Student Water Scholars Program

Download and complete the application form here: Water Scholars Application Form.


Click here to upload your completed application form!
(ECU Login Required)

Spring 2021 Water Scholar Cohort Fall 2021 Water Scholar Cohort
Spring 2022 Water Scholar Cohort  Fall 2022 Water Scholar Cohort
Spring 2023 Water Scholar Cohort  Fall 2023 Water Scholar Cohort
Spring 2024 Deadline: February 10 (Deadline has been extended!)

About the Program

The Water Resources Center’s Water Scholars Program provides funding for currently enrolled ECU undergraduate and graduate students who are seeking support for a student-led, faculty-supervised creative, educational, or research project. The student applicant is required to identify a faculty member who will serve as a mentor. The faculty mentor is expected to provide guidance on the design of the proposal and serve as a mentor throughout the span of the project. Proposals should include a component that supports and builds the WRC community. Examples for supporting and building the WRC community include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Helping to develop a new community field site,
  • Building data infrastructure,
  • Initiating/strengthening community partnerships,
  • Leading citizen science activities, or
  • Creating and sharing stories about the issues in the region (e.g., documentaries, storyboards, etc.).

For a full description of WRC community building priorities, explore the WRC’s web pages.

Available Funding

The Water Scholars program will have an estimated $15,000 available per academic year. We anticipate funding up to 10 students per academic year. Awards are expected to typically be in the range of $500-$2000, but there is no limit to what can be requested.

Application Process

There will be two rounds for proposal submission in each academic year (fall and spring semesters). The fall deadline will be the 2nd Friday in September, and the Spring deadline will be the 4th Friday in January. Applicants will be notified of funding status within about two weeks of the application deadline. To apply for the Water Scholars Program, please download and complete the application form.  Once it is complete, submit the application form with your resume and mentor support letter using this upload site.

Each application will require you to complete an application form where you will provide:

  1. A description of what you propose to do and the significance of this work to water (i.e., what do you want to do and why is it important?).
  2. Your vision for how this work will be relevant and contribute to the broader WRC community (i.e., why would others care?).
  3. A detailed budget, including a description of why the requested funds are needed to complete the project.
  4. A timeline for your project explaining how long it will take and outlining milestones you expect to meet along the way to help you know you are on track.
  5. A one page resume or CV (curriculum vitae).
  6. A brief, signed letter from your faculty mentor on official ECU letterhead stating the following: ‘If this student receives a Water Scholars Award, I confirm that I will serve as a mentor for the duration of this project and my department agrees to assist with distributing funds for the award.”
  7. (Optional) A letter of support from a community partner if your project requires access to specific spaces, people, or materials that are normally restricted.
  • 4th Friday in January/2nd Friday in September: Proposals due
  • Early February and Late September: Water Scholars Committee will meet to decide awards
  • Two weeks after application deadline: Awards announced


Full-time undergraduate students who hold at least sophomore standing (30 college credits) and graduate students are eligible to apply.
Competitive applicants are students who can articulate research interests and/or creative activities aligned with WRC community building priorities.
Students are eligible to receive support once a year.

Expectations of Awardees

Students who participate in the Water Scholars Program are expected to prepare a one-page description of their work and present the results of their work to the WRC community.

  • Written summary: One-page description of work, including the project rationale, significance of results, how project impacts the WRC community, and how the project will advance the student’s career goals. The description will be posted on the WRC website.
  • Formal presentation (oral or poster) to ECU/Greenville community: for example, Research and Creative Activity Week, Pirates on Water meeting, State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS).
  • Students and faculty mentors will become WRC affiliates.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I have to be actively involved in research to be eligible?

  • No, students do not already have to be actively involved in research, creative, or extracurricular educational activities at the time of proposal submission. The Water Scholars funding is intended to support students at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Can my project funds be extended?

  • Funds cannot be extended beyond the semester that the applicant specifies in their proposed timeline. However, an extension of the project final report can be granted if unexpected challenges have delayed progress of the project.

Can I apply for other ECU-supported awards for the same project that I propose to the Water Scholars Program?

  • A student cannot receive funds more than once for the same proposed project activities. However, a student can propose project activities to other solicitations as long as it is clearly specified in the proposal how the Water Scholar funds will support a different set of activities that are being requested in other proposals.

When does my project begin?

  • A student’s project may begin in the same semester they apply, or a student may apply for funds for an upcoming semester. The student should clearly denote the project start date in the project timeline.

What can my funds be used for?

  • Funds can only be used to support project activities, such as materials and supplies, mileage costs, and/or student wages.
  • Students cannot use funds for tuition and student fees.

Do I get a check for the money if my application is selected for funding?

  • No.  Your funds will be transferred to your home department that hosts your academic program.  Purchases and salaries will be made through that department.  Major equipment purchased for the project through ECU must be returned to the department upon completion of the project.  If you are successful in your application, your faculty mentor will need to provide contact information for a departmental administrator who will aid with the funds transfer to the department.

How much money can I ask for in my proposal?

  • The committee has $15,000 in estimated funds available per academic year. Awards are expected to typically be in the range of $500-$2000. We anticipate funding up to 10 students; however, there is no minimum or maximum limit for how much money you can request.

What are the WRC’s community building priorities?

At the Water Resources Center, we aim to:

  • Enhance understanding of water issues through research and education.
  • Develop and apply new ideas that will lead to sustainable water management in eastern North Carolina and around the world.
  • Train the next generation of water scientists.
  • Engage the general public of regional water quality and quantity issues.
  • Serve as a link between water researchers, water professionals, and the general public.

Do I need to be a member of Pirates on Water to apply?

  • Students do not need to be members of the ECU student water resources organization, but membership is highly encouraged!

For general inquiries, please email