2016 Australian Climate and Water Summer Institute

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Update: This call has now closed. A new call is anticipated around July 2017.

We are soliciting student applications for a competitive fellowship grant to participate in the 2016 Australian Climate and Water Summer Institute. This prestigious event offers up to 14 of the best students in Australia a unique opportunity to work closely with peers and experts from academia and government agencies to enhance climate and water information and its practical applications. Successful applicants will have affinity with climate and water issues but can be from any relevant technical background. The Summer Institute is organised by a consortium of government and research organisations and will take place in Canberra from 5 December 2016 until 20 January 2017, with a Christmas break from 23 December 2016 – January 2 inclusive. Student research fellows will collaborate intensively in small teams for six weeks to work on projects developing an application or improvement to data services and analysis tools from the by Summer Institute partners. During the first 2 weeks of ‘bootcamp’, students will obtain a deeper understanding of the role and workings of different government agencies, participate in the annual OzEWEX national workshop, and receive intensive training and mentoring to help them undertake their project in the following 4 weeks. The Summer Institute will focus on a small number of broad themes led by experts from the consortium partner organisations and academia. Depending on their chosen project topic, students will be embedded with one of the partner organisations. At the Culmination Event each team will present their results in a poster and short paper. Following the Summer Institute, teams will be assisted in further developing their project outcomes into a peer-reviewed publication.

Continue reading or follows these links for additional information:


Background

With the current rapid rate of technological development, new opportunities to observe and predict Australia’s climate and water arise every day. New developments in IT, sensorisation, remote sensing and GIS occur so fast that they exceed the capacity of researchers to apply them. Our operational agencies continually have to prioritise what new research and technology to convert into new information services for maximum benefit. End users are continually challenged to incorporate that new information into their decision making – whether they are policy makers, water managers, emergency services or businesses and individuals.

With this context, a consortium of research and government organisations have come together to search for more effective ways of finding the shortest path from new technology to better decision making. The Summer Institute plays a key role in that search. The institute will be organised with close involvement from researchers in universities across Australia. Coordination happens through the Australian Climate and Water Exchanges Research Initiative (OzEWEX), an important Australian contribution to the UN’s World Climate Research Program through the international GEWEX program.

The Summer Institute is intended to help the consortium partners achieve a number of objectives. This includes more widespread familiarity and use of their data assets and services, technologies and software. It will also help them strengthen their networks within the research community, and build familiarity and reputation among a talented student cohort as a potential future employer or collaborator. Most of all, the Summer Institute wants to provide an opportunity for talented students to get involved in developing ambitious new ideas to use new data and technology.

Some of the data services and tools the participants can choose to work with during the Summer Institute include:

How it works

The Summer Institute consists of 2 weeks of ‘boot camp’ followed by 4 weeks of project execution, ending with a Culmination Event.

During the boot camp, participants will receive intensive hands-on training from experts in key data and tools. Typically, training will be provided by experts most closely involved in the original development of the data and tools of interest. Through excursions and training, students will also obtain a deeper understanding of the role and workings of different government agencies. Furthermore, students will be sponsored to participate in the annual OzEWEX national workshop, during which around 100 researchers, operational staff and information users will come together to discussion climate and water science and its use in decision making. Towards the end of the boot camp, students will self-organise in small teams of 2 or 3 individuals and formulate their project and scope out a plan for the remaining weeks, with assistance of the theme leaders.

In the following weeks, participants will collaborate in small groups to define a project that uses some of the above data and tools. The emphasis will not be on the incremental further development of those data and tools, but on ambitious ideas towards new applications to better assist decision making. Participants and their home advisors should not expect that project topics will fit closely with their ongoing research, although there can be opportunities to introduce new ideas or methods developed in that research.

During the project execution period, students may be embedded with one of the consortium partner organisations, depending on the chosen project topic. There, they will receive further assistance and mentoring in carrying out their project. All participants, theme leaders and home university advisors will meet weekly face-to-face or by video to discuss project progress.

At the Culmination Event, each team will present a poster and short paper. Following Summer Institute, teams will be assisted further in developing their project outcomes into joint peer-reviewed publications where possible.

Themes

Program Themes of the 2016 Summer Institute will be as follows:

  • Drought Assessment – spatially measuring water resources and the environmental and agricultural impacts of drought.
  • Water Sharing and Environmental Flows –water use and the benefits of environmental flows across the Murray-Darling Basin at present and under future scenarios.
  • Flood Risk and Emergency Response – spatial flood risk mapping and prediction from remote sensing and the national DEM, routing river flows at national scale.
  • Water Cycle Data Integration – new observation networks and  remote sensing, data discovery and data assimilation.

After the initial boot camp, students will self-organise into small teams of 2 or 3 individuals to work on projects under these broad themes.

Fellowship award

Fellows selected to participate in the Summer Institute will receive room, board, and tuition to participate. A daily meal allowance of $25 is also included. Dorm-style lodging will be provided on the Australian National University campus. Students will have their own bedrooms, and share bathroom, kitchen and living areas. Economy air travel from and to Canberra is also covered, including return travel for the Christmas break.

Home university advisors are strongly encouraged to actively participate in the Summer Institute, and the award includes travel and accommodation expenses to attend part of the boot camp and/or OzEWEX workshop. Home university advisors are often thesis or project supervisors, but other faculty staff may also act as advisor.

Why apply?

There are so many good reasons to apply! Among others, participation will allow you to:

  • collaborate and build long-term relationships with peers from across the country;
  • more deeply understand the role of our government agencies and research organisations;
  • visit or even be embedded in these organisations to experience working there;
  • meet and be mentored by Australia’s most prominent researchers and practioners;
  • receive intensive training in cutting-edge climate and water data and tools;
  • take on an ambitious challenge with national profile;
  • have the chance to write up your research into a peer-reviewed publication;
  • gain valuable team working experience and understand the contribution different disciplines make;
  • fully appreciate the pathway from technology to better decision making.

The Summer Institute is modelled on a similar event in the US. You can read some of their testimonials here. Want to know more? Just ask.

Eligibility

Applications will be accepted from current and incoming graduate students (including Masters, Honours and PhD students) and post-docs within three years of graduating with their PhD. Applicants must be affiliated with an Australian or New Zealand university and be citizen or resident (including holders of a study visa).

To take part in the Summer Institute, students will need to be able to reside on-site at the Australian National University campus in Canberra for the duration of the program.

Successful applicants will have affinity with climate and water issues but may be from any relevant technical background. Examples include IT, remote sensing, GIS, civil engineering, physics or mathematics as well as environmental or earth sciences.

The Summer Institute Selection Committee will select participants on the basis of their academic merit and motivation for participating. Applications must include a statement of interest explaining why you would like to participate, a one-page CV, relevant academic transcript, and supporting Letter of Endorsement from a home faculty advisor explaining why you are well qualified and how the experience will benefit your research.

You can start your submission here.

Timeline

The provisional program timeline is as follows:

July 20  Application period for Fellows opens
September 18  Application period for Fellows closes
September 31  Fellows selected
October 15  Deadline for selected Fellows to confirm attendance
December 5  Arrival and registration at Australian National University
December 14-15  OzEWEX annual workshop
December 16  Bootcamp ends
December 19  Project execution period begins
December 23  Break for Christmas and New Year
January 3  Project execution continues
January 17  Project finalised
January 19-20  Culmination event
January 21  Students check out of dorms

Organisers

Summer Institute Board:

Submit your application

Follow this link or the button below to create an account with Submittable and start your application:
submit

Contact

If you have any further questions after reading this, do not hesitate to contact Prof. Albert van Dijk by email via albert.vandijk@anu.edu.au.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some clarifications in response to questions asked.

I am not an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can, provided you have a valid visa for the duration of the Summer Institute and are affiliated with an Australian or New Zealand university.

I am not currently employed or enrolled at an Australian or New Zealand university. Can I apply?

Yes, you can still apply. However, because the Summer Institute is intended to help people pursue a future research career, you will need to make a case how participation will help you with that. You will also need a university researcher to act as home faculty advisor and support your application.

I want to apply, but I have some commitments during the Summer Institute period. Is that allowed?

Yes, in principle. We understand you may have other commitments and will do our best to accommodate them. Much would depend on the duration and timing of any absences. Make sure to indicate them in your application and we will contact you to discuss if it presents an impediment.

Would it be possible to participate without staying in the organised student accommodation?

We will encourage participants to stay together in the organised accommodation to create an inclusive group environment. However we will consider alternative arrangements if there are good reasons for it.

Can I choose my own transport to and from Canberra?

Yes, provided it does not exceed the costs of air transport. Reimbursement will occur based on actual expenses made.

Can I choose what I want to focus on?

Yes! This Summer Institute is deliberately organised for a small group of participants so we can be as flexible as possible to cater for your interests, both in terms of any hands-on learning you’d like to undertake and the research or development project you would like to pursue. If you have particular ideas or hopes, make sure to describe them in your application.

My skills are very technical, I don’t know that much about climate or water. Can I still apply?

Yes, definitely! Provided you have (1) an interest in helping to solve climate and water related problems, and (2) you good knowledge or skills in another area that you can bring to bear – whether it is big data analytics, Bayesian statistics, remote sensing and GIS, scientific computing, writing web sites or phone apps, and many other areas – you will see they all play an important role.

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