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The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) at UT Austin is the largest program of its kind in the country. Over 1000 students each year join Research Streams and conduct faculty-led research while earning course credit. FRI works because of the involvement of UT faculty!


Top 5 Reasons to Launch an FRI Stream


  1. Launching a stream can help you get funding! Include FRI in the broader impacts in grants.
  2. Make progress on your research. FRI offers many hands and minds to help solve problems.
  3. Publish! Faculty have published 200+ papers with FRI student co-authors.
  4. Recruitment. You will be able to find and cultivate the best and most interested students and invite them to join your lab after they complete FRI.
  5. Get energized by the enthusiasm that young students bring to research.


How does FRI work?

Faculty-led research groups engage ~35 undergraduate students in a Research Stream—a two-course (Spring & Fall) sequence plus optional summer participation—with the assistance of a Ph.D. faculty member, the “Research Educator,” undergraduate peer mentors, and sometimes other members (graduate students, post-docs, etc.) of their laboratory.


What research disciplines does FRI work for? 


We currently have streams across the spectrum of the scientific areas in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS). 

FRI Flyer editsfor2016


Why Students Love FRI


FRI students have been shown to achieve better outcomes than their peers who did not participate in the program. They are more likely to graduate on time and more likely to earn a science or math degree as planned. Here’s what former student participants have to say about the Freshman Research Initiative:

  • “FRI opened my eyes to research.”
  • “Working with the Biobricks stream made me realize that I loved the challenge of research. . . Before FRI, I had never considered research or continuing in academia, and now I'm pursuing my PhD in polymer chemistry.”
  • “I learned how to present my work to a group and discuss potential solutions and setbacks. I would go back 100 times and do the program again with every single stream!”
  • “FRI granted me the opportunity to not only cultivate research skills but to learn to mentor others.” 




With the help of faculty and donors, FRI has grown since 2005.

With student demand ever increasing, additional and renewed faculty participation would help reduce the waitlists for the program and ensure more students who want to participate in early research get the opportunity.

FRI chart 





For sustainability, faculty contribute to the cost of their Research Streams. The average contribution is roughly 25% of the cost of the stream, around $25k per year for stream supplies or Research Educator salary. 


If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact:

Dr. Kara Rogers, Director of Freshman Research | khrogers@austin.utexas.edu