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Summer Institute

The National Water Center Innovators Program Summer Institute is a seven-week experiential learning program that brings graduate students together with academic researchers, other professionals, and National Water Center staff. Since the first Summer Institute in 2015, more than 180 students have participated in the program, which continues to play an important role in advancing the National Water Model and water prediction in the United States.

About the Summer Institute

The Summer Institute is a partnership between CUAHSI and NOAA that aims to engage the academic community in research to advance the mission of the National Water Center. Summer Institute participants work on projects related to water prediction and flood forecasting. Students work in small teams and are mentored by university faculty and other professionals. Student applications are accepted in the fall of each year.

Although there may be some overlap between a Summer Institute project and an individual student's academic research, Summer Institute projects generally are self-contained. The Summer Institute culminates in a capstone presentation and a final project report. Most project teams have published their work in a scientific journal after the completion of the program.

The 2024 Summer Institute will be held from June 10 - July 26, 2024.

Possible research themes for the 2024 Summer Institute:

  • Use of topo-bathy, Land Use/Land Cover (LULC), and building footprint data to identify high flow thresholds.
  • Exploration of optimal hydrologic model formulations for low-flow predictions, with a focus on conceptual groundwater.
  • Developing applications that effectively characterize the uncertainty in Flood Inundation Mapping (FIM).
  • Advancing reservoir modeling through the assimilation of Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) (e.g., including observations in the NextGen hydrofabric water bodies, channel definition).
  • Identify appropriate hydrologic model formulations and methods for state adjustment as part of the streamflow data assimilation process.
  • Assimilation of geosynchronous satellite imagery (visible & infrared) into NextGen for improved radiation balance modeling.

For more information contact Julia Masterman at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Learn More

Program Timeline

  • Application period: November-January; 
  • Fellows notified of acceptance: March; 
  • Informational webinars: April-May;
  • Program dates: June to July.


  • M.S. and Ph.D. students enrolled in U.S. universities are eligible to apply to the Summer Institute.
  • All participants must be fully vaccinated (as defined by the CDC) against COVID-19 and will be asked to show proof of vaccination at the start of the program.
  • Students selected to participate are expected to stay onsite in Tuscaloosa Alabama for the program. All students will be provided dorm-style lodging at the University of Alabama with individual bedrooms and a shared living suite. ​​We may be able to accommodate special housing requests as appropriate. Reach out to email hidden; JavaScript is required.
  • Students should also expect to provide their own laptop computer, or work with organizers to accept a loaner if necessary. 


Those selected to participate in the Summer Institute will receive:

  • Reimbursement of travel expenses to and from Tuscaloosa. Travel advances may be provided as needed.
  • A meal stipend while attending the program.
  • Accommodations to reside in University of Alabama housing for the entirety of the program. (See above for more information)
  • A $2,500 Honoraria.

CUAHSI will support travel expenses for student's advisors from their home institution to attend the Capstone event at the end of the Summer Institute.

How to Apply

The application deadline for the 2024 Summer Institute Fellows has passed.

Application Requirements:

  • Application Form
  • Transcript
  • Letter of Endorsement from the applicant's academic Advisor
  • CV

Student applications will be evaluated based on student background, knowledge, training, and experience, including work in a collaborative environment. The ideal participant will be committed to advancing water prediction in the U.S., collaborative, curious, and a rapid learner. 

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