Undergraduate Research Program

Applications are no longer being accepted for 2024.
We will be offering this program again in the future. To be notified of future calls for applications, fill out this form.

10 undergraduate scholars jumping outside


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 funded 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 Performance mentors as part of a full time, in-person, 10-week fellowship in the summer.
    See examples of research projects from our 2022 scholars or our 2023 scholars.
  • Join a diverse community of leaders, researchers, and trainees who are passionate about improving human performance and supporting others in entering this field.

Join us for a seminar on human performance and a chance to meet potential mentors

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

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

Key dates for the 2024 Wu Tsai Human Performance Undergraduate Research Program

Application deadline 11:59 pm PT on January 12, 2024
Notification of award End of February 2024
Program start date Spring quarter, 2024
Class period 10-week course, Spring quarter 2024
Funded research period 10-week in-person research session, Summer 2024,
(June 24 – August 30, 2024) with a $7500 stipend
Summer Research Symposium 4-6pm, August 27, 2024

A Day in the Life of an Undergraduate Scholar

Experience a day in the life of Stanford undergraduate and Wu Tsai Human Performance Undergraduate Scholar Carly Mae Smith ’23, as she conducts summer research in the Heller Lab.

Watch the full video


Step 1: Applicants select a mentor. A list of potential mentors is provided, though applicants may apply with faculty not on the list. Mentors will be expected to provide a lab space, desk, and support for the scholar’s research project.

Step 2: Applicant and their mentor develop a description of a research project that will advance human performance and mentor completes a Training and Mentorship Plan for applicant. The applicant must upload this completed plan as part of their application in SlideRoom.

Step 3: Submit the full application through SlideRoom. See below for more information.


Application materials include:

  • Resume (max 1 page)
  • Academic Transcript (unofficial is fine)
  • Training and Mentorship Plan completed by faculty mentor. It is the student’s responsibility to provide mentors early notice of this plan.
    1. See “Faculty Mentor Eligibility” and “Instructions for Faculty Mentors” sections below for more details.
    2. 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 recommend working on this with your faculty mentor. This does not have to be a completely independent research project; it can 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.

Be sure to click “submit” when you have completed your application and look out for a confirmation email from SlideRoom.



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

  • Two-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), in-person research in the student’s host lab(s) during the summer, with a $7500 stipend.
  • In-person participation in weekly meetings on campus throughout the summer.
  • 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, and are expected to be in-person in their lab.

We will review all completed applications on the potential of:

  • the proposed research to advance the science of human performance
  • the proposed project and mentorship to develop deep scientific inquiry and rigor within the student, as well as train and support them for a career in human performance
  • the student to contribute to the program’s scholarship, community, and growth


  • 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.
  • Find a mentor whose research interests align with yours. We have created a directory of faculty who have volunteered to be mentors or who are Faculty Affiliates of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance.
  • 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. 
  • The mentor must be a Faculty Affiliate of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Stanford, or willing to become a Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance Faculty Affiliate. 
  • Mentors and/or members of their lab (e.g., graduate students, postdoctoral fellows) are expected to provide weekly feedback on the undergraduate students’ research proposals as part of the Spring class and to meet regularly during the Spring and Summer quarters.
  • Mentors will be expected to provide a lab space, desk, and support for the scholar’s research project.


  • Faculty should complete and sign the Training and Mentorship Plan and return it to the student, who will upload the plan to the SlideRoom application portal by the application deadline, 11:59pm on January 12, 2024.
  • 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, in-person 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 seminar on human performance and a chance to meet potential faculty mentors and other members of our community.

We are hosting watch parties (lunch included!) for our bi-weekly  research talks highlighting cutting edge research from experts in human performance. Following the talks, our team will be available to discuss how to get involved with the Alliance and after the October 27th seminar we will have a specific session on the undergraduate program.

Our seminars will run 12-1:30pm on the following Fridays:

  • October 13, 2023 | Hiroshi Asahara and Gabriella Lindberg
    • Hiroshi Asahara (Scripps Research) will share a talk on Athletic Giftedness and Genetics – Functional enhancement for physical performance via Piezo1-Mkx axis in tendon 
    • Gabriella Lindberg (University of Oregon) will share a talk on Biofabrication of Patient-Centric Joint Tissue Models
  • October 27, 2023 | Rob Knight and Ramla Najjar and Iskander Moshni
    • Rob Knight (UCSD) will share a talk on The human microbiome and its implications for health and disease
    • Ramla Najjar & Iskander Moshni (Bowerman Sports Science Center, University of Oregon) will share a talk on Numerical simulation of Achilles tendon under static and dynamic loading
  • November 17, 2023 | Malene Lindholm and second speaker details coming soon 
    • Malene Lindholm (Stanford University) will share a talk on omics and performance
  • December 8, 2023 | Brianne Connizzo (Boston University) and Candace Hogue (University of Minnesota)
    • Brianne Connizzo will share a talk on Decoupling innate and hormonally-regulated sex differences in tendon health and function
    • Candace Hogue will share a talk on How Leader Behaviors and Mental Skills Training May Help Athletes Thrive Psychologically and Physiologically

Food will be provided, so please register below. 

Register here

Sign up for our mailing list to learn more about events


  • 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 before the end of the Fall quarter.

  • 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 you plan to use 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 if I am studying abroad in the Spring quarter and/or can’t take the course BIOE190 in-person?

The BIOE190 class is very participatory and active in-person so we cannot accommodate students who cannot attend live and on campus as it wouldn’t be as full of an experience for you or for the other scholars.

  • What dates does the program run in the summer quarter? 

The program orientation will be on the first day of the Summer 2024 quarter, June 24, 2024 (according to the Stanford Academic Calendar). The program will run for 10 weeks, and students work out details of their research schedule during those weeks with their faculty mentors.


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


Tips from past Scholars

100% of our scholars from past years would recommend this program to a friend. Here’s some tips from them to you:

  • Don’t be scared if you don’t know what’s going on sometimes. You will figure it out.
  • Truly invest in this community and make the most out of your time. The Alliance is built to foster interdisciplinary conversations, so use that aspect to explore your interests.
  • Get involved in your lab community, don’t be afraid to ask others besides your mentors for help!
  • Connect with other lab members to hear about their experiences.
  • Believe in yourself, you’ll progress in your academic and research career along the way. Whenever you fall don’t be afraid to stand back up.
  • Don’t undersell your passion or abilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to do something wrong, that’s what research is about. Coming in, I was so afraid to mess up or do something wrong. Over time I learned that research is just a process of trial and error, and your support system will be with you the whole time.

Learn about the 2022 scholars and their research projects

Get Engaged

We invite faculty, students, staff, alumni, friends, and external organizations to participate in the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Stanford.