Call for Applications 2018/19 Australian Climate and Water Summer Institute

We are inviting applications for a competitive fellowship grant to participate in the 2018 Australian Climate and Water Summer Institute, organised by a consortium of government and research organisations. This prestigious six-week event offers around 18 of the most talented students and early career researchers in Australia and New Zealand 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 an affinity with climate and water issues but can be from a variety of relevant technical backgrounds. The 2018/19 Summer Institute follows highly successful Summer Institutes in 2016/17 and in 2017/18.

The Summer Institute will take place in Canberra in two parts, from 10-21 December 2018 and from 7 January to 1 February 2019. The event starts with a two-week boot camp, during which fellows will obtain a deeper understanding of the role and workings of several different government agencies and receive intensive training and mentoring to help them undertake their project. They will also attend the OzEWEX annual workshop. During the following four-week project period, fellows will collaborate intensively to develop an application or improvement to data services and analysis tools from the Summer Institute partners. The Summer Institute will focus on four broad themes led by expert project leads from the consortium partner organisations and academia. Depending on their chosen project topic, fellows will be embedded with one of the partner organisations. At the final Climate and Water Symposium, each team will present their results. 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:


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 talented peers as a potential future employer or collaborator. Most of all, the Summer Institute wants to provide an opportunity for talented individuals 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 Final Symposium.

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, fellows will also obtain a deeper understanding of the role and workings of different government agencies. Towards the end of the boot camp, fellows 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 the assistance of project leads.

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, fellows 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. Fellows, project leads and home advisors will correspond or meet regularly to discuss project progress.

At the Final Symposium, 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.


All themes have an emphasis on the use of large, often grid-based data sets, modelling, high-performance computing and information technology. The Program Themes are as follows:

  • Forecasts – using weather, climate and water forecasts to benefit economy, society or environment.
  • Droughts – quantifying and predicting the economic and environmental impacts of drought.
  • Floods – improving flood risk assessment and warning, increasing flood resilience, and supporting emergency response.
  • Water Sharing – quantifying available water resources, increasing the benefits of water use for people and environment.
  • Data integration – integrating observation networks, remote sensing, and modelling through data discovery, data fusion and assimilation.

After the initial boot camp, fellows 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 be provided with dorm lodging. The accommodation has shared bathroom, kitchen and living areas. In addition, fellows will receive a scholarship that includes a living allowance and the costs of return travel for the two Summer Institute periods.

Home advisors are strongly encouraged to actively participate in the Summer Institute, and financial support to cover their travel and accommodation expenses is available. Home advisors are often thesis or project supervisors, but other supervisors or staff can also act as an 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 practitioners;
  • receive intensive training in cutting-edge climate and water data and tools;
  • take on an ambitious challenge with a 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.

Read the experiences of three Summer Institute alumni: Four reasons your PhD will benefit from the OzEWEX Summer Institute and some of the Testimonials from the most recent Summer Institute.



Read the experiences of three Summer Institute alumni: Four reasons your PhD will benefit from the OzEWEX Summer Institute and some of the Testimonials from past fellows below.

…a fantastic experience for me, not only developing my skills in problem-solving and programming but learning from leading researchers and colleagues in my area was really helpful.

It has been more than one year since I “graduated” from the Summer Institute, and everything left in my memory is beautiful.

“…extremely valuable for my research and career. Getting to know so many different agencies and stakeholders in the climate and water field and learning about different climate and hydrology related datasets and models for Australia was highly valuable. I really liked the writing workshop as well and am still using the paper concept maps when I start a new writing project. And the work on the student projects and meeting all the other students from all over Australia was fun! The organisation and structure of the Summer Institute was very good, too. I liked the division into a 2-weeks bootcamp and 4-weeks research project, and I think separating the 6 weeks into two 3-weeks blocks was good, because it allowed us to prepare a research question before Christmas, when the information from the 2-weeks bootcamp was still fresh. The final presentations in the end were a great, too, as it provided some fixed time frame and was a nice opportunity to showcase our research projects.

Very horizon broadening, based on the knowledge and network developed during the summer institute, I have been inspired to work on quite a few exciting new ideas using the skills learned to try to achieve better research outcomes.


Applications will be accepted from current and incoming graduate students (including Masters, Honours and PhD students), post-doctoral researchers, research assistants and early career professionals who are within three years of graduating. Applicants must be affiliated with an Australian or New Zealand university or a relevant organisation and be citizen or resident (including holders of a study visa).

To take part in the Summer Institute, fellows will need to be able to reside in Canberra for the full duration of the program.

Successful applicants will have some 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, analytical skills 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.


The provisional program timeline is as follows:

July 15  Application period for Fellows opens
September 1  Application period for Fellows closes
September 16  Fellows invited
October 1  Deadline for invited Fellows to confirm attendance
December 3  Arrival and registration at accommodation
December 17  Project execution phase starts
December 21  Christmas Break
January 7  Summer Institute reconvenes
January 24-25  Climate and Water Symposium
January 25/26  Fellows check out of accommodation


Organising Committee:

Submit your application

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


If you have any further questions after reading this, do not hesitate to contact Rowena Smith or Albert van Dijk.

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 or other relevant organisation.

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 or innovation career, you will need to make a case how participation will help you with that. You will also need your supervisor to 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 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. You will receive a travel allowance based on air or bus fares (for travel more resp. less than 350 km), but you are free to travel any way that best suits you.

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 websites or phone apps, and many other areas – you will see they all play an important role.

I know a lot about climate or water, but I do not have any programming experience. Can I still apply?

You can apply, but experience in programming and data analysis are certainly considered important in the selection process, as fellows are likely to be working with large data sets and analysis or modelling code as part of your project.

One comment

  • I think it is a great oppertunity to us to know and learning more about climate change and environment.helpfull for the students for their carrier and related job and research purpose.Thanks to the organiser committee to ceate such a platform for the students.

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