The Nation’s Largest University Undergraduate Research Program

In UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences, students dive into scientific research right from the start. The pioneering Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) gives first-year students the opportunity to initiate and engage in real-world research experience with faculty and graduate students. Our companion Accelerated Research Initiative offers a parallel experience to upper division students.

Our program has become a national model for science education, as students are more likely to stay in college, complete science and math degrees, and graduate better prepared to pursue advanced degrees or jobs in industry.

Labs as Launch Pads for Discovery

Students explore unanswered questions in science, math and technology. They uncover new knowledge and develop innovative technologies in specialized programs like these:

Autonomous Robots

In the Autonomous Robots research stream, freshmen program intelligent machines to interact on their own with visitors to the UT Austin campus.

DIY DIagnostics

In the DIY Diagnostics research stream, first-year students develop take-home diagnostic tools and apps used to detect disease and measure environmental quality.

Bugs in Bugs

In the Bugs in Bugs research stream, students study the gut bacteria of pollinators and other insects to better understand the impact of microbial bacteria on the health of crucial species, such as bees.


In the Biofuels research stream, undergraduates contribute to a major National Science Foundation-funded project to examine whether plants like switchgrass can be used for energy in place of oil.