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SIEPR UGRA Program-Academic Year

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The UGRA program aims to offer dynamic research opportunities for Stanford undergraduates during the academic year. The UGRA program continues to focus on enriching the student research experience, and will also offer more opportunities for students to participate in the intellectual life of SIEPR. 

Program Structure 

Each quarter students and their faculty mentor will meet prior to the start of the quarter to agree on project goals and learning outcomes for a quarter-long research experience. The student time commitment is expected to be equivalent to a 3-unit course (approximately 9 hours per week). The Fall Quarter program will run from September 26 to December 8, 2023.

  • Students will be paid a fellowship stipend of $1500 each academic quarter
    • One-half of the stipend will be paid at the beginning of the quarter, and the other half at the end of the quarter once the faculty mentor confirms that the student has met the project goals or at least put in a good faith effort to do so.
  • Students are not held to a weekly work hour requirement
    • Faculty mentors will assess student progress at the middle and at the end of the quarter to make sure students are meeting expectations on their project. 
  • Students will attend a one-hour weekly working group meeting hosted by SIEPR
    • The meetings will offer peer-to-peer interaction, professional development opportunities, and skills training.
  • SIEPR will host monthly seminars/presentations for undergraduate students
  • Students will submit to SIEPR periodic research summaries throughout the quarter and a final slide summarizing their project outcomes around the end of the quarter


UGRAs must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at Stanford. Coterm students who are interested in the program will need to hold undergraduate standing to be eligible for the SIEPR UGRA program.

How to Apply

To apply for the SIEPR UGRA program, fill out the online application using the link below. Please follow the instructions in the application portal. The application will ask you to answer a few general questions about your academic interests.

Please prepare to upload the materials listed below:

  1. A list of the current courses that you are enrolled in for the upcoming quarter. 
  2. Resume
  3. A cover letter that addresses the following:
    • Why are you interested in a SIEPR UGRA position?
    • What is your previous experience, if any, with research?
    • What are your personal research interests?


If you have questions, please email

Now accepting applications for the SIEPR UGRA Program Fall 2023. Please review the open projects listed below and complete the application form link. 

 Apply Now

Open position

The Past and Future of Inequality in America

Mentor: Lukas Althoff

Our research, divided into three distinct but interrelated projects, assesses the impact of pivotal institutions and innovations on economic inequality. The first two projects offer a historical perspective, assessing the enduring effects of historical institutions on racial inequality, thereby providing insights into the roots of contemporary racial inequality. The third project propels us into the future, exploring the potential impact of advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) on the valuation of human capital. In doing so, it addresses a critical question: How might the progression of AI technology redefine our understanding of skill, knowledge, and human worth in society?

RA Responsibilities: Quantitative research through data analysis, potentially involving the collection and preparation of novel data from historical sources. Critical synthesis of relevant economics literature.

RA Qualifications: Basic to advanced coding skills. Excitement about the economics of inequality and either (1) American history or (2) artificial intelligence.

Open position

Reinventing First-Responder Practices for Behavioral Health Crises

Mentor: Thomas Dee

Multiple communities throughout the United States have begun complementing (or replacing) police-only responses to behavioral health crises with mental health staff. Students will assist in building a national database on the design details of these innovations. This landscape analysis will seed quasi-experimental studies of program impact. For more background information click here 

RA Responsibilities: RAs will assist in identifying the state and local innovations in first-responder practices (e.g., co-responder and community-responder models) and participate in the structured coding of these data. At a later stage, RAs can also participate in the quasi-experimental evaluation of such programs.

RA Qualifications: The key qualification is simply an energetic attention to detail. However, at a later stage, it would also be useful to have or to quickly develop skill in using Stata.

Open position

Gentzkow lab

Mentor: Matthew Gentzkow

We are looking for highly motivated students to assist with empirical economics research projects in our lab. The exact project(s) will be determined based on students' interests. Our broad focus areas media economics, policial economy, and industrial organization. We apply a range of empirical tools including machine learning and AI.Ongoing workstreams include(1) Measuring political and mental health impacts of digital media(2) Digital addiction(3) Markets for advertising(4) Regulation of tech platforms(5) Measuring bias

RA Responsibilities: Students may be involved with all stages of the research process, including idea generation, literature review, data collection and preparation, data visualization, statistical analysis, writing, and preparing presentations.

RA Qualifications: The ideal candidate will: (i) have a strong quantitative background; (ii) have strong computer science and programming skills; (iii) be able to work independently to solve problems; and (iv) be highly motivated and committed to the project. Background in economic research is a plus, but not necessary – _we welcome candidates with strong technical backgrounds who are looking for more exposure to economics.

Open position

The Digital Economy Lab

Mentor: Erik Brynjolfsson 

This project involves running a randomized control experiment to test the impact of AI and human collaboration in an online setting. This role will help us to develop and test a browser extension on Chrome (and other browsers). The browser extension provides AI-generated suggestions to users on discussion forums, enabling users to edit the text before posting their reply. 

RA Responsibilities: The RA will assist us in collecting and organizing social media usage information on the network of study participants on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. They will also aid us in analyzing and visualizing these networks. For a separate project, the RA will assist us in collecting and organizing macro and microeconomic data sets to allow for the calibration and back-testing of agent based macroeconomic models.

RA Qualifications: software development, python, browser extensions,  computational social science, excellent communication and time management

Open position

State and Local Governance Initiative

Mentor: Joshua Rauh

The Hoover Institution's State and Local Governance Initiative offers undergraduates RAs exposure to a wide variety of economic policy topics, including public finance, energy, infrastructure, economic development, and workforce training.

RA Responsibilities: RAs will perform a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research tasks, including data cleaning, data analysis using Stata or R, literature reviews, and other related projects.

RA Qualifications: Basic economics and statistics experience, interest in public policy, excellent writing and communication skills; knowledge of Stata/R is a plus.

Open position

Research in Health and Aging/Bridging the Gap between Research and Policy

Mentor: Gopi Goda

Research assistants will work together as a team on a variety of research projects regarding the role of health insurance in mortality outcomes, implicit health insurance in the tax code, and the investigation of long-term care programs around the world. In addition, research assistants will support policy engagement efforts in a wide variety of policy areas, including a "Research in Rulemaking" initiative and by synthesizing research and identifying opportunities for research to enter policy discussions.

RA Responsibilities: Research assistants will be responsible for conducting literature reviews, data collection and statistical analysis, creating presentations, and maintaining a database of federal regulatory actions and matching them with faculty research.

RA Qualifications: Qualified candidates will have a passion for ensuring that academic research is a part of the policy process. Research assistants must be detail-oriented, organized, and exhibit excellent writing and communication skills. Experience with data analysis using statistical software such as Stata is a plus but not required.

Open position

Risk literacy and personal finance decisions: Evidence and implications

Mentor: Annamaria Lusardi

This project will use several waves of Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) data, which is data collected by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) and the TIAA Institute, to analyze how well people understand risk and how that understanding shapes personal finance decisions. Several studies have noted that risk is the topic about which people know the least, but most financial literacy surveys include too few questions about risk to effectively study risk literacy. Of the twenty-eight questions that measure financial literacy in the P-Fin Index, several are related to risk, making it possible to do an in-depth analysis of people’s risk knowledge, including whether that knowledge is changing over time (we have data from 2017 to 2023). Moreover, risk literacy can be linked to financial behavior, such as whether people can deal with unexpected expenses and whether they plan for retirement, both of which are associated with good short- and long-term financial outcomes. This analysis will be used in three ways. First, it will be used to write a research paper and policy briefs. Second, it will be used to design financial education programs aimed at improving risk literacy. Such programs would, for example, use visuals to explain complex concepts in simple ways. Third, it will be used to design material to teach risk and risk management in personal finance courses, particularly those targeting students from different disciplines.

RA Responsibilities: Analyze data using programs such as Stata and data visualization software;Review academic research; Create presentation material; Help design financial education programs.

RA Qualifications: Basic knowledge of Stata or willingness to learn Stata; Good writing skills; Creative and open to think outside the box; Background in economics or related fields would be useful.

Open position

Political Economy of Voting Rights in US History

Mentor: Gavin Wright

I need assistance for a literature search pertaining to the role of race and ethnic divides in building democracy, primarily in US history.

RA Responsibilities: Collect references on the subject, scrutinize them, and recommend items for close attention from the researcher.

RA Qualifications: Some background in US history and in economics is essential. Coursework in econometrics is desirable but not essential.

Open position

Expanding Economic Opportunities & Access to Justice for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Mentor: Alison Morantz

The mission of the Stanford Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Law and Policy Project (SIDDLAPP) is to generate innovative research and public-facing materials to expand the economic opportunities and civil rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), especially those from underserved communities. In 2021-22, SIDDLAPP partnered with other disability rights organizations in a successful effort to reform state law to improve access to justice among individuals who appeal service denials at administrative hearings. In 2022-23, SIDDLAPP created a web-searchable database of administrative hearing decisions to help consumers prepare for their own hearings; posted online “report cards” showing whether agencies that dispense state funds to individuals with I/DD are complying with transparency and reporting requirements; and investigated the state’s home- and community-based “safety net” for individuals with I/DD and high behavioral support needs. In 2023-24, SIDDLAPP will build on and extend these initiatives in several ways. First, we will update the report cards measuring compliance with transparency and reporting requirements, so that stakeholders can evaluate trends over time. Second, we will partner with other organizations to reduce barriers to justice for individuals with I/DD and their family members seeking to enforce their legal rights. Third, we will issue a report summarizing our findings on how best to support individuals with I/DD and high behavioral support needs in the community. Finally, we will begin analyzing state data on licensed community care facilities, including group homes that support children and adults with I/DD.

RA Responsibilities: The RAs will collaborate with the faculty mentor, SIDDLAPP staff, Stanford Law School's Racial and Disability Justice Pro Bono Project (RAD Justice) and/or other disability rights organizations to carry out one or more of the policy-related project(s) described above or other project(s) designed to strengthen the economic welfare, autonomy, and civil rights of individuals with I/DD.

RA Qualifications: High attention to detail, strong communication skills, the capacity to complete work in a timely fashion, and an interest in economic inequality are essential. An interest in disability rights and social service programs (such as Medicaid) is preferred but not required. Although some tasks may require technical training in econometrics, statistics and/or computer science, applicants who do not possess these skills but excel in other areas will still be considered.

Open position

Three Centuries of international capital flows

Mentor: Chenzi Xu

This project, joint with Antonio Coppola at Stanford GSB, aims to create new measures of international capital flows from the 1700s onwards. We rely on several historical sources that we are systematically digitizing using novel computer vision techniques such that the entire data creation process will be fully automated. With these data, we will shed light on previously unseen international financial market integration in the 18th-20th centuries, particularly during periods that were previously thought to have witnessed a full collapse in international capital, as well as among countries that have generally been understudied, such as those in Latin America and Africa.

RA Responsibilities: Helping us to build this dataset, which may require manually checking the digitized output relative to the initial input, doing in-depth historical research on individual institutions, and scanning volumes of the original data

RA Qualifications: Strong attention to detail and interest in economics and history; highly organized; clear communicator

Open position

The Financing of Technology Convergence

Mentor: Timothy Bresnahan

Convergence with technology has led to rapid changes in a few industries in the Internet era. This project focuses on the related financial markets for established businesses. Many have seen changes in ownership through merger, spin-off, public/private switches, and other means. We study the structure of those changes, their motives (both announced and revealed) and their success/not.

 RA Responsibilities: 1) "Property histories" linked to pre-internet financial data. We have a list of properties we are interested in, mostly in entertainment, media, sports, or retail trade. Who innovated them, and how was that financed? What firms have owned them in the interim? What were the stated reasons for ownership changes? 2) Obtain longest possible time series of firm-level financial data for each stage of the property. We have online financial data resources. 3) Contribute to discussions of explanation.

RA Qualifications: Detail oriented and fluent in excel. Eager to learn new finance and industry-history data sources and tools. Reliable and team-oriented.