Join Us: Graduate Research Assistants

Graduate students are the main engine for research progress in the Hanson Group. We are looking for enthusiastic, experimentally inclined, creative, and hardworking students with a passion for learning. Most students join the group with previous research or work experience from college, internships, or employment, but this is not required. Almost none of the students in the Hanson Group had knowledge of shock tubes, laser diagnostics, or kinetics before joining the group. The coursework at Stanford and the other Hanson Group graduate students teach new members everything needed to thrive. Students are asked to stay in the group for their entire MS-Ph.D. degree career, rather than just come for an MS degree. In exchange, funding for students is guaranteed by Professor Hanson through this entire period, provided research and academic progress are satisfactory and the qualifying exam is passed.

How to Apply

Prospective graduate students must first be admitted to Stanford University's Graduate School of Engineering. Students should apply to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, rather than to the Department of Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering. Applicants with an MS in mechanical engineering should apply directly to the Ph.D. program. Applicants who do not have an MS should apply to the Masters Degree (MS) program, and upon completion of the MS degree requirements and passage of the qualifying exam will be admitted to the Ph.D. program. Along with applying to the Stanford Graduate School, a prospective graduate student should email Professor Hanson ( with the following items:

  • Resume/CV
  • Brief description of previous research or internships (if any)
  • Short summary of what aspects of the Hanson Group's research he/she finds interesting
  • List of fellowships he/she has been awarded or is applying for
Please do not send transcripts or test scores in this email; Professor Hanson may ask you for these if needed. If you are still working on your application to the Department of Mechanical Engineering after having made this initial contact with Professor Hanson, make sure that you mention in your application essay your interest in the Hanson Group and that you have already reached out to learn more. Current graduate students at Stanford who are interested in joining the group should begin taking classes in the Thermosciences Division and contact Professor Hanson as detailed above. As far as timing is concerned, making initial contact with Professor Hanson to communicate interest is always better to do earlier than later.


While Professor Hanson's research grants fund the tuition and stipend for many students in the group, funding from graduate research fellowships is another valuable resource that all applicants should pursue. Outstanding pre-MS students will be considered for five-quarter fellowships that are awarded on a competitive basis by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. No additional application is necessary for this fellowship aside from the application to admission to the graduate school MS program. A list of external fellowships to which mechanical engineering applicants can apply is provided below.