Our Mission

Why we do what we do

Stream Researchers

FRI Mission Statement

The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) provides early access to sustained, supportive, intra-curricular research experiences for a diverse undergraduate student population in CNS. FRI participants will clarify their career goals, develop skills transferable to other courses and future careers, and maximize their likelihood of graduating and persisting in STEM.

What the Data Show

FRI has become a national model for science education. Students in the program are more likely to stay in college, complete science and math degrees and earn more after graduation.

  • FRI builds confidence, problem-solving abilities and habits of critical thinking.
  • FRI students are more likely to graduate with a STEM degree
  • FRI students effectively learn career readiness and transferrable skills

Experiencing Long-Term Benefits
Students who participate in FRI not only are show greater college and STEM retention, they also graduate better prepared to pursue advanced degrees or jobs in the industry. 

Read about the research



Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)


An active commitment to DEI in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is essential for the advancement of science, realizing research goals, and enables scientific innovation. In FRI, we advocate for inclusivity and aim to provide a supportive and equitable learning environment that promotes student belongingness, growth, achievement, and success as they develop as future scientists and innovators. We remain informed of the barriers faced by all our students, including, but not limited to those who are DACA/undocumented, disabled, first generation, gender minorities, international students, LGBTQIA+, neurodivergent, students of color and veterans.


The following outlines our approach and commitment to DEI:


All FRI Research Faculty, Peer Mentors, and Staff aim to:

  • Understand the value and importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia and beyond.
  • Recruit and encourage diverse students to persist in STEM.
  • Retain and support diverse students in FRI and subsequent academic/professional experiences.
  • Provide mentorship for advanced degrees and professional pathways.
  • Be effective allies by staying current with strategies and practices for supporting and advocating for diverse groups.
  • Promote inclusivity and belonging by celebrate diversity using a multicultural identity affirming approach in the classroom and the lab.

A Model For Science Education

FRI is the nation’s first and largest program to place freshmen in dedicated labs doing real, original research. This program is modular, exportable and infinitely scalable, so it is changing the way students learn science at The University of Texas at Austin. It serves also as a model for other colleges and universities as they look to modernize their STEM curricula and priorities for the 21st Century.

FRI Replication Sites