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The Freshman Research Initiative introduces first-year college students to real research experiences alongside faculty scientists for over a decade. Thousands of freshmen have participated in FRI in the past ten years, experiencing a range of benefits. FRI students are 35% more likely to graduate in four years, and twice as likely to graduate with a degree in science or math compared to non-participants. They earn higher GPAs and are about three times more likely to pursue an advanced degree.

The FRI’s proven positive results have caught the attention of other institutions around Texas and the country, with several universities now replicating the program on their own campuses. Visit the links below to learn more about FRI-like efforts on and beyond the forty acres.


First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE), University of Maryland

FIRE at the University of Maryland, run by a UT Austin alumnus who served as a research educator in FRI, launched in 2014 with eight streams that serve more than two hundred students. Current research stream topics at Maryland include antibiotic resistance, the science of addiction, and even one working on the genome of the Terrapin (the University’s mascot).

Program to Educate and Retain Students in STEM Tracks (PERSIST), UT El Paso

PERSIST at the University of Texas at El Paso began as a Science Education AlliancePhage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science research project and adapted to expand research opportunities for first-year students. It launched in 2014 with three new faculty-led research streams, serving 75 students.

Freshman Research Immersion, Binghamton University--SUNY

Binghamton University’s Freshman Research Immersion program targets STEM students and launched with three research streams serving around 90 students, with a plan to add streams each year. Immersion streams are designed to be collaborative and interdisciplinary across multiple areas of science.

Achieving Success through Undergraduate Research and Engagement (ASSURE), UT Arlington

ASSURE launched in 2014: its first full cohort of 24 freshmen researchers began working in interdisciplinary labs with lead scientists from two departments. Students receive considerable guidance in conducting original research the first semester and then develop their own testable research questions by the third semester, similar to FRI. UT Arlington hopes to eventually expand the model across the University.

Freshman Research Initiative, UT Rio Grande Valley

FRI at UT RGV was initiated in fall 2013 in the Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences in the College of Health Affairs and embedded into the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences program (BMED). The FRI program is a four-course sequence that includes Research Methods, Research Techniques, and Research Experience I and II. The goals of the program are to increase persistence in the Biomedical Sciences and increase student satisfaction.

Iowa State University Freshman Research Initiative

The ISU Freshman Research Initiative is comprised of different research streams in the fields of geology and meteorology, electrical and computer engineering, and molecular biology. Future aims of the program are to integrate research streams into STEM curriculum to ensure the long-term success of the Freshman Research Institution at Iowa State University.