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Paid Undergraduate Research Opportunities at CESTA: Summer 2019

Feb 21 2019

Interested in gaining academic and research experience this year? Apply for an undergraduate Research Internship at CESTA! This opportunity integrates students into a community of faculty, students, and staff who combine technology and the humanities. Work on interdisciplinary projects, learn about digital humanities, and gain valuable experience along the way. Applications for Summer 2019 positions are now being accepted. See the full job announcement below to learn about available projects and how to apply.

About CESTA’s Summer Research Internships

CESTA hires full and part-time undergraduate research interns for a variety of projects during Summer Quarter. Summer positions run from June 24 - August 30, 2019.

CESTA research internships provide Stanford undergraduate students with the opportunity to collaborate on faculty projects, be part of a vibrant community, and gain practical experience. Project work ranges from conducting archival research to building interactive websites, developing databases, and much more. The program includes an orientation, weekly discussions about various digital humanities topics, regular project meetings with research leads, and a limited number of brief assignments. Students are expected to work their hours in CESTA during normal business hours and partake in the above program activities.


Over the summer, research interns are supported through stipends, hourly positions, or Federal Work Study. Summer research interns who are funded through a stipend will receive a one time payment of $7,500 for working full-time (40 hours per week) or $3,750 for working half-time (20 hours per week) for positions that span June 24 - August 30, 2019. Depending on project and funding availability, some students may also work on an hourly basis at a rate of $17.50/hour. Research interns will have access to faculty and staff mentorship for their projects in addition to a great working space.

Application Deadline and Timeline

  • Thursday, March 7 by 11:59 PM: Application due
  • Week of March 11 (week 10): Group Interviews at CESTA
  • Mid- to late-April : Internship offers and on-boarding communications emailed
  • Monday, June 24: Summer research internships begin at CESTA

To Apply

Stanford undergraduate students may submit an application no later than 11:59 PM on Thursday, March 7 to be considered for a CESTA Research Internship in Summer 2019.

CESTA Research Internship Application - Summer 2019

The application asks questions about your availability, experience, and interests. You will also upload a resume and cover letter. After reading the project descriptions found below, write a brief cover letter indicating why you might be a good fit for one or more of the projects. This is an opportunity for you to expand upon what you have included in your resume, relate your skills and experiences to the projects you are interested in, and reflect how this experience may help support your academic and/or professional aspirations. Have your resume and cover letter ready to upload in a single PDF document at the end of the application form.

Prompt applications will receive preferential consideration, as will applicants who are eligible for Federal Work Study. Any applications submitted after the deadline will be considered only if additional needs arise. We encourage students who are not selected for this term to re-apply as additional projects become available and student interest and experiences develop.

Check out the FAQs for further info. We encourage you to give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions about the application process. We can be reached at 650-721-1385 or you can email

Potential Projects in Summer 2019

Below is a list of potential summer projects. Our application form asks students to indicate preferences for specific projects. Students may also be considered for additional projects not listed here. Thus it’s helpful for application materials (i.e., cover letter, resume, and form responses) to expand upon skills, interests, relevant past experiences, and future academic/professional aspirations. Note: Project updates and/or additions may be made in the next two weeks.

  1. CESTA Communications (Celena Allen). [Keywords: social media, community engagement, digital humanities, design, community-building]
  2. Early Modern Mobility (Paula Findlen, Luca Scholz, Katie McDonough, Rachel Midura, and Leo Barleta). [Keywords: history of roads and postal systems, mobility, historical GIS, data construction, network analysis, data visualization]
  3. Global Medieval Sourcebook (Kathryn Starkey). [Keywords: medieval manuscripts, translation, literary history, digital archive, Drupal]
  4. Global Urbanization and Its Discontents: Poverty, Property, and the City (Zephyr Frank). [Keywords: urban studies, spatial history, GIS, data visualization, text mining ]
  5. Grand Tour Project (Giovanna Ceserani). [Keywords: travel history, Italy, Great Britain, interactive database, natural language processing, data visualizations, linked data]
  6. Imagined San Francisco (Ocean Howell). [Keywords: urban planning, infrastructure, architecture, GIS, interface design]
  7. Josquin Research Project (Jesse Rodin). [Keywords: Renaissance music, database, analytical tools, open-source]
  8. Land Talk (Deborah Gordon and Erik Steiner). [Keywords: climate change, storytelling, education, Excel, HTML, CSS, JavaScript]
  9. Literary Lab (Mark Algee-Hewitt). [Keywords: big data and books, text mining, literary history, genre, aesthetics]
  10. Sexual Harassment and Violence in the 19th Century (Estelle Freedman). [Keywords: oral history, text analysis, qualitative coding, history of sexuality]
  11. Social Network Analysis of Book of Governors [Michael Penn]. [Keywords: historical data, social network analysis, history of Christianity, literary networks ]
  12. Text Technologies (Elaine Treharne and Mateusz Fafinski). [Keywords: medieval manuscripts, Latin, Old English, archival materials, technologies, human communication, history, mapping]
  13. Undocumented Migrant Deaths and Patterns of Ancestry: Implications for Human Identification along the U.S.-México Border (Bridget Algee-Hewitt). [Biological data analysis, forensics, migration, public policy, anthropology, archeology, GIS]

CESTA Communications

Project Lead: Celena Allen (CESTA Manager)

Through our social media feeds and other public-facing content, CESTA keeps both scholars and the public informed about the timely and exciting digital humanities research happening at CESTA and elsewhere. To learn more, find us on Instagram @cesta_stanford, Twitter @cesta_stanford, and FB @cesta.stanford.

Job Description: CESTA seeks a creative, motivated undergraduate to assist with communications and programs at the Center. Tasks may include maintaining CESTA’s website and social media accounts; producing newsletters and ensuring that CESTA’s content and message are coordinated across multiple platforms. The student will work with a small team, on which he/she/they will be responsible for creating public-facing content and pushing it both to social media and to other research interns.

Preferred Skills: A friendly, outgoing personality and a flair for teamwork are essential, as is an interest in and enthusiasm for CESTA’s programs and projects. Excellent communication and time management skills. Experience organizing social media campaigns and using tools such as Hootsuite, Mailchimp, website management (Drupal) is preferred. Prior experience in collaborative research projects, training others, or leadership positions is a bonus.

Early Modern Mobility

Project Leads: Prof. Paula Findlen (History), Dr. Luca Scholz (CESTA and History), Dr. Katherine McDonough (Stanford University Libraries and History), Rachel Midura (History), and Leo Barleta (History)

During the early modern period (1500-1800), individuals and communities experienced dramatic changes in communication and transportation, establishing practices, institutions, and infrastructures that opened up new political and economic possibilities, and changed the way people understood the world. This multi-year collaboration will support a transregional study of mobility, incorporating multiple languages and national historiographies. Inter-related studies include the following digitally-enhanced components:

  • Empire in the Backlands: Mapping Territorial Expansion in the Portuguese Empire. The project uses GIS and network analysis to map, measure, and analyse patterns of mobility of colonists and merchants of the expanding territory of Colonial Brazil.
  • New Maps for the Old Regime. This project utilizes GIS to devise new ways of visualizing Europe’s political orders as regimes of movement structured by corridors, channels, and networks rather than by bounded territory.
  • Public Works Laboratory: Building a Province in Eighteenth-Century France. A multilayered, digital map of early modern roads in western France and visualizations of the relationship between construction practices and political action.
  • Reading the Mail: The Culture of the Post in Northern Italy, 1530-1630. A database and accompanying visualizations of published early modern postal itineraries.

Job Description: Undergraduate research interns will work on one or more of the sub-projects listed above, helping to transforming the researcher leads’ data into cutting edge visualizations of early modern networks of roads, postal routes, and patterns of correspondence in the early modern period. As such, tasks may include digitizing sources, collecting and cleaning quantitative and qualitative data, geocoding spatial data, and generating maps and other visualizations of historic networks.

Preferred Skills: Some experience working with archival sources, databases, GIS, data visualizations, and software development is preferred. Reading skills in French, German, Italian, and/or Portuguese will also be helpful in different sub-projects, but are not necessarily required.

Global Medieval Sourcebook

Project Leads: Prof. Kathryn Starkey (German and English) and Mae Lyons-Penner (Comparative Literature)

The Global Medieval Sourcebook (GMS) is an online repository which brings together curated collections of texts dating from the sixth to the sixteenth century and originating in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Each work is presented in its original language and in a new English translation, where possible with high resolution images of the manuscript source. The site uses an innovative page display to offers visitors maximum flexibility in their engagement with text and image. Concise introductions provide a contextual frame for users with little or no prior knowledge of medieval text cultures. Current thematic collections include fabliaux, love songs, and excerpts of world histories, but there are many others in the pipeline. The original texts featured in GMS thus far span the following languages: Old and Middle High German, Middle Low German, Medieval Dutch, Old and Middle French, Old and Middle English, Medieval Italian, Medieval Latin, Old Spanish (including Aljamiado), Medieval Hungarian, Chinese, Arabic, and Persian.

Job Description: Building upon the work of previous undergraduate research interns, the student will help develop the site functionality (using the content-management framework Drupal), design a thematic collection landing page, and ensure that site platform meets accessibility requirements and is compatible for tablets and mobile devices. Research Interns also help expand the corpus, transcribing medieval manuscripts and encoding the transcripts into TEI-XML files.

Preferred Skills: For making further improvements to the website, prior Drupal experience is helpful and knowledge of Timeline JS and/or Flex Slider modules is a plus. To add additional archival documents, having knowledge of TEI guidelines is also a plus and translation skills are highly desired.

Global Urbanization and Its Discontents: Poverty, Property, and the City

Project Leads: Prof. Zephyr Frank (History) and Erik Steiner (Co-Director, Spatial History Project)

Over the last several decades, millions of people have migrated from rural villages and towns into urban contexts which now hold over half of the world’s population. The growth of cities also has been accompanied by an astonishing surge in land values and housing costs, especially in “superstar cities” whose real-estate markets have experienced an influx of global capital, driving housing prices upward and crowding out low-income residents. This expansive project investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of property, rent, and displacement in six world cities and their hinterlands in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Job Description: A team of research interns will work collaboratively to develop and analyze data on rent, displacement, and eviction in multiple world cities. Each city requires a deep historical dive into its process of formation and growth to contextualize its geographic distribution of vulnerability. Drawing from a theoretical framework and research methodology developed by a prior cohorts, this team will contribute to the data collection, eviction studies, as well as website and visualization development for this project.

Preferred Skills: Interests in environmental, urban, and/or spatial histories is beneficial. Prior experience with working with GIS, data analysis, visualization, text mining, and/or web development is preferred.

Grand Tour Project

Project Lead: Giovanna Ceserani (Department of Classics Faculty)

The Grand Tour of Italy attracted thousands of Europeans throughout the 18th century. It was a formative institution of modernity, contributing to a massive reimagining of politics and the arts, of the market for culture, of ideas about leisure, and of practices of professionalism. The Grant Tour Project enriches our understanding of this phenomenon by bringing us closer to the diverse travelers, elite and otherwise, who collectively constituted its world. We are working with the more than 5,000 entries in John Ingamells’ Dictionary of British and Irish Travelers to Italy to create a dynamic searchable database, along with digital visualizations, of these travelers’ journeys and lives.

Job Description: The Research Intern will work on final revisions the digital publication, assisting with web design and adding features to aid further research (e.g., helping with data security and safe deposit promotion). Additionally, the intern will collaborate with the faculty lead and other researchers to develop the pilot for the project’s next phase.

Preferred Skills: Experience in developing websites in Wordpress is essential; the ability to understand and work with historic data, text, and images is also ideal.

Imagined San Francisco

Project lead: Prof. Ocean Howell (University of Oregon, Departments of History and Architectural History) and Erik Steiner (Co-Director, Spatial History Project)

Imagined San Francisco is a website currently in development that enables users to layer and compare a series of historical urban plans of San Francisco, with a special emphasis on unrealized plans. Visitors will be able to see what the city would have looked like had a variety of different schemes been enacted. The idea is to treat visual material not only to illustrate outcomes, but also to interrogate historical processes, and to use maps, plans, drawings, and photographs not only to show what did happen, but also what might have happened. These digital tools are uniquely suited to convey how political power was not only contested, but also distributed (if unevenly), since physical outcomes of the city were almost always hybrids of competing plans, rather than the straightforward expressions of the needs and desires of political regimes.

Job Description: The student will work closely with Prof. Ocean Howell and Erik Steiner (Co-Director, Spatial History Project) on the development of the website and preparation of website content and maps.

Preferred Skills: Experience with programming and web-development, web design, GIS, data management. Interest in urban studies, infrastructure, neighborhood planning, and/or San Francisco history is desirable.

Josquin Research Project

Project Leads: Prof. Jesse Rodin (Music) and Prof. Craig Stuart Sapp (Music)

The Josquin Research Project (JRP) changes what it means to engage with Renaissance music. Our open-access website not only hosts an ever-growing collection of complete scores, but for the first time makes the music fully searchable: in a few clicks you can identify every instance of a given melodic and/or rhythmic pattern. The JRP also provides analytical tools that can be used to gain insight into individual works, the style of a given composer, or the musical lingua franca. The goal of the project is to facilitate a new kind of knowing that brings "big data" into conversation with traditional analytical methods. The project is currently working on new analyses and visualizations of dissonance treatment in the music of Josquin des Prez and his contemporaries.

Job Description: Research interns will work with the project leads to transcribe scores and further develop the open-access website.

Preferred Skills: Familiarity with web development and JavaScript is desired. An interest in Renaissance music and the ability to read sheet music is also preferred.

Land Talk

Project Leads: Prof. Deborah Gordon (Biology) and Erik Steiner (Co-Director, Spatial History Project)

Land Talk is an environmental history project and digital storytelling platform that seeks to empower people all over the world to document landscape changes within their own community. The website is a platform and educational curriculum framed around students interviewing older observers about the changes they have personally observed in their lifetime about places they know well. The project encourages dialogue around a wide range of environmental, cultural, and economic issues entwined with landscape change in everyday places.

Job Description: The student will work closely with Erik Steiner (Co-Director, Spatial History Project) and Prof. Deborah Gordon to develop new features of the website, curate and analyze contributor content, and develop additional materials.

Preferred Skills: Experience with web development (WordPress, Docker, JS) and web design, text analysis, writing, communication, and interest in environmental issues, digital storytelling, and education.

Literary Lab

Project Lead: Prof. Mark Algee-Hewitt (English)

The Stanford Literary Lab uses quantitative and computational methods to ask and answer questions about texts. From tracking the historical rise and fall of iambic pentameter to training a neural net to identify suspenseful passages in novels, the Lab pursues hypotheses about literary history and form on the scale of hundreds or thousands of texts, exploring fiction and poetry through methods such as network analysis, stylometry, and topic modeling.

Job Description: Depending on the status of ongoing projects and the students’ skills and interests, duties may include digitizing documents; manually tagging texts for character, setting, or time frame; maintaining a database of metadata on authors and texts; building networks of character interactions; and/or working with project leads to design an experimental protocol.

Preferred Skills: Attention to detail and strong communication skills, a passion for literature, and experience working with spreadsheets and updating databases. Familiarity with data cleaning, text tagging, and with Python and/or R is a plus.

Sexual Harassment and Violence in the 19th Century

Project Lead: Prof. Estelle Freedman (History) and Natalie Marine-Street (Stanford Historical Society)

A central goal of our oral history text analysis project is to establish methodologies for digital analysis of oral history that a range of scholars can apply. At this stage, this project has compiled about 1,000 oral history transcripts from collections that include African American women, single sex and co-ed college alumnae, World War II workers, and southern feminists. We are now focusing on analyzing evidence about their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual violence, across groups and over time.

Job Description: The research intern will have two main tasks: to record and analyze metadata about the oral history narrators; and to participate in qualitative coding of transcripts using NVivo software to create a database of events related to sexual harassment and violence in the twentieth century U.S. The research skills the intern will develop include data curation and analysis, qualitative research methods, and oral history methodology. Substantively, the intern will learn about the histories of women and sexuality in the twentieth century, including changing language and attitudes towards sex and violence.

Preferred Skills: Prior coursework (such as History 161 or History 258) is desirable but not required. Experience with NVivo or other qualitative data analysis is also desirable but not required. Skill in using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets strongly preferred.

Social Network Analysis of Book of Governors

Project Leads: Prof. Michael Penn (Religious Studies)

In the mid-ninth century Thomas, the East Syriac Bishop of Marga (a region in modern day Iraq), decided he would collect as many stories as he could concerning those who graduated from his home-monastery of Beth Abhe. The resulting hagiography, The Book of Governors, is the longest surviving text from Christians living in the Islamic Empire, runs 685 pages, and has just shy of 500 characters. The Book of Governors makes for a particularly intriguing case study for social network analysis as this text is an amalgamation of data for what we’d consider historically plausible interactions (e.g. well-known abbots, caliphs, and theologians) alongside what we’d consider less plausible (e.g. teleporting trees, petrified dragons, and—in one case—a temporarily resurrected dog). That is, Thomas of Marga promiscuously mixed what we categorize as a historical network with a network of literary characters.

Job Description: After reviewing secondary literature to understand the historical context of the Church of the East, the research intern build upon current work to engage in historical social network analysis of The Book of Governors. The intern will help expand and encode the database with various character attributes and, through the iterative application of social network analysis theory, the intern will specify questions, analyze data through that frame, and use the results to inform further avenues of inquiry.

Preferred Skills: Familiarity with tools and theory of historical social network analysis is preferred (including Palladio and Gephi). Otherwise, an interest in religious history, early Christianity, digital humanities, and/or primary sources is ideal.

Text Technologies

Project Lead: Prof. Elaine Treharne (English) and Mateusz Fafinski (Postdoctoral Scholar)

Text Technologies investigates all forms of human communication from cuneiform tablets to Twitter. Using the power of computational tools and critical analysis, Text Technologies asks questions such as: what does the history of communication teach us about the forms of future information technologies? Text Technologies encompasses myriad subprojects,  including Mapping Manuscripts, which seeks to find new ways of spatially presenting Early Medieval manuscript production. Through this project it will be possible to generate static and interactive maps that will allow taking into account the fuzzy character of the Early Medieval manuscript data – their imprecise location and dating. The resulting database and maps will form not only a useful research and teaching tool but also provide a springboard for network visualisation of Early Medieval manuscripts and scriptoria.

Job Description: Working with faculty, advanced researchers, and staff in CESTA, students collaborate on one or more subprojects related to Text Technologies. The research intern will not only perform research and data entry (i.e., translating data from manuscript catalogs into digital and/or machine readable formats)  but also learn data standardization and schema adaptation as well as data preparation for R programming language.

Preferred Skills:  An interest in medieval manuscripts, archival materials, objects, technologies, any form of human communication, and/or history is helpful. Experience with data research and standardization is preferred; some experience in R (for automatic geocoding and basic map preparation) would be a plus.

Undocumented Migrant Deaths and Patterns of Ancestry: Implications for Human Identification along the U.S.-México Border

Project Lead: Dr. Bridget Algee-Hewitt (CCSRE)

Dr. Bridget Algee-Hewitt is a biological anthropologist, who studies skeletal and genetic diversity in modern populations. She develops novel computational approaches to biological data analysis in order to explore geographic patterns of human variation. With a strong social justice focus to her research, her work has practical implications for human identification methods in the forensic sciences. Her current project aims to find temporal, geographic and demographic (sex/gender, age) trends in border crossing deaths at the US-Mexico border as well as determine if/how Trump’s policies have affected death and apprehension rates relative to the prior Obama administration.

Job description: Depending on student interests, skills, and experience, potential work could include:

  • 3D modeling related to spatial mapping, engineering, math, graphic design (like CGI), medicine and human biology
  • Developing predictive models for unknown forensic cases through shape analysis algorithms to map the topography of bone, quantifying how their landscape changes with age, environ and life-stress factors. Related to this workflow, process laser scans from research based in the Philippines that would feed into predictive models
  • Building virtual models from scan coordinates, exporting the data to algorithms, and running data through software developed for this work

Preferred Skills: An interest in anthropology, archaeology, US-Mexico relations and border issues is preferred and/or an interest in the application of mathematical modelling, software, and algorithms to solve real world problems related to border deaths and identification. Experience working with databases, GIS, and/or software development would be helpful but not required.

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