Pathways Program

Welcome to Partnerships Along the Headwaters of the Americas for Young Scientists (Pathways) Program! As part of the National Science Foundation’s International Research Experience for Students, Washington State University and the University of New Mexico are hosting the Pathways program. We will be seeking MS and PhD students to conduct research as part of the Transect of the Americas in Central and South America (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, or Peru).

When and Where

Once accepted, the Pathways student experience will include:

Sept – Dec 2023 – Pre-boarding Stage: This online stage involves monthly webinars, core readings, development of a research statement, and language and cultural training.

Jan 2024- Launching Stage consisting of a Summer School course at one of our international sites (early January).

Jan – May 2024: In-Flight Stage: A research experience between two and four months in duration at one or more of the Transect watersheds.

July – Aug 2024: Re-entry Stage: Two webinars on data analysis, scientific writing, and presentations, and “reverse culture shock”.

Sept – Dec 2024: Student cohorts will be encouraged to remain actively engaged in the Transect community through quarterly webinars, annual meetings, presence on our RCN web site, and serving as mentors for future students.

Student Eligibility

We seek students with aptitude in interdisciplinary research and backgrounds in hydrologic science, ecology and social science. Students must be full-time graduate students (working towards a thesis/dissertation and not yet graduated), and be citizens, nationals or permanent residents of the United States.

Funding and Compensation

The Pathways package will include 1) all travel expenses (subject to university and NSF Policies); 2) subsistence support up to $6,000 (depending on the length of the In-Flight Stage) to those who complete the experience; and 3) research support up to $600 allocated based on a proposal.


If you are interested in the program, please contact Dr. Jan Boll at Washington State University ( or Dr. Mark Stone at the University of New Mexico (

About the Pathways program

Washington State University (WSU) and the University of New Mexico (UNM) are launching a new effort to complement and grow their Research Coordination Network (RCN) project called “Transect of the Americas”. Both the Pathways and RCN are funded by the National Science Foundation.

The RCN is focused on research sites and an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from twelve institutions in six countries along a Transect of the Americas (henceforth, the Transect RCN) stretching from Alberta, Canada to Patagonia, Chile and Argentina. Each research site is viewed as a social-ecological system (SES) including both the headwaters (i.e., natural watersheds or hydro-climatic systems) and the downstream water use systems and the embedded social systems. Collectively, we refer to these social-ecological systems as headwater dependent systems (HDSs). Each HDS must develop adaptation strategies to short- and long-term challenges presented by changing hydro-climatic patterns and other concurrent internal and external stressors presented by changing societies. Information for each site is available at (make simple link on web version).

Pathways launches a high quality student engagement in HDS research across the Transect using a novel international research experience model. The program is designed to be flexible in order to meet the needs and unique circumstances of the graduate student, their advisor, the international mentor, and the mission of the Transect RCN. The Pathways experience core elements are a two-week Summer School in collaboration with our hosts at one RCN site, and the research experience with a host mentor at one of the RCN sites. We refer to these as the Launching Experience and In-Flight Experience, respectively. During the summer school, instructors from WSU and UNM, and RCN sites will join Pathways and Latin American students and focus on:

  • The principles and practices of interdisciplinary, international, and inter-organizational (I3) research;
  • Systems thinking, resilience principles, data collection and analysis, and modeling related to HDSs;
  • A case study project based on examples across the Transect RCN; and
  • A detailed research proposal for the ensuing research experience.

The research experience will start in January, following the summer school. Prior to this time, Pathways students will have worked with their hosts on their research proposals (i.e., their Pathways Flight plan). Common elements include:

  1. Organizing existing and/or collecting new data necessary to answer research questions, be it quantitative or qualitative;
  2. Developing or adapting models, comparative analysis, or other applicable methods;
  3. Providing weekly progress updates; and
  4. Producing a summary report of the international research experience, including a two page Research Brief in Spanish and English for placement on the Transect RCN website and sharing with the international host organizations.

In the long term, through the sequence of stages, Pathways students will be part of an active international network of researchers over the course of 15 months, an experience that will benefit their professional and personal networks, and contribute to the overall goals of the Transect RCN.

Information for Prospective Students
Cultural and Language:
  • All Pathways participants will be instructed to follow WSU and UNM principles of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity throughout their involvement in the program.
  • Participants also will be instructed on cultural differences and our expectation that we behave responsibly as guests in a foreign country.
  • Summer school instruction and communication with host mentors will be in English. However, Spanish or Portuguese will be may be the language spoken as part of the research work. There will be significant language barriers that must be navigated in the course of the field work.
Food and Lodging
  • Participants with specific dietary restrictions are advised to prepare strategies for eating in restaurants and in other settings.
  • During the summer school, participants will be housed in rooms/dormitories with two to three persons per room, and potentially shared bathroom facilities.
  • When traveling internationally, it is advised to check on the safety of tap water for drinking.
  • During the research experience, participants will arrange lodging based on advise of the host mentors depending on the length of stay, research location, and availability.
Program eligibility requirements

Pathways students will be MS or PhD graduate students who have already a developed research plan so that the Pathways Program duration and experience will align with the student’s graduation requirements and timeline. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents affiliated with U.S. universities, per National Science Foundation requirements. The In-Flight duration can range from two to four months, depending on the student’s semester/quarter system and any other academic commitments. This duration will be determined in communication with the student’s home and host mentors.

In order to receive the stipend, students are required to attend the summer school and reside on-site at host mentor research project locations in the respective RCN affiliated country.

Student participants must have a valid U.S. passport or International Passport (with permanent resident card) with an expiration date no earlier than 6 months after the date of the return flight.

Preference for the 2023-24 Cohort will be given to:
  • Students who have Spanish proficiency (fluency is optimal).
  • Students who match research ideas listed by host mentors. (Visit the Transect of the Americans Sites Page.)
  • Students with interest and background in social-ecological system science.
  • The Pathways program follows the aspiration the National Science Foundation: “Each year a new set of graduate students should be supported, with special attention given to broadening participation of underrepresented minorities and those without prior international research experience”.
Additional Pathways Participant Attributes:
  • Commitment to follow appropriate safety and security measures while being part of the international experience.
  • Be open-minded; flexible; adaptable.
  • High aptitude to work in teams with diverse students, and interact with local communities and stakeholders.
  • Dealing with challenging conditions common during travel and living abroad.
  • Openness to new experiences, international perspectives, and inter-organizational differences.
  • Willingness to being “Advisors” to future Pathways student and being “Ambassadors” of the project locally and in professional settings.
Program schedule

Application Process (full package due in July by invitation after pre-application):

  • Completing the pre-application will make us aware of your interest. Interested applicants then receive further application instructions.
  • The full application will include
    • Information about the student’s current degree program, current academic advisor, and a ranked list of research sites and host mentors.
    • A brief research proposal (max 2 pages) which includes research goals, proposed location(s), relation to the current degree program, and expected outcomes.
    • A resume and two letters of support. One of the letters must be a signed letter from the student’s academic advisor in support of the student’s participation in the Pathways Program, explaining why the student is qualified to participate, and how the experience will benefit the student’s research.
    • Additional documents such as academic transcripts and proof of meeting Pathways programmatic requirements will be required after students have been invited to join the program but before the initiation of their involvement.
  • Proposals will be evaluated based on
    • Quality of the research proposal.
    • Alignment of the student’s goals with those of the Pathways Program and the Transect RCN.
    • Academic performance record showing preparation for conducting the research.
    • Level of support expressed in the recommendation letters.
Upon Acceptance (by August 1):
  • Successful applicants will be matched to a host mentor upon acceptance into the Pathways program, and enter the Preboarding Experience.
Award details

Pathways awards include funds for round-trip travel from a location in the U.S.A. to the Summer School location, ground-transportation to/from the Summer School, costs of meals and lodging at the Summer School, airfare for transportation to/from the host institution, and subsistence compensation during the research experience up to $6,000 ($1,500 per month of stay). All air travel will use of US-Flag Air Carriers following the Fly America Act (49 USC 40118).

During the Pre-boarding experience, Pathways students can apply for up to $600 of research expenditures as identified in communication with their host mentor.

Contact us
If you have questions regarding the Pathways program and the application process, please contact with Dr. Jan Boll at WSU ( or Dr. Mark Stone at UNM (