Spend your summer on science and engineering
The Sustainability and 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 Doerr School of Sustainability in the lab or in the field (or remotely) through the summer. Students present their work at a fall scientific symposium.
Attend an information session
Ask questions and talk to former program participants!
Recording from Nov 30, for 2021 (last year)
Slides from the session (pdf)
Info Sessions for summer 2023
Wed Nov 30 at 4-5 pm- Mitchell B04
Wed Dec 7 at 12-1 pm - Mitchell B04
Thurs January 12 at 3-4 pm - Mitchell B04
What you need to know
Download our most recent information session presentation for details on how our program works for 2021.
Read what past SESUR students wish they had known when they applied
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.
Learn about the research findings of the 2020 SESUR students. Due to the pandemic the normally in-person research symposium was transformed into this website where you can still learn from the SESUR students.
2022 Research Symposium - October 21 - Abstracts and Schedule
What you need to know
See the list of projects proposedby faculty looking for 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.
All research projects with travel or lab research will require a contingency plan if travel or access to labs is limited by University policy.
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 them directly.
The stipend in 2023 is $7500 for 10 weeks of full time effort. There is also a needs-based supplement of up to $1500 based on financial need record.
Funding priority goes to current and prospective students in any of the departments and programs within the School of Sustainability who have not yet received departmental funding. Freshmen and sophomores receive priority, though juniors and seniors in their first research experience will be considered. 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, they will receive an email notification asking for approval.
Proposals are due on February 16, 2023.
(To preview the complete application, view a pdf here)
Jenny Saltzman, SESUR director, holds office hours in January-February to help with proposal writing. Email Jenny with questions or to set up a time to talk any time of year.
Thursday, February 9 at 3:00-4:00 pm
Friday, February 10 at 1:00-2:30 pm
Monday, February 13 at 1:30-2:30 pm
In the student lounge, GeoCorner Student Lounge (Braun 320), room 114
FAQ for studentsSESUR FAQ
Mentor's questions answered here, plus tips from past mentors.
Info Sessions for Mentors in 2022 (summer 2023)
Thursday Dec 1, at 3-4 pm in Green 365
Wednesday Dec 7, at 4-5 pm in Mitchell B04 or via zoom
(Register in advance for this zoom meeting)
Contact Jennifer with your questions or to set up a meeting.
The first page of the proposal must use the template below.
Why do you want to do research this summer? How have you developed your interest and knowledge in STEM fields? How will your participation in SESUR aid in reaching your academic and career goals? (limit – the rest of this page)
Please use the naming convention of yourlastname-facultylastname-SESUR-2023.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.
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.
Reviewing the examples of past successful proposals, provided below, may prove useful for helping you think about how to construct your own proposal. No budget information is required.
- Example Proposal 1
- Example Proposal 2
- Example Proposal 3
- Social Science Proposal
- Modeling Proposal
- Machine Learning Proposal
If you are accepted...
Students who participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program are required to:
- Enroll in SUSTAIN 100: Research Preparation (1 unit) during spring quarter. The course includes several activities to help you create a successful 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. Options are 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.
- All students are expected to be doing research on campus, unless they are doing field research. Although some of the research projects could theoretically be accomplished remotely, we want the students to have the campus experience of research, including the weekly seminars and other workshops.