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PRISM Application Guide

The PRISM Application

This application is intended to help us learn about you and to provide a comprehensive view for the faculty mentors you would like to meet. Along with your CV and Bio/Demo information, we are interested in learning about your current research, your long term research vision, and how postdoctoral training with the faculty you choose can support that vision.

The PRISM Application consists of:

  • Biographic and Demographic Information
  • Academic Information: Descriptions of your current training, dissertation project, and postdoctoral research interest(s).
  • Applicant Diversity Statement: This statement is shared with faculty to highlight the unique perspective you would bring to the group. You should also include past or present contributions to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive climate. Responses are generally in the range of two to three paragraphs.
  • Postdoc Research Direction: A brief statement on your future direction and how Stanford supports your continued independence
  • CV: Upload a PDF of your Curriculum Vitae.
  • Research Statement: Two page limit. Upload in PDF format an overview of your scientific background, current project, and how it connects to the research area(s) you will explore in postdoctoral research. Potential mentors receive both this broad overview and the individual statement you submit for each named mentor. If you include references, use a standard publication style.
  • Faculty Selections & Statements: Name two to six Stanford faculty members who interest you as potential postdoc mentors, and provide a short Research Alignment Statement for each that highlights how your research interests align with theirs. See the “Finding Faculty Mentors” and “Research Alignment Statement” below for details.
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation: One letter is required from your current research advisor. You may request up to two supplemental letters from other faculty. Provide each recommendation writer’s name and email address in the "Request Reference" section, which may be submitted or edited independently of the rest of the application at any time before the deadline.

Selecting PRISM Faculty Mentors

The Guidance for Finding Potential Mentors for helpful general information about applying for postdoctoral training, through PRISM or elsewhere. provides helpful information about applying for postdoctoral training. The Propel Postdoctoral Scholars Program blog has an excellent series of posts on this as well.

Potential Postdoc Research Direction(s)

Some graduate students pursue postdoctoral research that continues in their graduate research trajectory, while others apply their expertise to an entirely different research area. You may have ideas for possible research directions, and faculty who know your work and interests can help you brainstorm possibilities.

Questions to aid your exploration:

  • 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?
  • What new expertise might you develop?

Finding Faculty

With over 2200 faculty at Stanford doing diverse and interesting research, take your time to explore a wide variety of mentor options before narrowing down for the PRISM application. Most faculty are eligible as PRISM mentors. Here are some ways to find potential mentors:

  • Search the literature for Stanford faculty doing work related to your  research interests t may be potential mentors or collaborators.
  • Browse departments in the Schools of Engineering, Humanities & Sciences, and Medicine or the Doerr School of Sustainability.
  • Search keywords in Stanford Profiles to explore individual faculty members, including the research keywords and networks in their Publications tab..
  • For research in the biosciences, explore the T32 programs. Contact the program PI to express interest, and review their associated faculty list for potential mentors
  • 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 at the top of the 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

Before submitting the PRISM application, contact each faculty member you are considering, ideally within 1 month of the application deadline, unless you will meet them in person earlier (e.g., at a meeting, conference, or talk).

In a brief email to faculty, include:

  • Who you are (name, graduate institution, advisor’s name, research topic area)
  • Why you are interested in pursuing postdoctoral training with that faculty member.
  • Mention that you are applying for the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs PRISM postdoc recruitment program ( which may cover your travel costs for an interview.

You may submit any faculty name, regardless of whether you were able to contact them or get a response. We have found having the candidate reach out before PRISM does increases the likelihood of faculty engagement.

Research Alignment Statements

REQUIRED for each faculty member. Explain in SPECIFIC DETAIL how your proposed research direction aligns with each faculty mentor’s interests and how your current work supports this (up to 350 words).

These are visible to all reviewing faculty. Make them thoughtful, demonstrating your understanding of the faculty member's work. What do you bring to their group, and what will training with them bring to you?  DO NOT use the same statement for each with only the faculty name changed – they will notice!

Preparing for the PRISM Visit

During the PRISM visit, recruits:

  • Explore Stanford with a cohort of other PRISM recruits
  • Interview with faculty, visit their research group, and give a research talk
  • Meet current Stanford postdocs, including representatives of SURPAS, the postdoc association, and the postdoc affinity groups: SBPA, SLPA, SCPA, and LGBTQIA+ Postdocs
  • Learn more about postdoctoral training and receive personal attention, professional development and coaching, to help recruits find the best training environment for them

To prepare for PRISM interviews, recruits should:

  • Read faculty’s recent papers and research website. Craft questions that demonstrate understanding of and alignment with their work
  • Practice articulating your research foundations and interests, the contributions they bring to each research group, and ideas you have for complimentary research projects in each research group
  • Prepare a research talk (usually one hour, including Q&A) which you may present once for multiple groups or several times during your visit, depending on scheduling and faculty preferences
  • Reflect on research questions, techniques, approaches you want to pursue and skills you need to develop in postdoctoral training
  • Consider the characteristics of mentors and research environments that are most and least suited to you
  • Identify what factors could support your success and thriving during postdoctoral training and into your next career step
  • Plan strategic questions to explore fit in research, mentoring, and environment as you assess postdoc opportunities