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Summer Undergraduate Program on Energy Research

Student applications for SUPER 2022 are due by 11:59pm on February 6, 2022.

There will be an info session via Zoom on February 1, 4:00-5:00pm PST. Please contact Sarah Weaver <sarah.weaver@stanford.edu> for the link.

The Precourt Institute for Energy's Summer Undergraduate Program on Energy Research (SUPER) internships provide undergraduates with opportunities to work on faculty-mentored, individualized energy research. Undergraduates delve deeply into one energy topic, while also learning about energy research across Stanford University. The program is designed to inspire students to consider energy as a field of study at Stanford and to prepare them to engage as professionals in solving this real world challenge.

2022 Program Features:

  • Stipend of $7,500 to support student researchers with supplemental stipend available based on financial need
  • On-campus research, if safety allows. Virtual alternatives will be available if needed.
  • Weekly seminar showcasing a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary energy research and discussing current energy news. Faculty will present their research as well as personal stories about how they decided to pursue research in energy.
  • Opportunities to connect with other undergraduates conducting research on-campus research through our sister programs: Stanford Earth Summer Undergraduate Research (SESUR), Mentoring Undergraduates in Interdisciplinary Research (MUIR), and Summer Undergraduate Research in Geoscience and Engineering (SURGE)
  • Students present results during fall term at the university's Symposia of Undergraduate Research and Public Service

Eligible students must be a Stanford undergraduate who will be enrolled in the 2022-23 academic year. Participants funded by the program are required to:

  • Undertake a research project during summer quarter: June 20 -- August 26
  • Write a blog post during their about their research
  • Meet with their faculty advisor weekly (every other week at a minimum). Postdoctoral fellows or advanced graduate students may serve as Energy Research Mentors.
  • Complete an online questionnaire on the SUPER experience
  • Write a research summary
  • Present their research at a poster presentation
  • Meet at least every other week with the undergraduate researcher to advise and adjust the work plan. In addition to faculty mentorship, postdoctoral fellows or advanced graduate students may serve as Energy Research Mentors and meet more frequently with the student
  • Actively include the undergraduate in your lab or research community
  • Participate by giving a talk at a lunchtime seminar, if invited
  • Complete an online questionnaire on the SUPER experience

We are currently recruiting faculty mentors to lead projects for 2022. Confirmed mentors include:

Nicole Ardoin, Education

We are seeking a SUPER intern to work with the Stanford Social Ecology Lab on a research project focused on addressing collective action, environmental behavior, and climate change. Specifically, we are exploring the ways in which design-thinking mindsets and approaches might be effective in motivating and supporting shifts toward more climate-friendly behavior at the individual and collective scales. This spring and summer, we will be conducting interviews with representatives from environmental organizations that currently use design-based approaches to engage various constituencies on climate- and sustainability related issues. The interviews will explore how and under what conditions design thinking mindsets and approaches might be well suited for addressing climate change and energy-related issues and behaviors. The analyzed interview data and the study's theoretical model will inform development of design-thinking workshops that bring together stakeholders involved in climate change and energy-related work at a community level. The SUPER undergraduate will work in our collaborative lab environment to assist with conducting interviews, analyzing interview data, and developing the design-thinking workshop. We will provide training on interview methods, qualitative data coding, and qualitative data analysis software usage.

Matteo Cargnello, Chemical Engineering

Synthesis and characterization of catalysts for CO2 capture and hydrogenation to fuels and chemicals.

Note: This research will only be possible if in-person lab work is allowed on campus. 

 

Jacques de Chalendar, Energy Resources Engineering and Frank Wolak, Economics

We are looking for 1 or 2 students to join us in a collaborative team of researchers that is studying opportunities for more active management of the energy consumed by Stanford campus buildings.

At its core, COOLER is about making large, modern buildings more energy efficient, low carbon and resilient using data, optimization, and control.

In 2020, preliminary experiments conducted in three buildings demonstrated the potential of the program and motivated a more comprehensive testing and experimentation campaign in six buildings in 2021. We will continue testing in 2022. The student(s) will help the research team throughout the 2022 experimentation campaign, which could include collecting data, running and monitoring experiments, and / or creating visualizations to analyze results.

The program is a collaboration between Stanford Land, Buildings & Real Estate, Dr. Jacques de Chalendar (research lead), Professor Peter Glynn from the Department of Management Sciences & Engineering (co-PI), Professor Frank Wolak from the Department of Economics (co-PI), and senior faculty affiliated with the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy.

Reinhold Dauskardt, Materials Science and Engineering

Scalable Manufacturing of Perovskite Solar Modules -- This project will involve students in aspects of perovskite solar cell processing, device performance and thermomechanical properties.

Wendy Gu, Mechanical Engineering

Fractures of Lithium-Ion battery cathodes during operation reduce battery capacity. Our summer project is looking at cathode fracture mechanics. This project is an opportunity for an undergraduate researcher work with our team to conduct nanoscale mechanical testing of lithium ion battery cathodes using ex-situ and in-situ SEM nanoindentation techniques. This project could involve some finite element simulations of the experiments if remote work is planned.

Lambertus Hesselink, Electrical Engineering

This project aims to define potential energy scenarios that can reduce GWG by 50% in ten years. Using data from key energy ecosystem participants, the summer undergraduate will carry out modeling of the energy flow diagram.  By the end of the SUPER program, the student will have produced tangible results that can be part of a follow-on effort to further develop well-defined strategies to implement strategic outcomes.  The student would also be welcome to stay involved in the follow-on program during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Mark Z. Jacobson, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Summer research will involve developing graphics and easily-understandable text to engage the public and policymakers about 100% clean, renewable energy transition plans for U.S. states and most countries of the world. New plans have recently been developed for states and countries, and the next step is to educate the public and policymakers about them. This involves creating simplified graphs, documents, and videos and reaching out to key stakeholders in countries around the world.

Jon Krosnick, Communication and Political Science
For 25 years, the Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford has been studying American public opinion on climate change, with a special interest in the economic side of policy-making.  Details are at climatepublicopinion.stanford.edu.  In a new survey conducted in 2020 (and covered in more than 100 news media outlets worldwide), we asked a wide array of new questions tapping Americans' preferences regarding emissions-reduction policies of various types.  Our project will involve analysis of those survey data to yield peer review publications.

Fang Liu, Chemistry

Two-dimensional materials hold great promise for electronic, optoelectronic, and quantum devices. A high-throughput technique in exfoliating high quality single-crystal monolayers with sufficient size and high quality is desired for scientific research and manufacturing. This project aims to develop new top-down exfoliation methods to disassemble vdW single crystals into thin layers with high quality, enhanced yield and with dimensions, and with effective thickness control. We will start with the multiple metal-assisted exfoliation techniques for graphene, boron nitride, transition metal dichalcogenides, and further extend the technology using designed polymers and broaden the application to air and water-sensitive monolayers such as CrI3. The monolayers are of particular interest in optoelectronic or magnetic devices. Students will be trained with cutting edge material preparation and characterization techniques, and will be involved in multiple collaboration projects with people in and out of Stanford.

Sanjiva Lele, Mechanical Engineering and Aero/Astro

Sharpen your data analysis skills and discover factors which significantly influence wind turbine performance, and more comprehensively wind farm performance. Leveraging a multi-month dataset you can, for example, find out the effect of wind speed, direction, and turbulence on the power output and also how seasonal and diurnal cycles or stability of the atmospheric boundary layer affect the performance. You will have access to 3+ years of data from the wind farm Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and an additional concurrent dataset, including wind flow measurements from three nacelle mounted lidars and one vertical profiling lidar.

The wind farm in question is situated in offshore climate conditions between Finland and Sweden and comprises six Enercon E70 2.3MW wind turbines. The wind turbines are located on Stora and Lilla Båtskär and neighboring islets 16 km south of Mariehamn (Åland). The project involves collaboration between Prof. Lele at Stanford and Dr. Hu_unen from VTT, Finland.

Stephen Luby, Medicine

This project is part of ongoing work to ameliorate the environmental and public health effects of brick kilns in Bangladesh. Manual coal feeding in a typical South Asian brick kiln introduces a bolus of coal that far exceeds the available oxygen and so generates large volumes of partially combusted hydrocarbons. We have collaborated with undergraduate students enrolled in Mechanical Engineering 170 over the last two years to develop a prototype automatic coal feeder. This feeder continuously feeds a low dose of coal into the kiln and so improves combustion efficiency and should markedly reduce pollution. A prototype of the coal feeder constructed in Bangladesh according to plans developed by Stanford students is being tested in three brick kilns this winter. The students will take feedback from kiln operators and make some iterations during this winter brick kiln season.

This summer project will lay the foundation for us to offer the automatic coal feeder as a trial product to brick kiln operators in the 2022/2023 brick kiln season. We will be able to evaluate market interest and assess its impact on combustion efficiency. Specifically, the undergraduate will provide support to the Bangladeshi engineers and support workmen as they fabricate the scores of devices required for the full-kiln pilot. In addition, the student will perform preliminary design and prototyping for the next generation of automatic coal feeders. We envision that an automatic coal feeder that is robust to the working conditions in Bangladesh could markedly reduce air pollution and reduce coal consumption. We estimate that the savings in coal would cover the cost of the coal feeder within two months of operation. The savings on coal, could motivate widespread adoption of this approach across Bangladesh and so substantially reduce pollution.

Oriana Mastro, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

How do rising powers like China manage to build power in international systems dominated by one or more established great powers? I am currently researching a book titled Hiding in Plain Sight: How China Became a Great Power, which will bring a fresh perspective on how rising powers like China accumulate power based on insights from the business literature. The conventional wisdom is that countries build power by emulating the past practices of great powers. But I argue the opposite. China has gained power relative to the United States by doing things differently.

Though Hiding in Plain Sight's research and findings have significant implications for other countries, this is a book about Chinese strategy. Therefore, I plan to rely heavily on Chinese sources to piece together the logic behind Chinese actions and behavior (having at least one Chinese speaking research assistant will be very useful). The student will help research the strategies China employs to gain access to energy resources and protect that access. They will not only learn about China through researching its energy policy, but I will also be mentoring them on research methods and approaches in the field of China studies.

Meagan Mauter, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Data-driven modeling of energy use for wastewater treatment

This project consists of developing a data-driven dynamic energy use model for a wastewater treatment facility. The project will use high-resolution metering data from a local wastewater treatment facility and will be implemented in Python with the IDAES/pyomo libraries.

The ideal candidate will have a CS and/or data-science or engineering background and be highly proficiency in python.

Simona Onori, Energy Resources Engineering

The student will be involved in research activities with the member of the Stanford Energy Control Lab focusing on lithium-ion battery experiments, modeling and control where she/he will help design model-based fault diagnostic methods to isolate aging-dependent faults in lithium-ion battery packs. Model-order reduction methods will be used to develop a control-oriented model of the battery pack.

The ideal candidate should have experience in Matlab.

Juan Rivas-Davila, Electrical Engineering

William Tarpeh, Chemical Engineering

Electrochemical Sulfate Recovery

The main goal of the project is to develop an electrochemical process to recover sulfide as sulfate (sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate) from wastewater streams. Achieving this goal can reduce the energy required for water treatment and manufacturing of sulfur products, including sulfuric acid and sulfur battery precursors. Previously, thiosulfate oxidation has been identified as the rate-limiting step under both direct (i.e., at the anode surface) and indirect (i.e., OER-assisted) oxidation from single-component sulfur oxidation experiments, and elemental sulfur deposition on the electrode has been confirmed as the major barrier for mass transfer. Therefore, we have employed these mechanistic insights to design and fabricate a dual-oxidation chamber reactor to achieve sulfide removal and sulfate recovery simultaneously on two sides of one electrode under two operational conditions (i.e., direct oxidation for removal, and indirect oxidation for recovery) enabled by tuning the potential loss across the anode.

Hamdi Tchelepi, Energy Resources Engineering

 

Projects in 2021 included:

Nicole Ardoin, Education
Issues such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic emphasize the complexity and interconnectedness of society, particularly the ways in which collective action is required for effective solutions to such issues. In this project, we seek to understand how to define, foster, and measure collective environmental literacy in support of community action to address energy-related issues. Currently, we are developing instruments to measure collective environmental literacy and will begin pilot testing measures in early 2021, with data collection and analysis continuing into summer. The project for which we are seeking undergraduate collaborators is the logical next step for this work. Working as part of research team, the student will identify a community of interest involved in an energy-related issue (e.g., an organization working to increase energy efficiency, a community exploring alternative energy sources). The student will administer a survey instrument and conduct interviews to measure and explore collective environmental literacy as it relates to energy and energy use. Analysis of the data will help determine the efficacy of the measures and help pinpoint how communities build collective competencies and take collective actions to address energy issues.

Sally Benson, Energy Resources Engineering
California leads the nation and much of the world in policies to mitigate climate change.  We are doing a study to assess how to get California to net-zero by 2045.  We are looking at the different large emitting sectors (industry, transportation, electricity, buildings) and looking at what technologies can be utilized and at what cost.  We are also looking at the role of decarbonized fuels (hydrogen and biofuels) and working lands in achieving carbon neutrality.  We are looking for a student that can work with the current graduate student team as we progress work on this project.  The work will be highly collaborative (all virtual) and data driven.  Depending on the student selected we may pair them with the individuals working in any of the areas listed above.

David Fedor, Hoover Institution
Energy and climate policy writing projects

Wendy Gu, Mechanical Engineering
Hydrogen is a promising candidate for zero greenhouse-gas emission vehicles and is uniquely positioned to decarbonize heat in existing gas-based infrastructures. However, successful implementation of a hydrogen economy requires the transmission of hydrogen from reforming plants to consumers. The most cost-effective method for transporting hydrogen utilizes existing transmission pipelines. These pipelines, often made from low-carbon steels, are susceptible to a phenomenon known as hydrogen embrittlement. Hydrogen embrittlement is the premature and unpredictable failure of structural materials that have been exposed to hydrogen rich environments. It is a pervasive and detrimental problem to the safe and timely conversion to hydrogen.

Despite over 100 years of research, the precise mechanisms of hydrogen embrittlement are still unclear. This in-person research project aims to elucidate hydrogen embrittlement mechanisms in structural steels through mesoscale and nanoscale mechanical characterization techniques. Primarily, in-situ nanoindentation techniques will be coupled with strain mapping and microstructural characterization to craft a wholistic understanding of embrittlement mechanisms. This project has a strong emphasis on technique development and identifying qualitative trends of material behavior in hydrogen environments.

Jon Krosnick, Communication and Political Science
For 25 years, the Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford has been studying American public opinion on climate change, with a special interest in the economic side of policy-making.  Details are at climatepublicopinion.stanford.edu.  In a new survey conducted in 2020 (and covered in more than 100 news media outlets worldwide), we asked a wide array of new questions tapping Americans' preferences regarding emissions-reduction policies of various types.  Our project will involve analysis of those survey data to yield peer review publications.

Simona Onori, Energy Resources Engineering
Modeling Lithium Ion batteries for grid storage

Ram Rajagopal, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Over Spring and Summer, 2021 our Sustainable Systems lab aims to improve energy data thinking through the development of a suite of tools (a course, Tableau plug-ins/extensions and database) designed to facilitate remote learning about energy data analytics for middle and high school youth. Built on data science results from Stanford’s Energy Visualization and Insight System for Demand Operations and Management (VISDOM), we have already designed a 6-module remote learning course based on current theory of best pedagogical practice to support family behavior change around home energy usage.

The first project is related to pilot deployment of an online energy saving program titled “Designing Your Energy Lifestyle: Data Thinking – Data Visualization.” During the program youth learn to visualize their own smart meter data according to key energy concepts using the visualization software, Tableau, build, implement, and evaluate a change plan, and to present their portfolio of work to a jury of “energy experts,” data scientists, and educators.

The SUPER student will work with our team on the theoretical, methodological, and statistical aspects of energy reduction programs. Depending on the stage of current planned pilot deployments, the SUPER student will be involved in actual program delivery, deployment of an IRB approved research project with youth and their families, collection and/or analysis of qualitative interview data, analysis of interim evaluation of student materials, and survey data collected to evaluate the program. Finally, we aim to collect one year of smart meter electricity data to evaluate impact. SUPER student learning and work will be supported by relevant research readings, team discussions of recent research as well as current deployment and data collection, and individual weekly meetings with project director – Dr. June Flora. This program is available for a Spring and/or a Summer SUPER fellowship student.

In the second project, the SUPER student will work with other computer science and engineering students, graduate students, and faculty at Stanford and at Oregon State University to further develop Tableau’s ability to visualize time series data - electricity data.  These plug-ins/extensions will include statistics and algorithms specific to the analysis of smart-metered household electricity data and based on energy data analytics tools developed as part of the VISDOM platform and the remote learning course. Specifically, these plug-ins/extensions will allow users to more easily: (1) clean, process and ingest smart-metered energy data into Tableau; (2) incorporate weather and activity data into their analyses; (3) produce basic summaries and analyses of their electricity usage; (4) calculate household carbon emissions based on their electricity usage; (4) keep track of their work in Tableau; (5) export visualizations to PowerPoint, pdf, or other external reports; and (6) calculate impacts of new rate polices and build longer-term forecasts. The SUPER student should have some skill in Python and/or JavaScript, the iterative process of building tools that will work with existing infrastructure, and an interest in learning more about data science and data visualization scholarship and research. We also would expect the SUPER student to have an interest in learning about hourly energy data science and visualization.

Stefan Reichelstein, Graduate School of Business

This project tries to model the integration of renewable energy and storage -- both battery and hydrogen storage -- so as to ensure economical and stable grid operations. This project has both modeling and computational challenges.

Mark Zoback, Geophysics

Stanford has launched a comprehensive assessment of the technical and business potential for zero-carbon Hydrogen generation from natural gas with carbon capture and onsite geologic storage in California.   We are looking for a student that is interested in helping us to scope and highgrade potential CO2 storage sites in the state.  This will involve reviewing USGS data, public well log data, published papers, state geological survey data, and other public databases.   We will look for data that will help us to better understand the following reservoir characteristics of the depleted gas fields and saline reservoirs:

  • Compartmentalization, closure type, and trapping mechanism
  • Reservoir properties including permeability, porosity, in situ pressure
  • Top/bottom seal properties including capillary entry pressure, vertical permeability, clay content and fracturing
  • Nature and magnitude of any faults and fractures
  • Reservoir depletion history and status/condition of existing wells

Once this data is assembled, we will score and high-grade these potential sites in order to narrow down the opportunities.    Project will be collaborative with significant interaction with other students and researchers.

2020 projects included:

 

2019 projects included:

2018 projects included:

  • Examining Digestibility of Phosphoethanolamine Cellulose for Cellulosic Ethanol
  • Low Cost, Clean Energy Produce Dryer for Use in Rural Indian Farming Communities
  • Synthesis of Colloidal Silver Nanoparticles and Their Catalytic Potential in the Conversion of Propylene to Propylene Oxide
  • Designing the Know Your Energy Numbers Program
  • Watching the Flag: Training a Neural Network to Predict Wind Speeds
  • Global Warming Survey Methodology
  • Unlocking Google’s Street-level Visual Data
  • Detecting Natural Gas Leaks in Bay Area Homes and Quantifying Leakage From Natural Gas Water Heaters
  • Fabricating Stretchable Batteries Using Ion-Conducting Elastomers (ICE)
  • Limiting Voltage Violations in an Electrical Network with Distributed Energy Resources
 

Student applications for SUPER 2022 are due by 11:59pm on February 6, 2022.

Student applications are available here. For the application, be ready to provide:

  • Your name
  • Your SUNet ID and student ID number
  • Your major and class year
  • Your area(s) of interest. A list of suggestions is available for selection, and you can also write in your own ideas.
  • One paragraph (or more) about why you are interested in SUPER
  • Your résumé (as an attachment)
  • (Optional) Description of a project you would like to complete

Please contact Sarah Weaver (sarah.weaver@stanford.edu) with any questions. 

Who is eligible?

Stanford undergraduates who will be enrolled as undergrads through at least Fall Quarter 2022 are eligible for the summer 2022 SUPER program. 

Am I eligible if I am currently performing research with a faculty advisor?

Yes. Pre-existing undergraduate researchers may apply and research may proceed after SUPER concludes. However, the financial support from SUPER is fixed for the summer term.

Can I apply if I have not identified a faculty advisor or undergraduate researcher?

Yes. We can help align pairs between interested faculty and undergraduates. To ensure an appropriate match, please provide as many specifics on your interests or details on the research project as possible.

What type of research does SUPER support?

SUPER supports energy-related research within any of the seven schools at Stanford.

What are the selection criteria?

The projects must be related to energy and achievable on campus. We are primarily interested in strong student-faculty pairs.

When will I be notified of my funding status?

Students and faculty will be notified of their funding status prior to spring break.

May a faculty member mentor two or more SUPER interns?

Depending on enrollment in the SUPER program and available funding, there is a chance that a faculty mentor may mentor more than one intern. This is not guaranteed, however.

What's the timeline for the application process?

The following are key dates for applying to SUPER:

February 6 -- Deadline for Student applications

February 8-15 -- Possible interviews between faculty and students

Late February -- Initial offers sent out