Fishermen bring in loads of fish from the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia
Fishermen bring in loads of fish from the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia

Much of the world’s population depends on large freshwater ecosystems to provide goods and services, and support economies and livelihoods in local communities. However, the ability to understand the potential community impacts of ecosystem change is limited. A better understanding of the physical, biological, and social dynamics of freshwater ecosystem services will allow for better management of these critical resources.

The Future Rivers program aims to address this gap by providing additional, in-depth, innovative training and opportunities. Future Rivers is not a degree granting program itself, but is undertaken alongside any Masters or PhD program at the University of Washington. Both incoming/prospective and current graduate students may apply.

Have questions about the program or want to join our quarterly newsletter for updates? Contact our team at


Students in the program will:

  • Develop new technical and data science skills to better understand interactions between the food, water, and energy sectors
  • Experience innovative, interdisciplinary and globally-relevant scientific research
  • Strengthen their science communication skills
  • Increase their cultural awareness and inclusivity within STEM fields
  • Create an educational foundation that connects academic, government, industry, and community partners
  • Foster deep and long-lasting professional connections that will facilitate learning and open pathways for future career opportunities


Future Rivers offers up to 18 months of stipend during participation in the core program. Funding is limited and is awarded on a competitive basis. Students who have secured other funding or are self-funded are more than welcome to apply to the program. Funding is open to both national and international students.

There is potential for other opportunities and funding after completing the core program, including a 1-year stipend; travel or research funds; support for skill-building opportunities. These are open to everyone completing the program, irrespective of initial funding.

Student requirements

The program begins the autumn quarter (September) of each year. Complete the core program lasts 12-months — with flexibility provided to take up to 18-months, if needed. The core program includes:

  • Three data science courses relevant to your degree program
  • A winter quarter graduate seminar
  • A spring speaker series
  • A week-long Summer Institute (U.S. or International)
  • A science communication workshop
  • Quarterly STEM inclusivity trainings
  • Quarterly cohort calls
  • Formation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Students are also required to be respectful while collaborating and learning with others.

Faculty advisor requirement

All students in the program must have a self-selected faculty advisor from their degree-granting program. Faculty advisors are asked to be active participants in the year-long program by attending at least one STEM inclusivity training, joining relevant Summer Institutes and networking events, and facilitating cross disciplinary interaction.

Faculty advisors are also required to be respectful while collaborating and learning with others.

Additional Benefits

  • Professional Networking
    • Social and educational activities (tours, book talks, etc.)
    • Community engagement via Summer Institutes, research, and volunteer opportunities
    • Interaction with external partners from multiple sectors including non-profit, business, government, and multi-lateral
  • Community Building
    • Develop a community of colleagues and friends through quarterly social meetups, seminars and coursework, and intensive interdisciplinary research
  • New STEM Career Skills
    • Access to Data Science Summit, career fairs, and hack weeks
    • Optional science communications trainings, including science through filmmaking
    • Opportunity for innovative interdisciplinary integration
    • Improved science communication skills and data science training
    • Increased cultural awareness and inclusivity

Future Rivers Factsheet

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