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Frequently Asked Questions

The slides from  the November 30, 2023 Physics Research Program Informational Session are here.

Part 1 of the application is now live.

  1. Are Engineering Physics majors eligible for this program?
    Yes, provided you work with a faculty member in Physics, Applied Physics or SLAC.  If you wish to work with a faculty member in the Engineering School, you should apply to appropriate  Engineering department's summer research program.
  2. Are there opportunities available for external/non-Stanford students?
    Yes, we have two opportunities for external physics students: the Cal-Bridge program, and the Leadership Alliance Summer Research - Early Identification Program (SR-EIP). The School of Engineering also has their own SURF program.  
  3. Can I apply if I have no research experience?
    Most definitely.  Everyone starts somewhere.  There are a number of faculty who will take on beginning students with the intent of providing training.   What is required is curiosity, initiative, and a willingness to learn and grow as a researcher.  Look carefully at the preferences in terms of skills and courses listed for each faculty member in the table of Summer Research Positions.  
  4. Do I have to be a declared Physics/Engineering Physics major to apply?
    Priority will be given to declared Physics and Engineering Physics majors who have declared on Axess by the application deadline.  The exception is that first-year students need not be declared majors -- exploring physics through research is part of how you can evaluate if Physics/Eng.Physics is the right major for you.  Otherwise, if you have a particular reason for not declaring, mention it in your application, or consult with nanavati [at] (Chaya Nanavati), Academic Director of the Program, prior to submitting your application.
  5. What if I want to work with a faculty member who is not listed in the table of Summer Research Positions?
    You can work with any faculty in Physics/AppliedPhysics/SLAC  who are not listed in the table.  The table itself consists of faculty members who are actively looking for students, but other faculty are often open to hiring undergraduate researchers. The Physics Research Program provides funding directly to Physics/Eng Physics majors, not to faculty. Thus you are welcome to find other faculty members to work with, subject to FAQ #6, below.  Links to the faculty lists are here.
  6. What if I want to work with a faculty member outside of Physics, Applied Physics or SLAC?
    Under certain circumstances, Physics/Engineering Physics majors can work with a faculty member outside Physics/AP/SLAC:
    • You can work with any faculty member who appears in the table of Summer Research Positions, even if they are not in Physics/AP/SLAC.  These latter faculty are physicists by training and conduct substantially physics-related research.
    • If the faculty member is in a department with its own summer research program, you must seek primary support from the other department; this is especially true for faculty in Engineering departments.  You may apply to the Physics Research program as a backup.
    • Your topic should be closely related to physics (e.g., biophysics, medical physics) and you must be directly involved in research;
    • If you are interested in conducting Biophysics or medical physics research over the summer quarter, we strongly encourage you to apply to  boththe Bio-X program (deadline January 18, 2024) and the Physics research program (deadline January 19, 2024).  
    • If we have more applicants than we can support, priority will be given to students working with Physics/Applied Physics/SLAC faculty, all other things being equal.
    • If you are considering working for a faculty member outside Physics, Applied Physics or SLAC, it's important to consult with Chaya Nanavati and Ben Feldman before finalizing your application.
  7. Do I have to be available for the full ten weeks?
    Yes, you should be here for the 10 official weeks so that you can participate fully in all activities associated with the Physics/AP/SLAC Summer Research Program. If there are particular circumstances that prevent you from attending these weeks, mention them in your application or consult with Chaya Nanavati and Ben Feldman prior to submitting your application.
  8. In addition to participating in the program, can I work or volunteer part-time or full-time this summer?  No.  This will be a full-time pursuit over the ten weeks of the summer. 
  9. What are the selection priorities in the event there are more applicants than funding?
     All other things being equal, priority will be given to students who have not received support through the Physics/AP/SLAC program in previous years.  Priority order is as follows:
                     (*) -- apply for Student Major Grant funding if possible
                     (**) -- must apply for Student Major Grant
    •         Rising seniors with no prior funding through the Physics summer research program (*)
    •         Rising juniors with no prior funding through the Physics summer research program
    •         Current freshmen and rising sophomores with no prior funding through the Physics summer research program
    •         Rising juniors with prior funding through the Physics summer research program
    •         Rising seniors with prior funding through the Physics summer research program (**)
  10. Can I apply for research in physics if I am a rising 5th year or coterminal student?
    Rising 5th year or Physics coterminal students will have the same priority for funding as rising seniors (see #8 above). However, funding is not available for coterminal students who have received their B.S. degree or have already entered their Graduate program (this is indicated on your transcript).
  11. Can I apply if I was already supported through this program for summer research in Physics in a previous year?
    Yes, although your priority for funding is lower.  Note that:
    • Rising seniors/coterms who have received support in 1 or 2 prior years are required to apply for a VPUE Student Major Grant from Academic Advising. You are still encouraged to apply to this Physics/AP/SLAC program in case we have additional funding.
    • However, rising seniors/coterms who have received support in 2 prior years will not receive funding from this program; this is due to limited funding, not because we don't like you.  You still must apply for a VPUE Student Major Grant, but also investigate other sources of support, starting with your faculty research mentor. Note that VPUE Student Major Grant applications require a serious effort including literature review and a faculty support letter. Our students have a high success rate for these grants, but if you throw the application together the weekend before it's due, you'll likely not succeed.
  12. By submitting an application to the physics research program, am I committed to the program if I am accepted? What if I want to apply to other Stanford programs or to research opportunities outside Stanford?
    You are not committing to the program by applying, and are in fact encouraged to explore multiple programs since we cannot guarantee funding for all interested students. If you are accepted, you will be asked to commit around the start of Spring quarter.
  13. Do I have to live on campus while in the program?
    No, you don't have to live on campus. If you are interested in living on campus, see the web page for Summer Housing
  14. Does the grant also cover living expenses?
    You must pay your own living expenses out of the stipend. This can be either in on-campus Summer Housing or anywhere else you choose to live.
  15. Are there other criteria for participating in the Physics Research Program?
    To participate in the 2024 Physics Research Program,
  • You must be a current undergraduate in good standing;
  • You cannot be on a Leave of Absence nor can you be serving a suspension ;
  • You must participate in all the workshops and talks that we offer as part of the program, including the final presentations;
  • You cannot have another full-time committment of any kind, funded or volunteer, inside or outside Stanford.