Stanford University
SESUR student group

Stanford Earth Summer Undergraduate Research

Photo by Kate Maher

Spend your summer on science

The Stanford Earth Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SESUR) is a 10-week summer research program for Stanford undergraduates from any area of study who want to learn more about environmental science and the planet we live on. Students find a project - or propose one of their own - and work with a faculty member from the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) in the lab or in the field through the summer. Students present their work at a fall scientific symposium.

Learn More

students working in a lab

Attend an info session

Ask questions and talk to former program participants!

Second Info Session: Tuesday January 14 at 3:30 pm
Mitchell Bldg, room B04

What you need to know

Download our most recent information session presentation for details on how our program works.

Navigate to What you need to know

See what it's like

Our program has been going strong for more than 15 years. Watch this video of a previous cohort to get a sense of the SESUR experience at Stanford Earth.

Navigate to See what it's like

Learning by doing

How SESUR helped one undergrad know if graduate school research would be right for her.

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What you need to know

Available projects

See the List of projects proposed by faculty in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) looking for summer undergraduate researchers. Each year these range from subjects as climate change effects on coral reefs to measuring the trajectory of mammal size growth. Remember, you are NOT limited to only the posted projects. We encourage you to reach out directly to faculty if you are interested in their research. 

Navigate to Available projects
Dusty Schroeder and Students photo by Stacy Geiken

Find a faculty sponsor

Students may apply to work with any faculty member Stanford Earth, which includes the departments of Energy Resources Engineering, Earth System Science, Geophysics, and Geological Sciences. Faculty in the Earth Systems Program who have an appointment at Stanford Earth are also eligible to serve as advisors. Browse our faculty directory to see their research interests. If you are interested in working with someone you find there, contact him or her directly.

photo of laptop calculations by Helloquence at Unsplash


We will be offering approximately 20 Stanford students stipends of up to $7,500 to conduct research over the summer of 2020. Funding priority goes to current and prospective students in any of the departments and programs within Stanford Earth who have not yet received departmental funding. Freshmen and sophomores receive priority, though juniors and seniors in their first research experience will be considered (Students receiving support during the Summer must be enrolled in undergraduate studies for both the preceding Spring quarter and the following Fall quarter). Coterms are unlikely to get funded. Students who wish to conduct Honors research should apply for a Major Grant directly from Undergraduate Advising and Research

How to Apply

You will develop the project proposal with a faculty member (and likely a graduate student or post doc) who will act as your advisor(s). Your proposed faculty research advisor must approve your application. Once you submit it online, s/he will receive an email notification asking for approval.

Proposals were due at 5:00 pm, on Friday, February 21, 2020.

Jenny Saltzman

Office Hours

Jenny Saltzman, Director of Outreach Education, will hold office hours in February to help with proposal writing in Mitchell room 132. Stop by with questions about SESUR. Or email Jenny.

Wed Feb 12: 10-12
Thurs Feb 13: 12-1:30
Tues Feb 18: 3-4:30
Thur Feb 20: 11:30-1:00

Your proposal

Proposals are due by 5:00 pm, Friday, February 21, 2020. You and your advisor will be notified of funding prior to spring break. Your proposal should not exceed 6 pages total, and must include the following items.

Basic information

The first page of the proposal must use the template below. 

Please use the naming convention of  yourlastname-facultylastname-SESUR-2020.pdf 

Download template (docx)

Description of the proposed project

This section should comprise the bulk of your proposal. What is the broad question you will be addressing? Why is it a significant or important question? How exactly will you address it? What are the objectives of the research? What methods will you use?

Tentative work plan

When will you do the work you’ve proposed? When do you plan to be in the field? If you need to collect/prepare samples for lab analysis, when will you work in the lab? You should also include time for data analysis and poster making. This section should not be written in paragraph form - a bulleted list or table is preferred.

Tentative budget

Please format this as a table. The maximum allowable stipend is $7,500, which breaks down to $750 per full time week (about 40-hour) for 10 weeks (you may apply for any portion thereof). The total budget may not exceed $7,500.  Talk to your mentor about how long you want to work if you have other plans for the summer.

Intellectual property

Not in the proposal, yet mentors will be asked for one paragraph on whether, and if so, how the proposed research integrates with their own projects and if so what will be the separate intellectual property of the SESUR student.

Example proposals

Reviewing the examples of past successful proposals, provided below, may prove useful for helping you think about how to construct your own proposal.  The budget should reflect the payment of $750 per week (these are old proposals - ignore the lower rates and supply budget).

If you are accepted...

Students who participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program are required to:

  • Enroll in EARTH 100: Research Preparation (1 unit) during spring quarter PRIOR TO their research summer. The course includes several activities to help you create a successful summer research experience.
  • Attend a weekly lunch seminar series during the summer (when on campus), which will include lectures by faculty and workshops on poster-making and oral presentations.
  • Participate in a research symposium with a poster or oral presentation in the fall at SURPS and the Stanford Earth Undergraduate Research Symposium or spring quarter at ASURPS and the Stanford Earth Research Review.
  • Complete program evaluations at the mid-point and end of your research.
Jenny Saltzman
Jenny Saltzman
Director of Outreach Education

Still have questions?

For more information, don't hesitate to contact Jenny Saltzman.

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