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Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our summer research program.

Am I eligible? From VPUE

What do I write and say when contacting potential mentors?

Check out this list of suggestions, in addition to these suggestions.  Faculty and other mentors (graduate student s and postdoctral fellows who have a project here are expecting hear from you.  Send an email message with everyone on the project and set up a time to talk next week.

Can I take a class during the summer in addition to doing research?

Yes. You will be doing SESUR during your FLEX quarter and you can take up to 5 units.  If you are doing research in spring term, 1 unit will be for the course EARTH 100.

Can I do field work or interview people?

Field work is allowed in SESUR.  In 2021, all travel and any field work off campus must comply with the University’s Travel Policy. For the most current research policies and guidelines, review the Research Recovery website. The Research Recovery website includes the process for field research approvals and travel exception requests, the principles behind the field research approval process, and COVID-19 Prevention Best Practices related to field research

If your work involves interviews or other research involving people, you may need to be approved to work with Human Subjects.  Talk with your mentors about this.  You should include this in your proposal.

How does housing work?

You will apply for summer housing through Stanford for 10 weeks. You can only live on campus with your cohort.  The university has made it clear that research is not an acceptable reason for an exception for this. If you are thinking about on-campus research spring term, check in with Jenny.

What is a dynamic stipend?

In brief, the system will combine three components for each unique student project:

  • a core stipend ($5000 in 2021)
  • a financial need-based supplement
  • a location-based supplement
  • Full details from VPUE

How do I get paid? What about taxes?

We highly suggest you set up direct depositso the funds are directly transferred to your bank account.  Please do this or you will be sorry.  At least one student every year doesn't set it up and can't find their stipend which is a lot of money! Checks are sent to your address on file and too many times end up in locked PO boxes that you can't get to if you are off campus. The payment is subject to tax and will be reported on your 1098T form. To learn more about taxes and tax forms, read this from the student financial services.

Can you tell me more about the time commitment/expectation?

In 2021, you will apply for the full 10 week program.  You will be expected to work full time - about 40 hours per week - during that time period.  

What if there are other costs for my research?

You should talk to your faculty advisor about costs for supplies and unusual travel expenses. 

What if the research preparation course EARTH 100 conflicts with other courses that I want to take in Spring term?

You are required to take EARTH 100, ESS 108, or an independent study course (1 unit, pass/no credit, EarthSYS 297) with Jennifer Saltzman.

What are the rules about 2021 funding?


  • I understand that this grant may only support current Stanford undergraduates. 
  • I must retain an active undergraduate status throughout the period of the research project for which I am participating.
  • I understand that, during the quarter of my VPUE Department/Faculty Grant-funded research opportunity:
    • I cannot be on suspension 
    • I cannot be a student taking a gap year (a gap year only happens before matriculation)
    • I cannot be on a Leave of Absence (LOA) 
    • I cannot be paying graduate tuition
  • I understand that grant funds cannot be disbursed, retained, or used during quarters when students are on suspension.
  • I understand that I may not receive both academic units and a stipend for any single project activity.

For Full-Time Projects

  • I understand that if I am the recipient of a SESUR stipend, I am: 
    • Committing to a single full-time immersive project in lieu of other full-time opportunities, and I understand that I will have to forfeit other sources of full-time funding for this or other projects. This includes but is not limited to: 
      • Major Grant
      • Chappell Lougee Scholarship
      • Beagle II
      • Haas Summer Fellowship
      • Stanford Seed
      • Departmental Grant-supported summer research position
      • Faculty Grant-supported summer research position
    • I must have completed two (2) quarters of full-time course enrollment in the current academic year by the time that I undertake a full-time Stanford-sponsored opportunity during my Flex Term.
  • I understand that I am permitted to enroll in up to five units of coursework during the Flex Term in which I am engaging in a full-time research project.
  • I understand that I am permitted to work at an additional internship, job, or volunteer position for no more than 10 hours per week. 
    • While full-time VPUE Faculty/Department Grant recipients are permitted to work at an additional 10 hours per week, these additional hours cannot be funded with an alternate VPUE Department/Faculty Grant 
  • I understand that I cannot enroll in five units and work 10 hours per week during a Flex Term synchronously.
  • I understand that my participation in a full-time opportunity does not make me eligible to live on campus.

All students who are being supported with VPUE funds (and non-VPUE funds administered through VPUE programs) are now required to complete a Student Contract and Waiver prior to receiving funding.

Jenny Saltzman
Jenny Saltzman
Director of Outreach Education

Additional Questions?

If you don't see your question and answer here, please contact Jenny Saltzman at

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