The Water Security Initiative is a consortium of interdisciplinary researchers at Iowa State University collectively and collaboratively working towards advancing water security and justice throughout the urban-rural continuum. The mission of the initiative is to support world-class research and education in water sustainability that ensures equity for all people and care for natural and managed ecosystems.

The United Nations defines water security as “the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.”

To promote graduate student research and engagement in this effort, a competitive grants program is open for graduate students at Iowa State University. Eligible graduate students may apply for up to $5,000 for one-year projects. To encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, a pair or team of graduate students from different programs may apply for up to $10,000 for a one-year project. This funding will allow students to engage in additional research projects beyond the scope of their current project. Proposals must state how the proposed project differs from their primary research project and address topics related to water security and justice.

Grant recipients will be required to submit a mid-year report of their activities, and at the end of the project, they will provide a short description of their project’s outcomes and present their research in a poster symposium on campus in spring 2024.

Proposals must follow the guidelines below and can be submitted via Cybox. For questions contact Dr. Chris Rehmann ( Proposals are due April 28 by 5 p.m. Late proposals will not be accepted.

Proposal Guidelines:

Please include the information listed below. The body of the proposal (items 1 through 10) should not exceed 4 single-spaced pages in 12-point, Times New Roman font.

  1. Title
  2. Graduate Principal Investigator(s): Provide names, email addresses, and phone numbers of the principal investigators. Graduate students should list their advisors and faculty collaborators as co-investigators.
  3. Abstract: Provide a brief (250 words maximum) description of the problem, objectives, and methods.
  4. Keywords: Include keywords that are descriptive of the work.
  5. Introduction and related research: Support the project need through the peer-reviewed literature. Explain the significance and need of the project and its relevance for water security and justice throughout the urban-rural continuum.
  6. Overall goal and objectives of the project.
  7. Methods, procedures, and facilities: Provide enough information to permit evaluation of the technical adequacy of the approach to satisfy the objectives.
  8. Timeline of activities.
  9. Professional development statement: Explain how the proposed project differs from the primary research project of the graduate student and describe any plans for professional development such as conference travel or technical training.
  10. Budget and budget justification: Provide a brief (less than 1 page) summary of anticipated expenses. Allowable expenses include materials and supplies, support for hourly student workers, service lab or analysis fees, equipment rental; up to 20% of the total budget can be allocated towards travel. PI salary or stipend, benefits, and tuition awards are not allowed. No indirect costs.
  11. References (not included in the 4-page limit)
  12. Investigator’s qualifications (not included in the 4-page limit): Include résumés of the graduate principal investigators and faculty co-PIs. Each résumé must not exceed 2 pages.
  13. Letter of support (not included in the 4-page limit): Include a letter from the faculty advisors stating, “We support the project proposed by [graduate PIs’ names], and we confirm that the project differs from their primary research project and that the students have written this proposal on their own.” Each advisor must sign the letter.