2024 NWRRI Fellowship Program


  • NDSU and UND graduate students conducting thesis/dissertation research in water resources areas
  • Recipients of a 2023 fellowship may apply for continuous funding in 2024.
  • Fellowships have 1 to 1 non-federal to federal matching requirements.

Duration and Amount
Funding period: 09/30/2024 - 09/29/2025 (note that the funding start date may vary, depending on the final approval of the federal 104b funds)
Duration of a proposed project: from 3 months (summer only) to 12 months

Stipend amounts range from $800 to $1,000 monthly for M.S. students and $1,000 to $1,200 monthly for Ph.D. students, subject to funding. Or, fellows may receive up to $12,000 (M.S.) or up to $14,400 (Ph.D.) annually.

Proposal evaluation is based on: scientific merit, research originality, relevance to state water resource issues, and level of state/local collaboration and/or co-funding.

Application Deadline and Submission
Applications are due by 5:00 p.m., April 5, 2024. All proposals will be evaluated by an external review panel of water resources professionals. Please send an electronic copy of the application package to Xinhua.jia@ndsu.edu. Please see the Guidelines for Preparation of Applications for details.

Information for Proposal Preparation

  • Fellowships are available only to NDSU and UND graduate students in full-standing engaged in thesis/dissertation research in any water resources areas. The award should be used only for stipends for graduate students.
  • Applications should be prepared by graduate students with significant input and advice from their thesis/dissertation advisors.
  • Fellowships are competitive, and applications will be evaluated by an external review panel of water resources professionals.
  • Preference will be given to students in the later stages of thesis/dissertation research who can demonstrate good research productivity (e.g., journal publications). Depending on the overall evaluation of the application, a portion of the requested amount may be awarded.
  • Applicants should have a thesis/dissertation project defined and approved by their graduate advisory committees, if applicable.
  • The advisor’s support of other research costs (supplies, travel, etc.) through existing external grants or funding from the university will strengthen the application.
  • Applications from students and advisors who have not met the reporting requirements of their previous fellowship projects will not be considered for funding.
  • The fellowship must be matched by twice the amount from non-federal sources. The preferred sources of matching are: (1) in-kind faculty time, (2) auditable co-funding of the student's thesis/dissertation project from a non-federal grant, and (3) tuition waiver. An in-kind contribution of state-funded academic year time of faculty advisor (faculty salary plus fringe benefits) and the student tuition waiver should normally satisfy the matching requirement.
  • Fellowships start on September 30, 2024 (or as soon thereafter as the USGS authorizes the NDWRRI funding).
  • Contact Dr. Xinhua Jia for additional requirement if your research involves the application of Unmanned Aerial System.

"Leveraging" Funding
It is strongly recommended that advisors/students consult the following agencies and personnel to explore whether the proposed fellowship research fits with their ongoing or planned research programs. If so, cooperative agreements involving additional funding or in-kind contributions of services to the fellowship project may be possible.

  • USGS Dakota Water Science Center, Bismarck (https://www.usgs.gov/centers/dakota-water) - specific contact (NDWRRI State Advisory Committee Member): Dr. Karen Ryberg (kryberg@usgs.gov)
  • ND Department of Water Resources, Bismarck (https://www.swc.nd.gov/) - specific contact (NDWRRI State Advisory Committee Member): Andrew Nygren (anygren@nd.gov)
  • ND Department of Environmental Quality, Bismarck (https://deq.nd.gov/) - specific contact (NDWRRI State Advisory Committee Member): Peter Wax (pwax@nd.gov)
  • Other local or state water resources professionals

Reporting Requirements
A final report, to be prepared by the student and his/her advisor, is required for all fellowship projects. The due date and the detailed requirements for the report will be provided before the end of the funding period. In addition, all fellows and their advisors are encouraged to publish their research results as an official NDWRRI Technical Report. The fellows are also expected to attend and/or present at the NDWRRI-organized and sponsored seminars and conferences.

Advisor’s Responsibility
Provide guidance to the student for preparing the fellowship proposal, particularly the budget to make sure the 1 to 1 non-federal to federal match is satisfied.

  • Co-sign the application cover letter.
  • If a fellowship is awarded, make sure that the student will submit the required final report by the due date.
  • Serve as the principal investigator and administer the awarded fellowship through your department by starting and ending the fellowship payments at the appropriate dates.
  • Acknowledge NDWRRI in the fellow’s thesis/dissertation, publications, and presentations for its support to the thesis/dissertation research and let the Institute Director know.

Note that each year, the Institute must wait for the final funding for the National Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) Program (included in the USGS budget) to be approved by the Congress and the President. Thus, we may have to modify the proposal later depending on what the Congress does regarding funding.

Guidelines for Preparation of Applications

The application package for the NDWRRI Graduate Fellowship must include the following:

A.   Cover Letter (PDF): It should be addressed to the Director of NDWRRI. The cover letter must be signed by the student and the advisor.

B.   Proposal (MS Word): Please use the template to start your NDWRRI Graduate Fellowship proposal. Your proposal will not be reviewed if you do NOT follow the template. The proposal consists of the following components. Note that Section B1-16 (single spaced, 12 font size) should not exceed 5 pages.

  1. Title of the project (concise but descriptive)
  2. Funding period (3-12 months)
  3. Application type (new or continuous)
  4. Focus categories (choose a maximum of three focus categories from the list in Attachment A, with the most preferred focus category first)
  5. Research categories (from the following, choose one category that most closely applies: Water Scarcity and Availability, Water Hazards and Climate Variability, Water Quality, Water Policy, Planning, and Socioeconomics, Watershed and Ecosystem Function, Water Technology and Innovation, or Workforce Development and Water Literacy)
  6. Keywords (enter 3-5 keywords of your choice descriptive of the work)
  7. Applicant (provide your name, degree, graduate program, university, and email address)
  8. Advisor (provide your advisor’s name, academic rank, department, email address, and phone)
  9. Introduction of the applicant: research area, post-secondary education, progress in degree program (courses completed, candidacy or comprehensive exam, anticipated completion date), progress in thesis/dissertation research, previous professional and scholastic accomplishments (publications, conference presentations, awards, etc.).
  10. Abstract of the proposed research (150-200 words).
  11. Description of the critical state water problem being (or to be) investigated.
  12. Key literature review and prior work in your research group (if applicable).
  13. Scope and objectives of the proposed research.
  14. Methods, procedures, and facilities.
  15. Expected results and proposed deliverables (e.g., publications).
  16. Progress to date, if research is underway.
  17. Cited references
  18. List of group publications (please provide a list of all peer-reviewed publications and theses/dissertations associated with the NDWRRI fellowships in your research group in recent two years (you may need to get the information from your advisor)).

C. Budget (Excel): Please complete the Excel budget sheet. This section must be prepared by the advisor. Remember the 1 to 1 non-Federal to Federal match is required.
D. Appendix I (PDF): Two-page NSF style biosketch of the advisor.
E. Appendix II (PDF): Up-to-date unofficial graduate transcript of the student (or undergraduate transcript for a new graduate student).

The deadline for the fellowship applications is 5:00 p.m., April 5, 2024. The application package, including 1 Word file (B), 1 Excel file (C), and 3 PDF files (A, D and E), must be sent as e-mail attachments to: Xinhua.Jia@ndsu.edu

Note that the successful fellowship applications will be eventually submitted to the USGS WRRI 104b Annual Grant Program for final approval. Suggestions from the state review panel or the director may be communicated to the applicants for further improvements and/or consideration of the proposals.

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