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Paid Undergraduate Research Opportunities at CESTA: Winter-Spring 2019

Oct 15 2018

The application period for Winter-Spring 2019 positions has closed. This page features an archive of projects available in a previous hiring cycle. Check back during mid-Winter Quarter for a description of projects anticipated for Summer 2019 positions and to apply for a full or part-time research internship.

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 Winter-Spring 2019 positions are now being accepted. See the full job announcement below to learn about available projects and how to apply.

About CESTA’s Winter-Spring Research Internships

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. Through weekly sessions, the program includes an orientation, workshops, discussions, presentations, brief assignments, and food! Student work culminates with a poster symposium at the end of Spring quarter.


Research Interns are supported through either academic credit, hourly pay, or stipends. During Winter and Spring Quarters, interns work between 5 to 10 hours per week at CESTA (during normal business hours). Students will have access to faculty and staff mentorship for their projects, in addition to a great working space.

Application Deadline and Timeline

  • Thursday, November 1 by 11:59 PM: Application due --- EXTENDED TO NOVEMBER 4
  • Week of November 12 (week 8): Group Interviews at CESTA (applicants are expected to particpate in one session, exact times TBA)
  • December 3-14: Internship offers and placement communications emailed
  • January 7: Research internships begin

Applications for Summer 2019 positions will be accepted mid-Winter Quarter.

To Apply

If you are interested in working at CESTA this Winter and Spring, please complete our application form no later than 11:59 PM on Thursday, November 1 (EXTENDED TO NOVEMBER 4). 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 and relate your skills and experiences to the projects you are interested in. 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 open to receiving academic credit. 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 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 Winter/Spring 2019

  1. CESTA Communications (Celena Allen). [Keywords: social media, community engagement, digital humanities, design]
  2. Chinese Railroad Workers in North America (Gordon Chang, Shelley Fisher Fishkin). [Keywords: immigration, Chinese American history, oral history, mapping, data visualization]
  3. Early Modern Mobilities (Paula Findlen, Luca Scholz, Katie McDonough, Rachel Midura, and Leo Barletta). [Keywords: history of roads and postal systems, historical GIS, data construction,  network analysis, data visualization]
  4. Global Medieval Sourcebook (Kathryn Starkey). [Keywords: medieval manuscripts, translation, literary history, digital archive]
  5. Global Urbanization and Its Discontents: Poverty, Property, and the City (Zephyr Frank). [Keywords: urban studies, spatial history, GIS, data visualization, text mining ]
  6. Grand Tour Project (Giovanna Ceserani). [Keywords: travel history, Italy, Great Britain, interactive database, natural language processing, data visualizations, linked data]
  7. Imagined San Francisco (Ocean Howell). [Keywords: urban planning, infrastructure, architecture, GIS, interface design]
  8. Josquin Research Project  (Jesse Rodin). [ Keywords: Renaissance music, database, analytical tools, open-source]
  9. Kindred London (Nicholas Jenkins). [Keywords: British history, urban planning, platform development, storytelling, user experience]
  10. Land Talk (Deborah Gordon and Erik Steiner). [Keywords: geospatial imaging, multimedia interviews, Excel, HTML, CSS, JavaScript]
  11. Law and Resistance in Late Medieval Europe (Rowan Dorin). [Keywords: interface design, text analysis, mapping, history]
  12. Literary Lab (Laura McGrath and J.D. Porter). [Keywords: text mining, literary history, genre, aesthetics]
  13. Mapping Ottoman Epirus (Ali Yaycioglu). [Keywords: mapping, empire, Eastern Mediterranean, Greek/Ottoman Turkish/Arabic language skills, spatial history]
  14. Rediscovering an Egyptian Collection (Christina Hodge). [Keywords: archaeological collection, Egyptology, data visualization, network analysis, web development]
  15. Stanford Family Collection (Elaine Treharne and Jessica Stewart). [Keywords: data visualization; Stanford history; museum studies; social justice]
  16. Text Technologies (Elaine Treharne). [Keywords: medieval manuscripts, Latin, Old English, archival materials, technologies, human communication, history]

CESTA Communications

Project Lead: Celena Allen (CESTA Manager)

Home to six central labs and scores of projects, CESTA is Stanford’s digital humanities hub, regularly hosting events that bring together faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from across campus and around the world. 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.

Chinese Railroad Workers in North America at Stanford

Project Leads: Prof. Gordon Chang (History) and Prof. Shelley Fisher Fishkin (English)

The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad (between 1865 and 1869) helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West. The Project coordinates research in North America and Asia in order to create an online digital archive available to all, along with books, digital visualizations, conferences, and public events.

Job Description: The research intern will work closely with the PIs, project manager, and other researchers to aid in research and analysis as well as the development of a digital archive. Specifically, the student will support ongoing efforts to format essays for the website, accessioning materials through the Stanford Digital Repository, and engage in directed historical materials searches.

Preferred Skills: We are looking for a student with interest and/or experience in working with archival records, developing web content (including narratives and visualizations).

Early Modern Mobilities

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 Barletta (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 transform 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, and software development is preferred. Reading skills in foreign languages could be useful to particular projects (i.e., French, German, Italian, and/or Portuguese), 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!

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. 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.

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 (e.g. Philadelphia and Macau). Each cities 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. This 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 for Grand Tour Explorer, the interactive web platform of the Grand Tour project, which will include features to aid further research. Additionally, the intern will collaborate with the PI and other researchers to prepare scholars’ papers based on the Grand Tour Explorer for publication, focusing on data visualizations and other image issues.

Preferred Skills: Experience in developing websites in Wordpress is essential; the ability to integrate a queryable database in Heroku with the site is also critical. An interest in Italy, the Grand Tour, working with historic data, and thorough attention to detail is ideal.

Imagined San Francisco

Project lead: Prof. Ocean Howell (University of Oregon, Departments of History and Architectural History)
Imagined San Francisco enables users to layer a series of historical urban plans, 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.
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.

Kindred London

Project Lead: Prof. Nicholas Jenkins (English)
Kindred Britain takes one of the oldest forms of social network analysis, family relationships, and reimagines it for the contemporary medium of the web. For the upcoming Kindred Britain 2.0, we are creating a new feature, Kindred London, focussed on Britain’s capital city in the period between 1700 and 1950. Using digitized versions of three spectacular historic London maps and harmonizing them with current visualization techniques, we will create an innovatively immersive experience of a vanished London. In brief, think Google Maps for the Victorian world. By creating as provocative, information-rich and aesthetically compelling a site as we can, our goal is not to provide answers but to stimulate users to ask their own new questions.
Job Description: The research intern will working closely with Prof. Jenkins to add features to digital platform and develop narrative content.
Preferred Skills: Prior experience with design, writing/editing, and web development is preferred. An interest in storytelling, urban studies, literary studies, or the history of London, is also desirable. However, creativity, team spirit and diligence are the most important qualities of all.

Land Talk

Project Leads: Prof. Deborah Gordon (Biology) and Erik Steiner (Co-Director, Spatial History Project)
Land Talk 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 community members about the changes they have personally observed in their lifetime about places they know well. The project encourages younger and older people to talk together and amplifies real stories about our changing landscapes without getting mired in politically-charged and often abstract rhetoric about global warming climate change.
Job Description: We seek an engaged student to join our team to develop various aspects of the project, potentially including: web development, blogging, text analysis, web site editing, and/or curriculum development. 
Preferred Skills: Experience with Wordpress editing and/or development, text analysis, video editing, writing, communication, interest in environmental issues and education

Law and Resistance in Late Medieval Europe

Project Lead: Prof. Rowan Dorin (History)

Medieval European society was profoundly shaped by the legal institutions and lawmaking activity of the Catholic church. From the late twelfth century onward, papal law proliferated, with letters and decrees being sent forth from the papal curia to the farthest reaches of Christendom. Meanwhile, at a local level, bishops could use their own legislative powers to advance, transform, or even resist these centralizing efforts. Until now, the extent and dispersion of the surviving sources has made impossible to study this corpus systematically, but a new digital database created at Stanford is opening new possibilities for comparative analysis of such local legislation across space and time - allowing us to track more precisely the role of law in shaping the social and religious life of late medieval Europe.

Job Description: The research intern will focus on integrating the text corpus with existing digital maps of medieval church jurisdictions, so that users can perform spatially-inflected searches on the text corpus, or (conversely) plot textual data on the maps.  The research intern will also work together with a developer to create the public-facing, web-based architecture for integrating the spatial and textual corpora of the project.

Preferred Skills: GIS skills, or a willingness to learn, is desirable. Some programming experience is also preferred, particularly a familiarity with database and web design.

Literary Lab


Project Lead: Dr. Laura McGrath and Dr. J.D. Porter (Acting Co-Directors of the Literary Lab)

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. In all cases, students will collaborate closely with project leads.

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.

Mapping Ottoman Epirus: Space, Power, and Empire

Project Leads: Prof. Ali Yaycioğlu (History) and Dr. Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Boğaziçi University)

This project will initiate the first digital map of the Ottoman Empire's complex social, economic, political, ethnic, religious, and cultural landscape. The interactive map will designate urban and village settlements, agricultural and pastoral landscapes, transportation webs and monuments, mercantile and intellectual networks, the structure of governance and administrative setting, and accumulation of power and wealth in Western and Central Greece, roughly from the early 18th to mid 19th centuries. In doing so, we integrate complex and multifaceted data gathered from archival documents in Ottoman-Turkish and Greek (as well as French, Russian, and English), topographic data derived from our field trips, geo-historical sources, historical maps, and other visual material. Long term aims for the project are to collaborate with a group of scholars from Greek and Turkish institutions to classify the data and build a geospatial database.

Job description: This project has multiple but largely overlapping stages:

  • Georeferencing historical maps and documents to designate historical place names in Turkish, Greek, Albanian, and Bulgarian. This effort will allow us to start building a historical gazetteer.

  • Map and reconstruct communication and correspondence processes including documents such as:  various administrative letters, petitions, contracts, imperial orders, private letters, cadastral documents, and fiscal documents

  • Develop a digital index of the people who appear in the historical documents.

Preferred skills: Basic knowledge of GIS and Python. Desire to work on historical-spatial themes with a group of scholars from Greece and Turkey. Interest in Ottoman History and Greece in Eastern Mediterranean context. Language skills in Greek or Turkish or Arabic are desirable but not necessary. The process of researching and documenting these place names is almost as complex as the history of the Ottoman empire itself. Names of places change over time, the language of the area has changed over time, and little evidence is left behind for many of these places. These make for plenty of challenges and fascinating discoveries. Patience, a willingness to problem solve, and desire to dive into the history of this project are desired.

Rediscovering an Egyptian Collection

Project Lead: Dr. Christina Hodge (Stanford University Archaeology Collections, SUAC)

In spring 2018, SUAC inventoried its Egyptian collection for the first time for the student-curated exhibition Our Dark Materials: Rediscovering an Egyptian Collection. These antiquities are part of the university’s founding collections and, despite damage from the 1906 earthquake, are more numerous and significant than previously suspected. As objects used by modest people in daily life and death, they tell a different story than the wealth of pharaonic Egypt typically presented in museums. They not only link collections across the university at SUAC, the Cantor Center, and Archives and Special Collections, but also link Stanford globally to some of the most important scholars, sites, and collections in early Egyptology.

This digital humanities project will augment the temporary physical exhibit through the visualization and online dissemination of related preexisting research/content. Outcomes will allow Stanford to share these discoveries with researchers and the public; integrate related online collections across the university; integrate these collections with the global world of Egyptology; and, through visualization, generate new understandings of collections and intellectual relationships. Envisioned projects include 1) Who Was Who in Stanford Egyptology: an interactive biographical “map” illustrating the global network of people and places interconnected through SUAC’s Egyptian collection; and/or 2) Rejuvenating Senchalanthos: a data visualization in which a remarkable inscribed mummy coffin anchors a web of interrelated multimedia (objects, archives, photographs) and current research breakthroughs (multi-spectral imaging; 3D scanning; MRI).

Job Description: The research intern will work on one or both of these digital visualization projects, depending on interests, skills, and time. Students will work closely with the PI, project manager, and other researchers to create visualizations for the data both for public consumption as well as to aid in research and analysis. The core student task will be helping to develop and design web-based visualization that will both tell the story of Stanford’s Egyptian Collection and help visualize the sociomaterial relationships it reveals.

Preferred Skills: We are looking for design and advanced programming skills with special focus on html and interactive website development, if possible.

Stanford Family Collection

Project Leads: Prof. Elaine Treharne (English) and Dr. Jessica Stewart (Cantor Arts Center)

In September 2019, the Cantor Arts Center will open a reinstallation of the Stanford Family Collection, conducted by the contemporary artist Mark Dion. To create relevant, scholarly interpretive content that will support this long-term exhibition, the museum is pursuing new research on the Stanford family’s complex legacy from both social justice and ecocritical perspectives. The Cantor will collaborate with the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) to produce interactive content featuring student and faculty work on the collection and related archival resources on campus. Major themes may include Chinese labor in railroad construction and campus transformation; Native American cultural heritage and indigenous sites on campus; nineteenth-century history and philosophy of science; and the influence of classical antiquity in American aristocracy.

Job Description: Undergraduate research interns and graduate student assistants will work under the guidance of CESTA and in close consultation with the Cantor’s academic programs department to support this collaborative project.  In addition to learning about the display of museum objects and their provenance, the interns on this project will help create data sets to develop visualizations for the public exhibition. Students may be assigned to work on one of the specific themes listed above.

Preferred Skills: An interest and enthusiasm for interpretation, Stanford history, museum studies, working with data, and social justice or ecocriticism are integral to this work. Familiarity with basic data management is strongly preferred; some experience in creating data visualizations is also helpful. Prior experience participating in collaborative research projects and good communication skills, including developing content for a broad audience, is desirable.

Text Technologies

Project Lead: Prof. Elaine Treharne (English)

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?

Job Description: Working with faculty and staff in CESTA, students collaborate on projects that trace the evolution of human communication, uncover the lived experiences of people through their written record and ephemera and engage in academic conferences and more.

Preferred Skills: No specific skills are required, but an interest in medieval manuscripts, Latin, Old English, archival materials, objects, technologies, any form of human communication, and/or history is helpful.


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