The PRISM Application
The PRISM Application consists of the following parts:
- General Information
Your academic background, short descriptions of your dissertation project and proposed postdoctoral research direction, and biographical/demographic data, including a short diversity statement.
- Research Statement (two page limit)
Include a brief overview of your scientific background, the current project you are working on, and how that connects to the research area(s) you are interested in exploring in postdoctoral research. This broad overview will be shared with all potential mentors. Note that the individual statements you write in the application for each potential mentor will supplement this information. If you choose to include references, please use a standard publication style.
- PRISM Faculty Selections & Statements
You are required to name at least 2 and up to 6 Stanford faculty members with whom you would like to interview. For each faculty member, you must submit a Research Alignment Statement. See the “Finding Faculty Mentors” and “Research Alignment Statement” sections below for more details.
- Letter(s) of Recommendation
One letter from your current research advisor is required. You may request additional letters from other faculty (up to 3 total). Your reference writers are named (with email address) in the "Request Reference" section of the application. This part of the application may be completed and/or edited at any time before the deadline (does not require previous sections to be completed first).
- PRISM Faculty Routing
You must select the faculty to review your application in the "Request Faculty" section of the application. This will route your application to those faculty members for review. Please be sure to name the same faculty in this section as you named in the faculty selections part of the application. This part of the application may be completed and/or edited at any time before the deadline (does not require previous sections to be completed first).
Selecting PRISM Faculty Mentors
Check out our Guidance for Finding Potential Mentors for helpful general information about applying for postdoctoral training, through PRISM or elsewhere.
Potential Postdoc Research Direction(s)
Some graduate students continue their current research trajectory in their postdoctoral research, while others choose to apply their current expertise to an entirely different research area. Both are valid approaches to postdoctoral training. You may already have an idea of possible research directions, and you should rely on the faculty who know your work and interests to think through possibilities.
Some questions that may help with brainstorming possibilities include:
- What research questions are you curious about?
- How can your current expertise (knowledge, techniques, systems, theoretical models, etc.) be applied to new research questions and areas?
There are over 2200 faculty at Stanford doing all kinds of interesting research. Take your time to explore a wide variety of possible mentor options before narrowing down for the PRISM application -- all Academic Council members are eligible to be potential PRISM mentors. Here are some ways to find potential mentors:
- Do a literature search around your research interests to see who at Stanford is doing related research. They may be good potential mentors or collaborators.
- Browse departments in the Schools of Earth Sciences, Engineering, Humanities & Sciences, or Medicine.
- Find details about individual faculty members via Stanford Profiles.
Note that you can do keyword searches through Stanford Profiles, and in each faculty member’s profile Publications tab, there is also a list of faculty doing related research and related research topic search links.
- If your research is in the biosciences, look at the list of T32 programs at Stanford. If your proposed research direction fits generally in any of those program areas, reach out to the PI to express interest and/or look at the list of associated faculty (if available).
- Look through the list of faculty who have expressed interest in interviewing PRISM recruits to find potential matches. *Pro tip: click on the search button on any postdocs.stanford.edu page and select "Advanced Search" -- if you select the "PRISM Mentor" checkbox, you can perform a keyword search of their research descriptions.
Approaching Faculty for PRISM Interview Request
You should reach out to each faculty member you are considering before submitting the PRISM application. The recommended timing is within 1 month of the application deadline, unless you will have an opportunity to speak with them in person before that, e.g., at a meeting, conference, or talk.
Your brief email to faculty should include the following components:
- Who you are (name, graduate institution, advisor’s name, research topic area)
- Why you are interested in pursuing postdoctoral training with that faculty member.
- Note that you are applying for the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs PRISM postdoc recruitment program (postdocs.stanford.edu/PRISM) which may cover your travel costs for an interview.
Research Alignment Statements
Q: How would your proposed research direction align with this faculty mentor’s interests?
Please provide SPECIFIC DETAIL about how your proposed research aligns with this faculty mentor's interests and how your current work supports this (up to 350 words) - this is REQUIRED for each named potential faculty mentor.
NOTE: this will be visible to all reviewing faculty. It should be THOUGHTFUL and reflect your understanding of this faculty member's work and what you have to offer within their group. Do not write one statement and just replace the faculty name in each statement – the faculty will notice!