CURIS Fellowships, 2021-2022

CURIS is the undergraduate research program of Stanford's Computer Science Department. Each summer, 100+ undergraduates conduct and participate in computer science research advised and mentored by faculty and Ph.D. students.

CURIS Fellowships provide guaranteed funding for undergraduates to participate in summer research. A Fellowship student's stipend is paid for by the department. A student awarded a CURIS fellowship is responsible for finding a research project to work on, but does not go through the matching process of standard CURIS participation. Students receiving Fellowships are encouraged to use the CURIS project listings to find interesting projects and reach out to the corresponding faculty and Ph.D. students.

CURIS stipends are set by the University as part of a larger undergraduate research program. This summer, stipends vary from $7,500-$9,000 depending on circumstances. All students receive a $7,500 stipend, and students may apply for additional need-based support up to $1,500. Awarding of the need-based aid is managed by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) in coordination with the Financial Aid office; we will provide more information when the publish the process. We expect to grant 20-25 Fellowships for the summer of 2022.

CURIS Fellowships are intended for students who are just starting in research. The goal for the Fellowship program is to give a diverse set of less advanced or experienced students an opportunity to participate in research earlier in their academic career. All Stanford undergraduates are eligible for a CURIS Fellowships. The recipients of Fellowships in 2021-2022 will be selected with an emphasis on students who

  • do not have prior CS research experience,
  • show promise as researchers in their interests and curiousity, and
  • will help make research accessible to a diverse group of students.

Fellowship Process

To receive a CURIS Fellowship, you must first apply. A committee of CS Faculty, Research Scientists and Lecturers reviews the applications and decides who receives them. The 2021-2022 committee consists of:

  • Jay Borenstein
  • Zakir Durumeric
  • Chris Gregg
  • Philip Levis (chair)
  • Stephen Montgomery
  • Aviad Rubinstein
  • Rok Sosic
  • Breauna Spencer
  • Mary Wootters

Your application consists of three parts: a transcript, an essay on a research paper, and a statement on your interest and research potential. The statement may either be a single letter of recommendation written by a Lecturer, Research Scientist, or Professor, or a personal statement written by you.

To apply, send email to Yesenia Gallegos. Your email must have the subject "CURIS Fellowship Application". If it doesn't we might lose it. The body of the email must state your name and your SUNet ID. If your statement is a letter of recommendation, the email must also state the name of your letter writer. To your email attach a single PDF that has these two things:

  • A copy of your unofficial transcript
  • An approximately 500-word essay on a research reading (listed below)

If your statement is a personal statement, your single PDF must also include:

  • An approximately 200-word personal statement of why you want to pursue CS research

If you chose a letter, the letter writer will send the letter to Yesenia separately and we'll merge it with your application.

Nominations and Letters

Faculty, Research Scientists, and Lecturers may nominate a student for a Fellowship. This means that they proactively reach out to CURIS to say they think a student is an excellent candidate for a Fellowship and would write a letter. If you receive an email from CURIS saying you've been nominated, this means you don't need to ask someone to write a letter: you just need to name the nominator in your application. Nominated students must still apply by sending their information, transcript, and essay.

Personal Statement

If you choose to submit a personal statement instead of a letter of recommendation, please write approximately 200 words describing why you want to spend a summer doing research in CURIS. You can answer questions such as: What do you think research is? Why is it interesting? What sorts of fields interest you and why? What do you like about CS? While the research essay is about what you think about the paper you read, the personal statement should be about you, as a person, and your motivations and goals.

Research Essay

A CURIS Fellowship application must include an approximately 500-word research essay on one of a selection of recent Research Highlight articles from the Communications of the ACM. These articles highlight recent especially notable results from across the entire field of CS: they are typically a significant rewrite of the original paper in order to make it more broadly accessible. Furthermore, a leader in the paper's field writes an introduction explaining the context for the work and why it is exemplary.

We don't expect an applicant to be able to provide deep research commentary on the work. Instead, the research statement should focus on what you think is interesting, what was confusing, and generally what you think about the paper. You are not expected to, but you could try answering questions such as "What terms did you not understand and what do you think they mean?", "Why was this paper interesting to you?", "If you could add one experiment to the paper, what would it be?", or "What's an interesting way this result could be used that the author's don't talk about?", or "Would you want to work on this topic and why?" We think that asking you to write your thoughts about a recent research result written up in an accessible way, given that most applicants will not have researched before.

Please pick from one of these Research Highlight articles:


Applications are due on Wednesday, December 15th so applicants have time to write a thoughtful research statement after the quarter ends. Fellowship awards will be announced at the beginning of winter quarter, so that applicants who do not receive a Fellowship may still apply to CURIS through the regular process. Students who are awarded a Fellowship may use the CURIS website to find a project to work on.

  • December 15th: Applications are due
  • December 22nd: Letters are due
  • January 10th: Fellowship results announced