Skip to content Skip to navigation

Summer Program

Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Summer Research Program

Summer 2016

Application Deadline: Monday, March 21, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.

Undergraduates from other schools (outside of Stanford) should see the research opportunities provided by the Office of Science Outreach.

The Chemical Engineering Summer Research Program is a 10-week program for current Stanford University undergraduate students.  The purpose of the program is to provide students who have identified a specific research project the opportunity to work one-on-one within a research group.

Students will receive a $6,400 stipend that can be used to pay for the cost of housing, meals, supplies and transportation. This is a 10-week, 40-hour per week program held June 13 – August 19, 2016 (exceptions may be arranged with research advisor).

Students interested in applying must write a proposal of up to 1,500 words (not counting references or figure captions) addressing three key points:

  1. Who is the faculty member you plan to work with over the summer, and who will serve as your immediate supervisor (e.g., will you work directly with a graduate student or postdoc)? Have you contacted this faculty, and have you identified a specific research project?**
  2. Describe the precise goal of the project. What specific question will be answered, or what hypothesis will be tested? What themes do you want to explore? What is the potential broad impact of the project?
  3. How will this project benefit your future career goals?

Please also provide an unofficial transcript. We also ask that you have one (1) letter of reference (preferably from your host faculty) for this application.

Please send the proposal electronically to, by 4 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2016 with the subject line “VPUE application – your last name.”

Please have your reference letter writer submit their letter directly to, by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 with the subject line “VPUE reference last-name” (Please note that the unofficial transcript due date has been extended so that Winter quarter grades can be posted).

Please send an unofficial transcript electronically to, by 4 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2016

Announcement of awards will be made on Friday, April 8, 2016.

**Students who do not have a research project formed have the opportunity to apply to one of the faculty research projects listed below.

Cheme-VPUE Summer Research Faculty Projects 2016


Cargnello lab project #1: fundamental understanding of the role of promoters on palladium-based catalysts for methane activation. The student will prepare model catalysts composed of a high-surface area support, monodisperse palladium nanocrystals and a promoter in the form of a metal oxide. These systems will be systematically characterized and investigated for the methane combustion reaction, and structure-activity relationships will be obtained to establish a correlation between metal-promoter structure and catalytic activity. The results of this project can profoundly improve our knowledge of how to prepare better catalytic materials for abating methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from combustion processes.


Cargnello lab project #2: fundamental understanding of electrochemical ammonia production using transition metal nitrides. The student will prepare nanoscale transition metal nitrides, either supported or unsupported. The materials will be incorporated into electrodes and tested for the electrochemical ammonia production. Structure-activity relationships will be obtained to establish a correlation between nitride structure and composition and catalytic activity. The results of this project can profoundly improve our knowledge of how to prepare catalytic materials for the production of ammonia, one of the most important chemicals in industry, at low temperature and pressure.


Qin lab project #1: all-atom simulation of a semiconducting polymer. Waste heats generated from industries and home usages can be reclaimed by using thermoelectric materials to convert thermal energy into electricity. This student will perform all-atom computer simulations for an emerging thermoelectric polymeric materials, PEDOT:PSS, that exhibits surprisingly high energy conversion rate, is cost-effective, and is scalable. The goal is to use computer modeling and simulation to get molecular scale conformational informations that are not readily obtained from experiments and that are needed for understanding the structure-property relationship. Students will be exposed to the use of state-of-the-art simulation package, to the basic of programming and scripting, and to the visualization and analysis of big data sets.


Qin lab project #2: ion interactions in structured electrolytes. Solid polymer electrolytes are found as separation membranes for lithium ion battery in some modern electronic devices. The student will contribute to the rational design of an emerging type of solid polymer electrolytes based on block copolymers. The block copolymers contain a functional and a structural component, are doped with lithium salts, and can spontaneously assembling themselves into periodic domains. This project combines analytical modeling with computer simulation to understand the interaction of ions in such structured electrolytes. Students will be exposed to the use of Mathematica and Python, for solving challenging problems by using numerical calculations and molecular visualization.


Sattely lab project #1: How plants modify their cell wall. Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on earth and represents a critically underutilized biomass resource for hydrocarbon feedstocks. Despite substantial effort, lignocellulose remains a recalcitrant feedstock for renewable energy production. One approach is to engineer plants to make lignin easier to break down as an early step in a biorefinery process. However, how lignin is made and incorporated into the plant cell wall is still not well understood. Furthermore, there is evidence that plants can modify their own cell wall during pathogen attack, which likely results in changes to the structure of the lignocellulose polymer. This is an exciting possibility that could allow us to use existing mechanisms in nature for lignin modification in order to engineer plants that have lignin with more desirable chemical properties (e.g. enhanced water solubility). This summer project will focus on specific molecules plants produce when they are confronted with pathogens and investigate how plants use these compounds to impact lignocellulose structure.


Fuller lab project #1: The stability of foams and emulsions is important to numerous processes and products. In some cases, such as beer foams and ice cream, the avoidance of short term collapse of foams is desired and additives are used to delay coalescence and enhance stability. However, foaming in lubricants must be avoided and for that reason, anti-foaming agents are added to these products to induce foam collapse. The Fuller laboratory has developed an instrument  that can following the dynamics of bubbles as that approach lubricant/air interfaces and measures, with great precision, the thickness of draining liquid films in space and time. We are currently collaborating with a major manufacturer of non-aqueous lubricants to elucidate the mechanism of how antifoaming agents initiate thin liquid film breakage and foam collapse. This project will introduce students to interfacial fluid mechanics, capillary forces, and high speed interferometry.

Click here to apply to one of these projects.

Application Deadline: Monday, March 21, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.