Undergraduate Research Program

Application Materials


Almost all of what we know about health comes from the study of disease or injury. The Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance takes the opposite approach: we are studying peak human performance, with the goal of enabling all people to achieve optimal health and well-being. This collaborative effort brings together multiple disciplines, including biology, psychology, engineering, and medicine to understand and advance human health. We will translate these scientific discoveries into practical approaches that improve the performance of all individuals. 

The Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance Undergraduate Research Program is an opportunity open to all Stanford undergraduate students to explore the field of human performance through a research experience. Through the program, students will:

  • Participate in the course, “Design Thinking for Research in Human Performance” (Spring, no prerequisites) to learn about the field of human performance and the research process, to engage with expert faculty, and write a proposal for summer research.
  • Carry out their proposed research with the mentorship and guidance of Wu Tsai Human Performance mentors as part of a 10-week fellowship in the summer. 
  • Join a diverse community of leaders, researchers, and trainees who are passionate about improving human performance and supporting others in entering this field.

Students must apply in collaboration with at least one faculty member. 

Join one of our information sessions to learn more!

All Stanford undergraduate students are welcome to apply. Students who do not have previous research experience or are from underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply. 


Key dates for the 2022 Wu Tsai Human Performance Undergraduate Research Program

Application deadline 11:59 pm PT on January 18, 2022 (extended deadline)
Faculty Training & Mentorship Plan deadline 11:59 pm PT on January 23, 2022 (extended deadline)
Notification of award End of February 2022
Program start date Spring quarter, 2022
Class period 10-week course, Spring quarter 2022
Funded research period 10-week research session, Summer 2022, with a $7500 stipend


Application materials include:

  • Resume
  • Academic Transcript (unofficial is fine)
  • Indication of commitment from an eligible faculty member
    1. Students are required to list a faculty mentor. We will then email the proposed mentors to have them submit a Training and Mentorship Plan. It is the student’s responsibility to provide mentors notice by January 4, 2022 that they will be listing them in the application portal.
    2. See “Faculty Mentor Eligibility” and “Instructions for Faculty Mentors” sections below for more details.
    3. For more about obtaining a faculty mentor, refer to the section on “Connecting with a Faculty Mentor” below.
  • Short answer questions (maximum of 1500 characters or approximately 250 words for each response)
    1. Please provide a brief description of the proposed research project and how it relates to human performance. We strongly recommend working on this with your faculty mentor. This does not have to be a completely independent research project and will likely be a current project of interest in your faculty mentor’s lab. We will help you to craft a research proposal in the Spring course.
    2. Why are you interested in participating in this program? Include reason(s) you selected your faculty mentor, and if applicable, relevant past experiences and future goals.
    3. We wish to welcome a cohort of students who have a diversity of experiences and skills. Share something about yourself or your experiences that you feel allows you to bring a unique perspective to the program.


Undergraduate students must agree to participate in all program elements, including:

  • Three-unit spring quarter course “Design Thinking in Human Performance Research” where they will write a research proposal for planned summer research.
  • 10 weeks of full-time (40 hrs/week) research in the student’s host lab(s) during the summer, with a $7500 stipend.
  • Research Symposium presentation at the end of the summer.

Students must be current undergraduates in good standing at Stanford:

  • Students may not be on a Leave of Absence (LOA) while using grant funding. LOA Students may apply for funding only if they will return from leave and meet all other eligibility requirements by the beginning of the funded project.
  • Students will be eligible for full time project support only in the summer quarter. “Full-time” means that the student’s only major commitment is the project; students are expected to spend 40 hours per week over the entire 10-week period on the project.


  • It is important to build a good relationship with your faculty mentor, as this will be the foundation for your research project and could be a lasting connection throughout your career.
  • Your undergraduate academic advisor is a great resource for helping you connect with faculty.
  • Find a mentor whose research interests align with yours. The Faculty Affiliates of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance are one source of potential mentors. Learn more about their research areas.
  • Reach out to potential mentors via their listed contact. Keep the correspondence brief:  introduce yourself, and explain how your interests align with theirs. Ask if they are interested in hosting an undergraduate student in their lab for the summer.
  • Set up a meeting with interested mentors. Prepare for the meeting by reading recent publications, news, or listening to their talks. It’s helpful to have a list of questions prepared. This shows you are interested in their work. This is a great opportunity to ask your faculty mentor about potential research projects.
  • There are additional resources available from Stanford Undergraduate Research.


  • All projects supported by a Wu Tsai Human Performance Undergraduate Research Award must be conducted under the guidance of a Stanford Faculty Mentor. Your project may draw upon the guidance of additional mentors.
  • The mentor must be a Faculty Affiliate of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Stanford.
  • See all Faculty Affiliates on the website of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Stanford and learn more about their research areas here. Students may reach out to individuals not on the Faculty Affiliates list, as long as the faculty member’s research is related to human performance and the faculty member is willing to become a Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance Faculty Affiliate. 


  • Faculty should check their email for a notification with the subject line “Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance recommendation request from [Student Name] for Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance Undergraduate Research Program”. This email will contain a link with instructions for uploading the Training and Mentorship Plan
  • The completed Training and Mentorship Plan is due at 11:59pm on January 23, 2022 (about one week after the application deadline).
  • Be mindful that this might be the first research experience for this student. It is important to be thoughtful about how to equip them with the skills to do excellent research, introduce them to your field, and integrate them in your community. 


Trainees will receive a stipend for 10 weeks of full-time research during summer quarter. The stipend amount is determined in accordance with guidelines released by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and is $7500. We are aware that many students experience some degree of financial need that could impact their ability to engage in research; trainees determined by the Financial Aid Office to have financial need will be eligible for additional support. 


Join us for a virtual Q&A Session: Meet some of our team, learn more about the program, and ask any questions you might have.


Join us for a virtual information session or in-person meet-and-greet on campus!

Virtual Information Sessions: We will share an overview of the program, research highlights from current faculty, and tips on how to get involved and build a strong application.

In-person Meet-and-Greets: Meet members of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance to learn more about the range of human performance research being conducted here at Stanford and how you can get involved.

  • Both meet-and-greets have passed. Thank you to all who attended, it was great to connect.


  • When should I start reaching out to faculty mentors?
    The sooner the better. You want to give them ample time to get to know you to see if you are a good match for one another, discuss a potential project, and come up with a training plan. We suggest you confirm with your selected faculty member by January 4, 2022 before entering their name into the application portal as your mentor.
  • How many faculty members should I reach out to?
    Reaching out to multiple faculty will give you a better chance of connecting with a mentor.
  • What if I emailed a faculty member and I do not hear back from them?
    Reaching out to graduate students or postdocs in the lab can also be a great way to connect with faculty members and get to know if you are a good fit for the lab.
  • What should I include in my brief description of the proposed research project?
    We strongly recommend working on the brief description of the proposed research project with your faculty mentor. Generally it would be helpful to provide the research question, a brief background on the importance of the question, the proposed method used to answer the question (likely this will be a method in which your faculty mentor and their lab specialize), an ideal result, and the potential impact on or relation to human performance. Remember this is a brief description (max 250 words), and that you will spend the Spring quarter refining your research proposal in the course with guidance from the teaching team and your faculty mentor, so many of the details will come later.
  • What if my project does not relate to human performance?
    A strong application will include a description of a proposed research project that relates to human performance.
  • Is housing included?
    Housing costs are not included in the $7500 stipend.
  • What dates does the program run in the summer quarter?
    The program orientation will be on the first day of the Summer 2022 quarter, June 20, 2022 (according to the Stanford Academic Calendar). The program will then run for 10 weeks, and students can work out details of their research schedule with their faculty mentors.
  • Will remote projects be considered?
    We expect the program to be able to run in-person, if you are proposing a remote project, please provide a brief rationale as to why you would like to conduct a remote project.
  • Are there prerequisites?
    There are no prerequisites for participation in our program, however your faculty mentor may have different requirements. Since you apply to the program with a faculty mentor, you can discuss this with them and could take the Winter and Spring quarters to prepare before starting your research in the Summer. 
  • What are some typical tasks I can expect to do in my research project?
    This will depend on the nature of your research project. Some examples of tasks you may do include analyzing data from wearable motion sensors, writing code to control an exoskeleton to help someone walk with less energetic cost, or helping to set up and execute wet lab experiments. You will likely learn a lot of foundational skills at the start, and then work toward conducting your own experiments and research.


Email Johanna O’Day at human-performance@stanford.edu.


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