McMaster University Student Traineeship (MUST) Programme

The MUST Programme is closed as of 2021. Please see the current UNU-INWEH training opportunities here.

The MUST programme at United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is all set to provide a platform for McMaster University Students from all faculties and departments, a placement under its new capacity building programme.

Vision: To help promote young professionals and scholars from McMaster University to shape a sustainable and water secure world.
How will we do that?

This programme is specially designed for McMaster University Students from all faculties and departments, to provide them an opportunity for strengthening their skills in project management and science-policy bridging activities in the water sector, to working across disciplinary boundaries and to break sectoral knowledge silos to develop innovative solutions to pressing problems in the water sector.
We will provide a platform to enable exchanges among young professionals in the UNU networks and beyond, facilitate access to project management experience and professional opportunities, tailor capacity strengthening programmes and activities for each scholar, and provide engagement opportunities for on policy debates.

The uniqueness of the MUST programme lies in its mission: to seed the dream of ‘future water leaders’ in McMaster University students through traineeship and mentorship, to equip young professionals with the skills and competencies that will allow them to build their own future and career in the water sector, and to create skilled professionals who are prepared to face complex and systemic challenges in the sector while facilitating to minimize the environmental impact through generation of new data, information and knowledge.

The programme is also suited for students engaged with the Water Without Border (WWB) programme, to work with UNU-INWEH staff members and projects on a specific activity or research objectives.

Some relevant points related to the programme:

  • The programme is open for undergraduate scholars to more advanced researchers
  • Your term for MUST placement as agreed with your supervisor at UNU-INWEH with a total commitment of minimum 100 hours in the agreed tenure.
  • All costs pertaining to your participation in this programme will be borne by yourself or your respective sponsoring organisation- we do not charge any fee for this programme
  • The expression of interest should be discussed with the programme coordinator (Dr Nidhi Nagabhatla) by sending an email to with MUST in the subject line
  • Send a cover letter explaining why you would like to be part of the MUST programme, along with your resume or CV


My experience with the MUST Program at UNU-INWEH was a pivotal moment in my undergraduate experience that began my professional development. I had the opportunity to work on projects related to disaster management and water security in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), as well as sustainable aquaculture. I gained valuable research skills from performing literature searches, report writing, and collaborating with co-authors. The MUST Program is the ultimate opportunity to engage with global issues surrounding water, environment, and health from a policy development approach, which includes suggesting informed recommendations in regards to these topics. Dr. Nagabhatla and Dr. Perera guided me in the right direction while also giving me the independence to propose ideas and contribute to two major projects. UNU-INWEH is a phenomenal workplace environment and the MUST Program has provided me with a research base that I will be able to carry forward into my career!

– Chloe Wale, McMaster University


As a MUST scholar at the UNU-INWEH, I have been able to gain invaluable research experience during my tenure. From the beginning, I felt incredibly supported as I was assigned to a research project that aligned with my skill set and academic interests. While researching the relationship between gender, water, and migration, I learned how to conduct in depth case studies, as well the methods of making inferences and comparisons between differing real-world contexts. This experience has also taught me how to apply holistic yet focused approaches when investigating nuanced topics such as water scarcity. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my mentors; Dr. Nagabhatla and Panthea Pouramin, for guiding me at every step of my research process. I would highly recommend this program to anyone considering!

– Neha Naeem, McMaster University


My experience participating in the MUST program at UNU-INWEH was one that consisted of enlightenment and clarification. Coming into the program, I had little understanding of the true nature of water and how extended its impact is. I was able to study and analyze the World Water Development Reports (WWDR) to gain a more holistic view of how water affects our daily lives. From its impact to energy to its necessities for eliminating poverty, water forms one of the most important building blocks of our modern society. Thanks to Dr Nidhi Nagabhatla, I had the opportunity to delve into important concepts and ideas surrounding water and water security, as well as water development. Through my analysis of the WWDR and Global Risk Reports, I have been able to gain a better understanding of what I would like to do in my future career as it relates to human rights and environmental concerns. This is all thanks to the MUST program!

– Akiva Bartley, McMaster University

My experience in the MUST Programme at UNU-INWEH was an excellent opportunity to engage in and improve my understanding of global water issues. I found it very rewarding to be able to contribute to meaningful research and policy development and to be welcomed as a valued member of the organisation. It was a privilege to work alongside a diverse group of researchers seeking to better understand our most precious resource.

– Spencer Williams, McMaster University

UNU-INWEH offered a learning environment that was both stimulating and supportive. During my time here as a McMaster University scholar, I gained unique insights and transferable research skills while contributing to projects impacting global sustainable development. As someone who had minimal technical knowledge beforehand, I always felt welcome to pose questions and to take risks. Beyond the work itself, the opportunity to engage with scholars from diverse backgrounds and to work in an institution that drives sustainable development is unmatched.

– Yina Shan, McMaster University

My experience as a MUST Scholar was incredibly rewarding and enriching. Through this experience at the UNU-INWEH, I have been able to learn more about the real-world applications of geospatial analysis in global development, and more importantly, learn about how these tools can be developed in conjunction with relevant stakeholders. This opportunity provided me with challenges, such as learning new remote-sensing techniques and tools, as well as expanding my knowledge in the area of water-detection. Dr. Mehmood was an amazing supervisor and mentor, and was always approachable throughout my time here. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is able to apply to it!

– Sami Kurani, McMaster University


Participating as a MUST scholar with UNU-INWEH has been a revelatory experience. Transitioning from a university to an institutional environment provided me with practical workplace experience and real-world exposure to the challenges and joys of working in this field. My heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Nagabhatla and Dr. Sayan for accommodating and guiding me throughout two major projects on water security and global water cooperation concerning the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The MUST program is an opportunity to engage with pressing global issues surrounded by experts and the UNU-INWEH team’s immense hospitality. For all the kindness and patience the team has shown me, thank you!

– Tal Septon, McMaster University


As a MUST student scholar at UNU INWEH, I had the opportunity to work on projects that had real context in the world. I was able to apply knowledge that I gained as that undergraduate student to interdisciplinary topics. I had the opportunity to work on projects that fell within my field of interest, and so I largely focused on peace and political stability as it is related to water security. This position has provided me with interdisciplinary research experience that I will be able to carry forward in my academic career.

– Adrianna Michell, McMaster University

The MUST Programme was one of the most enriching academic experiences I’ve had in my undergrad. As my first step into research, I summarized the holistic approach of using nature-based solutions and grew my technical skills by analyzing flagship and bibliometric data from countries and universities worldwide regarding water security and transferred this to a statistical software called Tableau. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to learn how the SDG 6 is a collaborative process and working with individuals on a global scale. I would highly recommend this programme due to the immense support and guidance I received from my supervisors Dr.Nidhi Nagabhalta and Dr.Hamid Mehmood that made this a very accessible learning environment.

– Gloria Ko, McMaster University

During my placement with the MUST program at UNU INWEH, I had the opportunity to work on various projects including water quality in Indigenous communities, international water investments and fisheries and sustainable aquaculture. In this role, I was able to refine my research skills by performing numerous literature searches in order to compile science-based evidence from policy briefs and past UN assessment reports. I was also able to strengthen my research and critical thinking skills through conducting data analysis and reading academic papers as I identified at-risk regions for policy recommendations and analyzed current and past federal budgets for better resource allocation. I believe that this experience allowed me to demonstrate my self-directed learning, time management, and professionalism, as well as environmental and health advocacy abilities. -Negar Ghasemi, McMaster University

– Negar Ghasemi, McMaster University

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