Department of Civil
& Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate Research Program
The Department of Civil & Environmental
Engineering is pleased to invite applications for its 2019 undergraduate
research program, through funding provided by Stanford’s Vice Provost for
Undergraduate Education and the School of Engineering. The program supports
full-time research appointments over the 2019 summer session. The research awards will be based on a
competitive application process. Interested
students should submit their application and statement of interest, following
the guidelines given below, before Feb 20, 2019 at 5:00 pm. Decisions regarding awards will be
announced by Feb 28, 2019 via e-mail.
Theme: The theme of the undergraduate research
program is “Engineering for Sustainability”, which can be broadly interpreted
within all program areas of civil & environmental engineering and related
fields (e.g., architecture, earth sciences, etc.).
The 2019 summer program provides a full-time stipend of up to $7500 ($750
per week) for the 10 week summer session, plus $500 towards research project expenses.
The stipend can be used in any way that the student chooses including room and
board, or if the work is in a remote location, the stipend may be used to cover
travel to that location and room and board there.
Requirements and Restrictions:
is limited to Stanford undergraduates who are working under the supervision of
an academic council faculty member in the Department of Civil &
Environmental Engineering. Co-terminal master's degree students are eligible
only if the bachelor's degree will not be conferred before the end of the
program is specifically for projects that are conducted under close supervision
and collaboration with a member of Stanford’s academic council (tenure line
faculty). Student-designed projects are funded by the VPUE via a different
receiving full summer stipends may not register for more than 5 credits of
coursework, nor may they work for more than 10 hours per week in addition to
their research appointment.
are prohibited from receiving both credit and stipend for any single research
activity. This does not, however,
preclude students from working on a research project during the summer and then
expanding it into a senior thesis during the following academic year.
program goals include connecting participants with each other through organized
activities in the summer. Therefore, students must participate in organized
program activities throughout the summer (provided research is on campus).
must provide final summary reports on their project, complete an on-line
evaluation and present the results of their research in early fall quarter at a
CEE VPUE conference. Further details on these requirements are provided upon
request or at the time a student is accepted to the program.
Application: Prior to submitting
an application, students should identify and contact a CEE faculty member who
is agreeable to supervise and collaborate a summer research project. Students are encouraged to reference the CEE
faculty web pages to learn more about the specific research interests and
opportunities of the faculty. Faculty who have indicated an interest in
advising summer projects are listed below. You
may also apply for projects with faculty that are not listed here. You
may apply to work on more than one project, but please indicate your preference
if you do so (i.e., provide your first and second choice, etc).
Applications should include the following in a single PDF document named YOURLASTNAME_VPUE_CEE2019.PDF:
 student applicant information (name, gender,
ethnicity / race (not required,), major, current year at Stanford (freshman,
sophomore, etc.) expected graduation date, local address, e-mail address,
student ID number), and confirmation that you will NOT have received your BS or
BA before or during summer 2019,
 faculty research supervisor name and e-mail
 brief (500 word max.) statement of your research
topic and plans,
 copy of your transcript (an unofficial transcript
is fine), and
 resume or summary of relevant experience.
be submitted via email submitted to
5 PM on Feb 20, 2019. Applications received after this date
may still be considered, pending availability of funding. In addition, students must also submit items
 and  through the google form here: https://goo.gl/forms/1XEBffDLkcbs8Eos2
Questions about the
program should be directed to Professor Alexandria Boehm <email@example.com>.
CEE Summer Undergraduate
Research Projects: Students are encouraged to reference the CEE
faculty web pages to learn more about the specific research interests and
opportunities of the faculty. The
following are some examples of faculty who have indicated project topics that
they may have available this summer:
Environment - Environmental and Water Studies:
Faculty: Alexandria Boehm
Removal of pathogens
from stormwater using planted biofilters
This project will be focusing on the performance of
natural treatment systems- specifically biofilters- in removing pathogens from
urban stormwater. Over the course of the summer, the student will assist a
graduate student with constructing lab-scale biofilters with vegetation, maintaining
the biofilters, and collecting data on the removal of human pathogens through
the biofilters. No specific coursework is required, but an interest in
stormwater and natural treatment processes is essential.
Faculty: Alexandria Boehm
microplastics in Bay area stormwater
We are looking for an undergraduate student to help us
quantify microplastics in stormwater samples we have archived over the last
rainy season. The student will need to develop methods and quantify the
microplastics in the sample. Work with a microscope will likely be required, so
patience is a key attribute in the student who will take this position.
Faculty: Oliver Fringer
Transport in San
Field work and modeling work involving waves, currents,
turbulence, and sediment transport in San Francisco Bay.
Faculty: Peter Kitanidis
Computational work on inverse problems and particularly
river and nearshore bathymetry. For
example, in river bathymetry, one infers the river tomography from velocity
observations at the water surface. The
student must have interest in computational methods and data sciences. Some programming skills are required.
Faculty: Jenna Davis
Uganda Rural Water
Interested in the intersection of engineering,
international development, and social enterprise? Dismayed that 30 to 50% of
drinking water supplies fail in low-income countries? Want to apply your
engineering, economics, and/or social science skills to help solve this global
problem? Our new applied research project is recruiting undergraduate and
graduate students for multiple positions in 2019 and beyond.
Much of the drinking water infrastructure built in
rural Africa fails, wasting investment and forcing people to use unsafe water.
Our group has partnered with a nonprofit social enterprise in Uganda that is
testing a market-based preventive maintenance service to keep rural water
supplies running. We will evaluate community demand for the service among
communities in the district of Apac, in northern Uganda. We will also measure
the costs of the service and compare them to the benefits for families,
communities, and local government in a randomized trial. The project will build
evidence about this strategy to keep rural water supplies running long-term,
contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of safe water
for all by 2030.
We seek students with skills and/or interests in one or
more of the following areas:
* Sensors and IoT, develop software platforms, analytics,
hardware, and field-test sensors to measure flows of water supplies (computer
science, electrical, and mechanical engineering backgrounds).
* Mapping and GIS ‚ map water supplies and social data
* Field data collection ‚ develop, test, manage data
for, and apply surveys of water committees and households.
Students must be willing and able to travel to Uganda
for a portion of the summer quarter. The duration of travel will depend on the
particular aspect of the project on which the student is working.
Faculty: Jenna Davis
Evaluating the impacts
of piped water supply in southern Zambia
The research assistant will be helping to collect
endline data collection for an existing project in southern Zambia. The goal of
the project is to quantify the impacts of constructing piped water supplies in
communities that previously used shared boreholes with hand pumps on the time
and money costs of water, as well as water use, water quality, and other
outcomes of interest. The evidence generated by this project will inform
current debates about the costs and benefits of meeting the UN Sustainable
Development Goal 6, universal access to piped water supply at home.
The student research assistant will be working directly
with the lead graduate student.
Responsibilities are expected to include: collecting
samples from water sources and homes (stored water), processing microbiological
samples in a field laboratory, supporting interview training with enumerators,
helping to manage field teams (both remotely and in the field), reviewing
survey data daily, and analyzing data in Excel or R. The Stanford students will
live and work with a team of 6 to 8 Zambian enumerators for the duration of the
Previous experience working in low-income countries is
an advantage but not essential. Preference will be given to applicants with
experience working in flexible environments without many of the comforts of
Stanford (e.g., consistent access to A/C, hot water, wifi, and diverse food
This work requires a minimum of 6 weeks in Zambia. If
the assistant chooses to do so, this position can be extended for several
additional weeks to facilitate future collaborations in Zambia with the
non-profit partner. This work will include identifying appropriate future study
sites and working with senior leadership on future student programs between
World Vision and Stanford University.
Prior to leaving for Zambia, the student is also expected
to complete 4-8 hours of on-campus training led by grad student mentor James
Winter and/or Prof. Davis.
Faculty: Jenna Davis
The effects of piped
water investments on health, wealth, and well-being in western Uganda
Our team is carrying out a prospective study of piped
water infrastructure investments in Kamwenge District, Uganda. Perhaps
surprisingly, there is little quantitative evidence about the impacts of
obtaining a household water connection on health, income, and other measures of
well-being. Our team will follow communities with and without water infrastructure
investments and evaluate impacts at the individual (child, mother), household,
and community scale over the course of several years. This work will contribute
some of the only empirical evidence
generated through a before-after, case-control research design toward the
efforts of low- and middle-income country governments to expand access to
sustainable water supply services in a cost-effective manner.
We are looking for student research assistants to
support all aspects of this project, which is launching in Q1 of 2019. We will
be establishing a sample frame, developing data-collection instruments and
sampling protocols, and identifying an existing lab or setting up a field lab
for microbiological analysis over the next several months. Students on the
project will learn how applied research is organized and executed in a
resource-constrained setting with international partners.
The student research assistants will be working
directly with the lead graduate student on this project, as well as with the PI
Prof. Jenna Davis. Responsibilities may include literature
searching/review/synthesis; GIS/mapping; coding and pilot testing surveys;
developing and testing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for sample
collection and processing; supporting the training of enumerators in the use of
tablets, collection of samples, and interviewing techniques; processing
microbiological samples in a field laboratory; helping to manage field teams;
reviewing survey data daily, and conducting basic data analyses.
Qualifications: Previous experience working in
low-income countries is an advantage but not essential. We will give preference
to applicants with experience working in environments that demand flexibility
and do not have many of the creature comforts typical of Stanford. We are also
particularly interested in students who have skills that are relevant to the
responsibilities described above (e.g., statistics, microbiology, GIS, survey
Most positions will be field based, although it may be
possible to create a US-based position for some project tasks. Field based
positions require a minimum of 6 weeks in Uganda; preference will be given to
applicants who are willing and able to stay longer. All Stanford personnel will
live and work with a team of up to 30 Ugandan enumerators for the duration of
Prior to leaving for Uganda, each student research
assistant is also expected to complete up to 12 hours of on-campus training led
by his/her grad student mentor and/or Prof. Davis. We also have opportunities
for students who would like to get involved with the project during winter
and/or spring quarter.
Faculty: Mark Z. Jacobson
Roadmaps to Convert 139 Countries of the World to Wind,
Water, and Sunlight (WWS) for all purposes
Help develop 100% clean,
renewable energy roadmaps for cities and towns worldwide for use by
policymakers, including in the Green New Deal and city and town planners.
Faculty: Stephen Monismith
Study of reef
environments of Palau
This would be field work measuring currents and
temperatures etc. to by conducted in Palau and would be initiated during the
2019 BOSP Palau seminar (late June/early July). Exposure to fluid mechanics and
Matlab would be helpful. Participation in the Palau seminar would be required.
Environment – Structures and Construction :
Faculty: Rishee Jain
This project aims to design, analyze, and test a
cyber-physical and human-in-the-loop enabled control system that can drive
sustained energy savings in commercial buildings. It brings together expertise
in computational building science, eco-feedback, network theory, data science,
and control systems to integrate physical building information and inhabitants
with cyber (building-human) interaction models to enable intelligent control of
commercial building systems.
As a UG research summer intern, you will have the
opportunity to help deploy sensing devices in our test-bed buildings on campus
and in San Francisco (you may need to travel to San Francisco via Caltrain on
occasion). Additionally, you will also
have the opportunity to assist a PhD student in basic data analytic procedures
of the data (including but not limited to cleansing, checking,
visualization). No coursework is
required but a basic understanding of a scripting language (Matlab, Python, R)
will help you hit the ground running.
Faculty: Sarah Billington
cement-based materials for improved building performance
We are exploring the use biochar, a plentiful, waste
product from industrial processes as an additive in cement-based materials. The
materials can be used as a building facade material to provide thermal
insulation, moisture regulation, pollution filtration and vegetative growth.
The scope of work for the research student would mainly constitute work in the
lab, assisting with preparing specimens, carrying out tests and analyzing the
ductility and sustainability of damage-tolerant concrete
In this project, we are evaluating the flexural
behavior of steel reinforced damage-tolerant concrete members. The
damage-tolerant concrete is ideal for long-span bridges and structures that
need earthquake resistance as well as resistance to cracking and reinforcement
corrosion. We are also exploring the effect of replacing one of the
constituents of the material, fly ash with recycled glass powder as a
"greener"" option. Students will fabricate specimens and perform
testing of flexural behavior, bond of steel reinforced ductile/damage-tolerant
concrete, and material property testing. Expected work may include lab work, advanced
3D micro-CT scanning, data analysis, and
Physical+Digital Spaces for Enhanced Human Wellbeing
We may not often think about it, but we are constantly
influenced by the built environment that surrounds us in our daily lives. And
as engineers, we get the chance to shape the buildings and infrastructures
around us! Our interdisciplinary research team is developing methods to
quantify the impact of various design decisions on wellbeing first in
controlled lab conditions and, second, in the real offices of our corporate
partners, through beta design implementations. Summer research responsibilities
will include collecting and analyzing data from various experiments in our
office and lab set-ups. Additional responsibilities may include assisting with
planning future lab experiments and designing deployable design implementations
for field testing.
Faculty: Michael Lepech
Composites for Space Construction
Biopolymer-bound Soil Composites (BSC) are a novel
material developed by NASA and Stanford for the construction of critical
infrastructure in extraterrestrial environments like the Moon and Mars. At the
moment we are studying the impact of manufacturing variables in the mechanical
properties of the material aided by computational modeling. The student can
expect to take part in experimental work at the Blume Earthquake Center
supplemented by data analysis and computational modeling using new and previous
data. No prior coursework is required but courses in solid mechanics and
engineering materials will be helpful in data analysis.
Faculty: Jack Baker
Disaster resilience -
earthquake damage mapping
After an earthquake, a city's resilience partly depends
on the level of physical damage caused by the event. Decision makers,
therefore, require information on the locations and severity of building damage
in order to make response and recovery plans. This project will support the development
of a novel method to rapidly create maps of post-earthquake building damage
using multiple forms of geospatial data (remote sensing, field surveys, etc).
We have tested this method with the 2015 Nepal earthquake as a proof of concept
but would like to apply it to other countries that have also been recently
affected by an earthquake. By examining the applicability of this method in
various locations, we can demonstrate its usability for estimating building
damage sooner after future earthquakes.
As the undergraduate researcher, you can expect to
compile emerging data sources and perform exploratory analysis on building
damage from other earthquakes. Basic coding and data analysis experience are
desirable, and a background in GIS is a plus.