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Since its inaugural class of just 43 students in 2005, the Freshman Research Initiative has served thousands of Longhorns, providing unparalleled experiential learning opportunities in scientific laboratories.
FRI alumni and friends make us proud, here in the College of Natural Sciences, and we love to hear the stories of how all of you are out changing the world.


A Letter to FRI Alumni & Friends from the Director

Dear Friends of the Freshman Research Initiative,

Recently, I saw something I had never seen before and perhaps you did, too: I stood outside my office, near the UT Tower, and I watched as the moon blotted out the sun for a few moments mid-day. It reminded me of how amazing it feels to see something for the first time. I imagine the excitement of the solar eclipse is a lot like the feeling experienced by our new and largest-ever Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) cohort.

There are 1,000 new FRI students, all budding scientists who will make new discoveries and new friends in their time at the University. They will see things that are not only new to them but new to all of us. Like Joe Angel Espinoza of the Luminators research stream, they could develop skills and resilience that are applicable for medical research and make a discovery about a new compound. Like Eric Yu of the Computational Design research stream, they could win an award at a major computer science conference for remarkable problem-solving linked to technology many of us use, such as 3D printing.

Jamie Sullivan FRI

Like Jamie Sullivan of the White Dwarf Stars research stream, they could make their mark in exploration and win a prestigious astronaut scholarship. Or, like Annie Campbell, Lyndsey Aguirre, and Austen Brockman (in image to right), students in the Plant Pathways stream, they could co-author a paper on plant biology published in a peer-reviewed journal.

I had lunch with Lyndsey just before she left for graduate school, and when I asked her what inspired her to pursue further study, she told me she found her passion in her FRI stream. She said the most important thing about the research stream was that it was a welcoming place for making friends, as well as discoveries.

Talking with Lyndsey renewed my desire to provide a space in FRI for every student who wants one, and for that, I need your help. We serve more students each year and are serving more this year than ever before, but demand for our program also continues to grow. This year the FRI waitlist topped 500 students. Every gift, large or small, helps students like Jaime, Joe, Eric, Annie, Lyndsey, and Austen find their passion for research.

Thank you all for your continued support,

Stacia Rodenbusch
Freshman Research Initiative