Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Program Basics
- Who can participate in the program?
- Who is chosen for the program?
- How long is the program?
- What are the steps to enroll in the program?
- Are all parts of the program mandatory, or are parts optional?
- I really want to participate in the program, but I was notified that the slots are full. Is there any chance I can still be a part of the program?
- I have no previous experience with research, but am going to accept my invitation into the program. Will I be at a disadvantage in comparison to the other students?
2. Structure of FRI Courses
- Does the program follow a regular grading system?
- Is it structured like a regular college course? For example, will I have the ability to go to office hours and get additional help?
- How many FRI course credits are there in the first semester? And how many total course credits can I take in the first semester?
3. Research Streams
- What are the details of each stream?
- Which faculty are involved in each stream?
- Do the students in each stream work independently or with one another?
- I want to switch my stream. Can I do that?
- When do I find out which stream I am accepted into?
4. Research Outside the Program
- I wasn't invited to the program. Can I still do research at Binghamton University?
- I am a transfer student. Can I still do research at Binghamton University?
- I have been invited to join the FRI program starting in Fall 2014, but I am planning to defer. Can I still participate?
5. Open House and Registration
New freshmen can participate in FRI. For the pilot year, students are invited via e-mail to the program through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Admissions will invite a diverse population of incoming Harpur students who indicated interest in the STEM fields, and those students who are undecided. Students are chosen for having high academic merit and a possible interest in research.
FRI is a three-semester program. All FRI students take a Research Methods course the first semester of their freshman year. During the second semester of freshmen year and first semester of sophomore year, courses are specific to the stream, and students conduct research.
1. Receive an e-mail invite from admissions.
2. Using the link provided in the invitation, access the online form, complete it and submit. You will be asked to rank your preference in streams on the form.
3. Pay your enrollment deposit online no later than May 1.
4. Receive a FRI acceptance letter indicating your stream.
a. Acceptance is on a first come, first served basis
b. If you are not accepted initially, you will be placed on a wait list. Students will be notified over the summer if slots become available.
If you accept your offer, you agree to commit to all parts of the program and to complete the three-semester sequence.
I really want to participate in the program, but I was notified that the slots are full. Is there any chance I can still be a part of the program?
A waiting list will be kept according to the date of student registration. If a student drops the program, the first person on the list will be notified, and so on and so forth. However, it is advised to not count on this outcome. There are many other research opportunities available to students.
I have no previous experience with research, but am going to accept my invitation into the program. Will I be at a disadvantage in comparison to the other students?
This is a step-by-step program that allows students to progress at a rate that makes sense given different backgrounds and experience. Students will be provided with constant feedback and guidance to help them develop their research skills. Thus, previous research experience is not necessary.
Yes, the students are taking courses for the FRI program, and receive grades for those courses. However, the grades for the FRI courses are not on a curve. This means that there is not a pre-determined distribution of grades. The course grades are based on achieved competency and research progress.
Is it structured like a regular college course? For example, will I have the ability to go to office hours and get additional help?
In the research methods course, there will be an hour-long lecture period with all of the students, and then they will split into smaller groups of 30. There will be office hours available for this course. The laboratory portion of the program is run as an authentic research lab. If a student wants additional help, the student can and should ask the professors or a graduate teaching assistant for assistance, just as the student would if conducting an independent study project. In addition, the FRI program monitors the progress of all students, and so checks individually with students about their progress.
How many FRI course credits are there in the first semester? And how many total course credits can I take in the first semester?
In the first semester, two course credits are FRI Research Methods. Harpur students may register for a maximum of 18 credits per semester. Students can petition Harpur Academic Advising if they wish to take more.
Smart Energy (Chemistry-Physics)
Current research in this area includes work with photovoltaic systems, thin film electronics, thermoelectric systems, lithium-ion batteries and super-capacitators.
Students will become acquainted with:
Basic bacteriology and concepts of microbial biofilm physiology
Mechanisms of bacterial resistance and drug tolerance
Formulating hypothesis-driven research questions based on interpretation of scientific literature
Microbiology and biofilm research-related lab techniques
Planning experiments and initiating research on microbial biofilm resistance
Neuroscience (Neuro-degenerative diseases)
- Focus on the intersection between neuro-inflammation and neuro-degeneration in animals models of disease
- Explore mechanisms that contribute to disorders of the brain (e.g. Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease)
- Develop a diverse, multi-faceted, inquiry-based research approach in neuroscience
Biofilms (Microbiology) Stream: This four-faculty team consists of Professors Karin Sauer, David G. Davies, Claudia N.H. Marques and Jeffrey W. Schertzer in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Smart Energy (Chemistry-Physics) Stream: This four-faculty team consists of Professors Wayne Jones (Chemistry), Stan Whittingham (Materials Science & Engineering), Bruce White (Physics) and Louis Piper (Physics).
Neuroscience Stream: This three-faculty team consists of Professors Chris Bishop, Terry Deak and Lisa Savage.
For the research conducted, students will work in teams of 2-3. We have students work interdependently because developing teamwork and collaborative skills are so important in research today. Each student team will work on a research question that is related to the overall objective of the research stream for that year.
During your first semester, if slots become available in the stream you are interested in, you may be able to switch streams. You should not count on this though. FRI is more about the research experience than the research topic. Once you complete the program, you can pursue research opportunities outside of that field.
There is not a definite date as of yet. As soon as all slots are filled in the program, students will be notified of their assignments. If registration goes quickly, notification should not be too far into the future.
Yes. Once you come to Binghamton, you will have access to many professors that are all at the top of their field in research. To begin, we recommend going to the Binghamton University website, typing in the department you are interested in and clicking on the faculty to identify which faculty conduct research you are interested in. If you click on each faculty member, you can find out their research interests, and get links to their publications. From there, you can contact the professor and express your interest. You can also contact the Undergraduate Research Center for assistance.
Yes. Once you come to Binghamton, you will want to connect with the Undergraduate Research Center.
I have been invited to join the FRI program starting in Fall 2014, but I am planning to defer. Can I still participate?
No. You have been invited to the program starting in Fall 2014 only. When you start at Binghamton in the fall, you can explore available research opportunities through the Undergraduate Research Center.
You will be automatically pre-registered for your first FRI course (Research Methods) before freshmen orientation. During orientation, confirm that you are enrolled in the appropriate section for the particular research stream to which you have been assigned.
For the second and third semester FRI courses, you will be informed about what to register for and when.
Students and faculty should be available to answer any questions you may have. At BU Open House, the tour guides are a great resource. Students can request a science tour to get a closer look at the science buildings, hear personal stories and inquire about what research at Binghamton entails.
No. There is no monetary award for the program. Benefits of the program include:
- Course credit
- Development of critical thinking and research skills earlier than most other undergraduates
- Powerful connections with Binghamton faculty
- Recognition for personal research (poster presentation, the possibility of publication, national conferences)
- Build academic credentials for later schooling and career opportunities
Yes. You will be charged an additional $170 in lab fees for both your second semester of freshmen year and your first semester of sophomore year, for a total cost of $340. Research-grade equipment and supplies are expensive. The laboratory fee subsidizes the cost of the research-grade supplies and the need for students to be able to repeat procedures as they learn protocols and design and run experiments.