clark (CUAHSI), Andy Ernest, Liu Zhu