Freshman Research Initiative

Freshman Research Initiative
Founded 2005
Focus Education Through Research
Key people
Dr. Erin Dolan, Executive Director

The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI), developed at the University of Texas at Austin, gives first-year students in the College of Natural Sciences the opportunity to conduct research in chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, molecular biology, physics, astronomy and computer sciences.

The pilot program started with 45 students in three Research Streams. Currently, about 800 freshmen each year are enrolled in 26 different Research Streams within FRI. Each Research Stream is led by a faculty member who provides guidance to their respective Research Streams, set goals and directions, and develop and teach the Research Experience courses to the students within their stream. Each Research Stream has its own dedicated lab, which is run by a research scientist dedicated to the stream. Major funding for this program was provided by National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Students who participate in the FRI are 30-35% more likely to graduate with a science degree and 23% more likely to go to graduate school. In addition the program is significantly boosting the number of Hispanic students majoring in science, and approximately 103 students have been included as authors of published research papers.[1]


  1. R. I. Shear, S. L. Simmons. Teaching through research: Five-year outcome data from the Freshman Research Initiative at The University of Texas at Austin. Presented at American Chemical Society 67th Southwest Regional Meeting, Austin, TX, Nov 11, 2011.
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