The program on Urban Studies is delighted to announce our Departmental Research Program. This program provides funding for selected undergraduates to work on faculty-led research projects. Students will receive mentorship and supervision from the faculty member overseeing their project. 

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Urban Studies Departmental Research Program 2024

Students will also participate in cohort events with the other student researchers to discuss their ongoing research, build their research skills, and enhance a sense of community. Information about these opportunities can be found below. 

Quarters Available:

Winter, Spring, or Summer Quarters.

Winter and Spring Quarters. Part-time projects are available. Part-time projects are expected to occupy approximately 10 hours per week. Check listings below by clicking the heading for the quarter you are interested in.

Summer. Both part-time and full-time projects will be available.

  • Full-time means devoting 35+ hours/week for 10 consecutive weeks, i.e., it is the student's primary activity that quarter.
  • Students with a full time grant cannot receive an additional VPUE part-time grant within the same quarter.
  • Full-time VPUE Faculty/Department Grant student recipients are not permitted to engage in another full-time internship, job, or volunteer opportunity (whether funded by Stanford or otherwise), unless their faculty mentors or program mentors have approved these arrangements.

Enrollment & Academic Standing

  • Students must be current undergraduates in good standing at Stanford.
  • Students must be enrolled in units while using VPUE grant funding, except during the Summer. 
  • Students may not receive both academic units and a stipend for any single project activity.
  • Co-terms who have not conferred their undergraduate degree and who are still paying undergraduate (not graduate) tuition are eligible for VPUE funding.
  • Students may not be serving a suspension.
  • Students may not be on a Leave of Absence (LOA) while using grant funding. 
  • VPUE does not use a GPA requirement for student eligibility, nor does VPUE encourage the use of GPA as a criterion for inclusion in a research opportunity.

Stipend:

Part-time projects: $1500 per quarter; 10 hours / week.

Full-time projects: $7500 + up to $1500 based on financial need and student qualification. Read more about stipends.

Housing:

Participating in projects (whether part-time or full-time) does NOT make a student eligible to live on campus. 

Deadline for Spring & Summer Quarter applications: 

February 15th @ 11:59PM

For more information, contact Michael Kahan @mkahan [at] stanford.edu (mkahan[at]stanford[dot]edu)

2023-24 Research Projects for Undergraduate Participation 

Fall 2023: 

Gender-Based Violence in the Developing World (Faculty Leader: Beatriz Magaloni)

About: How can gender inequitable attitudes, norms and behaviors that lead to gender-based violence be altered? We seek to answer this question through an intervention targeting Mexican middle- and high school students in one of the most violent municipalities in the Greater Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the intervention provides students with tools of emotional regulation, identification of biases and stereotypes, and prosocial behavioral strategies that can diffuse otherwise violent attitudes and behaviors. The intervention also explores the potential of well connected students acting as social vehicles for positive changes to gender inequitable norms at the school level.

Research Tasks: The RA will help us clean, merge data, create visuals, documentation and ensuring replicability.

Winter 2024: 

Impact of Universities on Local Economies (Faculty Leader: Eric Bettinger)

About:  Universities not only create innovation. They also create a pool of qualified workers who can contribute to the local economy and thereby might attract businesses.

Research Tasks: Web searches and searching archives to verify opening dates and locations of branch campuses. Some data processing of census tract data on education levels.Qualifications: Comfortable with AI assisted web search. Some Stata would be a plus

An Apocrypha of Drowning: Six Medals on the History of Drowning (Faculty Leader: Lochlann Jain)

About: In Europe, drowning emerged as a notable form of accidental death in the mid-18th century. Humane Societies sprung up across the continent to advocate for reform including lighting, guard-railing, systems of rewards and penalties, and watchmen along waterways. “Apparently drowned” bodies, teetering between life and death, presented objects of fear, revulsion, and fascination and the advocates faced intense religious and scientific resistance in addition to their own organizational, educational, medical, and financial challenges. In the complex project of making drowning into a public health issue that could be solved, the minting, awarding, and presenting of lifesaving medals took center stage: saving someone from drowning would become a heroic act. One of the most energetic societies was the Royal Humane Society (RHS) of London (originally the Society for the Resuscitation of the Apparently Drowned, est.1774). The RHS medal features – to this day -- a child, naked but for the hint of a toga, blowing an extinguished torch. The inscription reads: Lateat Scintillula Forsan, which translates as Lest Some Spark Remain. Like others of this genre, the medal was specifically designed to appeal to a well-educated audience and to bring prestige to the notion of drowning resuscitation. "An Apocrypha of Drowning" integrates elements of lifesaving medals minted across Europe, such as mottos, wreaths, scenes, portraits, and insignias to unpack the paradoxes of sovereignty and value as they relate to the history of drowning. The project involves the design, casting, and display of six medals, each of which offers an artistic rendition of these medals

Research Tasks: The RA will assist in designing and realizing display boxes for the medals (up to a total of 12). The RA will have skills in printing, laser cutting, and 3D printing, and an interest in scene design. The RA will develop skills in using questions and methods of art practice to better understand and engage questions traditionally attended to in the social sciences.

Apply here.

Gender-Based Violence in the Developing World (Faculty Leader: Beatriz Magaloni)

About: How can gender inequitable attitudes, norms and behaviors that lead to gender-based violence be altered? We seek to answer this question through an intervention targeting Mexican middle- and high school students in one of the most violent municipalities in the Greater Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the intervention provides students with tools of emotional regulation, identification of biases and stereotypes, and prosocial behavioral strategies that can diffuse otherwise violent attitudes and behaviors. The intervention also explores the potential of well connected students acting as social vehicles for positive changes to gender inequitable norms at the school level.

Research Tasks: The RA will help us clean, merge data, create visuals, documentation and ensuring replicability.

Spring 2024: 

An Apocrypha of Drowning: Six Medals on the History of Drowning (Faculty Leader: Lochlann Jain)

About: In Europe, drowning emerged as a notable form of accidental death in the mid-18th century. Humane Societies sprung up across the continent to advocate for reform including lighting, guard-railing, systems of rewards and penalties, and watchmen along waterways. “Apparently drowned” bodies, teetering between life and death, presented objects of fear, revulsion, and fascination and the advocates faced intense religious and scientific resistance in addition to their own organizational, educational, medical, and financial challenges. In the complex project of making drowning into a public health issue that could be solved, the minting, awarding, and presenting of lifesaving medals took center stage: saving someone from drowning would become a heroic act. One of the most energetic societies was the Royal Humane Society (RHS) of London (originally the Society for the Resuscitation of the Apparently Drowned, est.1774). The RHS medal features – to this day -- a child, naked but for the hint of a toga, blowing an extinguished torch. The inscription reads: Lateat Scintillula Forsan, which translates as Lest Some Spark Remain. Like others of this genre, the medal was specifically designed to appeal to a well-educated audience and to bring prestige to the notion of drowning resuscitation. "An Apocrypha of Drowning" integrates elements of lifesaving medals minted across Europe, such as mottos, wreaths, scenes, portraits, and insignias to unpack the paradoxes of sovereignty and value as they relate to the history of drowning. The project involves the design, casting, and display of six medals, each of which offers an artistic rendition of these medals. 

Research Tasks: The RA will assist in designing and realizing display boxes for the medals (up to a total of 12). The RA will have skills in printing, laser cutting, and 3D printing, and an interest in scene design. The RA will develop skills in using questions and methods of art practice to better understand and engage questions traditionally attended to in the social sciences.

Application TBD. 

Summer 2024: 

Sustainable Housing Solutions (Faculty Leader: Sarah Billington)

About: Cities across the U.S. and particularly in California are facing affordable housing and climate change crises. The resulting burdens from climate adaptation are likely to fall on low-income and marginalized populations with greater sensitivities to exposure and the fewest resources to adapt. Recent federal legislation (Inflation Reduction Act of 2022) includes authorization of $8.8 billion in rebates for home energy efficiency and home electrification projects and $1 billion to make America’s affordable housing stock more energy efficient. These well-intended environmental policies and programs are getting passed and being implemented without careful examination of their downstream impacts on affordable housing residents. In partnership with the local non-profit Chinatown Community Development Center, we are evaluating how the outcomes of these and similar programs are impacting the daily lives and well-being of low-income renters within Bay Area communities. Our aim is to deliver a set of recommendations for municipalities and developers to implement that support the wellbeing of low-income renters and reduce negative impacts of new policies and retrofits. This research includes (1) quantitative and qualitative examinations of unintended consequences and impacts on low-income renters affected by sustainability upgrades through surveys and interviews with residents, and (2) developing metrics for characterizing well-being impacts of sustainable building retrofit measures.

Research Tasks: There is a diverse list of tasks the student might help with such as (1) conducting a literature review that looks at a range of fields, including affordable housing, sustainability, and public policy, (2) collecting, organizing, and visualizing survey data sets using programming languages such as R, (3) qualitatively coding and analyzing interview transcripts, and (4) learning to give technical presentations and provide brief technical write-ups of their work.

Systems Navigator Project with the Santa Clara County Public Defender (Faculty Leader: Matthew Clair)

About: I am seeking a full-time undergraduate RA who will work with my team in summer 2024 as we pilot a "Systems Navigator" intervention in the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender. A Systems Navigator is a novel position within a public defender's office that seeks to improve communication and collaboration between lawyers and their clients. Our innovative project is based on my early research on mistrust in attorney-client relationships as well as my current work with the Court Listening Project (https://www.courtlisteningproject.org/).

Research Tasks: The RA would be tasked with serving as one of two Systems Navigators in summer 2024. Working and researching as a Systems Navigator will involve calling clients, helping to ensure they are aware of their pretrial conditions, helping them procure character letters and statements, and supporting them in court. RAs will develop several skills throughout the summer, including: learning about a public defender's office, working directly with system-impacted people, and taking part in a policy-relevant research intervention.

Educational Opportunity Project (EOP) and Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) (Faculty Leader: Sean Reardon)

About: The Educational Opportunity Project (EOP) at Stanford University uses a range of data on educational conditions, contexts, and outcomes to help scholars, policy makers, educators, and the general public learn about the landscape of educational opportunity and academic achievement in the US. The EOP houses two main initiatives: 1. The Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA): SEDA is the first 11-year national database of academic performance based on nearly 450 million 3-8th grade math and reading and language arts test scores from the 2008-2019 school years. We hope that researchers, practitioners, and policy makers will utilize SEDA to generate evidence about what policies and practices are most effective at increasing educational opportunity. 2. EOP NYSED Equity Indicators Project: We are partnering with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to construct a series of equity indicators using longitudinal teacher, student, and staff level data. These indicators will help us better understand the landscape of educational equity across NY state and inform system-level changes to improve equitable access to educational opportunity.

Research Tasks: The EOP RA will be responsible for assisting on current projects that include the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), the EOP NYSED Equity Indicators Project, and/or work on the Segregation Index project, an initiative jointly run by Professor Reardon and Professor Ann Owens at USC. The RA may also have the opportunity to research and prepare a report on their own topic of interest related to the work of the EOP – past topics include educational opportunity in Puerto Rico, student opt-out, and broadband access. Tasks may include: Conducting online background research on relevant topics and writing literature reviews; collecting, cleaning, and organizing data for preliminary analyses; producing memos and data reports for various projects; collaborating with EOP research staff, partners, and other RAs; outreach (via email, phone, and conference calls) to stakeholders; supporting the promotion of the EOP's work through social media and the EOP website.

Bodega: A History (Faculty Leader: Pedro Regalado)

About: Bodega: A History explores the iconic storefront’s evolution in New York City. 

Research Tasks: Throughout the summer of 2024, the RA will research advertisements and stories in the Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 database, the largest collection of Spanish-language newspapers printed in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries, and other online sources. Depending on what they find, we may switch gears and consider sources on bodegas during the mid to late nineteenth century. The RA will thus get the opportunity to read and interpret primary sources that will enrich their historical methods.

Tackling Residential Instability in Oakland (Faculty Leader: Jackelyn Hwang)

About:  This project examines how gentrification and declining housing affordability affect residential instability in Oakland. The RA will join a team of researchers collecting and analyzing application, interview, and survey data from low-income renters and large-scale mobility data to better understand residential instability and assess the impacts of a homelessness prevention program in partnership with the City of Oakland's Department of Housing and Community Development. The RA will assist in these efforts and contribute to communicating findings to policymakers and stakeholders.

Research Tasks:  The RA will assist with the following activities: (1) conducting surveys and interviews; (2) cleaning and analyzing application, survey, and interview data; and (3) developing policy reports and academic publications. RAs will be trained in how to conduct and analyze surveys and interviews and will gain experience with program evaluation, developing policy recommendations, and translating insights for public and academic audiences.

Gender-Based Violence in the Developing World (Poverty, Violence, and Governance Lab)

About: The Poverty, Violence, and Governance Lab is hiring full-time undergraduate Research Assistants (RAs) for the '24 summer quarter. You will work on our current research on gender-based violence in conflict zones. Specifically, you will help map the presence of drug cartels in Mexico based on news sources in Spanish. Spanish proficiency is required. Other adhoc tasks may include literature reviews, cleaning data, help compile data-sets, help write literature reviews, support with survey design, help with data analysis.

What we are looking for in our RAs:   

- Discipline, independence and ability to deliver results under strict deadlines.

- Demonstrated interest in violence, poverty and governance in general.

- Previous work experience as a Research Assistant.

- Major in a relevant field of social sciences: Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Journalism, Latin American Studies, Computer Science.

- Ability to remain motivated despite the repetitive nature of the validation process.

You will be working with a team of dedicated scholars whose mission is to innovative methodologies and data streams to generate scientific understanding about the causes, consequences, and dynamics of violence. We aim with our research to contribute to restore peace, security, and protect human rights.Please submit your application before April 26, 23.59 PM (PT) by filling out this form. 

Apply here.