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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Program Basics

2. Structure of FRI Courses

3. Research Streams 

4. Research Outside the Program

5. Open House and Registration

6. Scholarships/Fees


Who can participate in the program?

New first-year students can participate in FRI. Students are invited via e-mail to the program through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

If you missed this first-year experience, consider applying for the Summer Research Immersion (SRI) program.

Who is chosen for the program?

Admissions will invite a diverse population of incoming Harpur and Watson 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.

How long is the program?

FRI is a three-semester program. All FRI students take a Research Methods seminar their first semester. During the second  and third semesters, laboratory courses are specific to the stream, and students conduct research.

What are the steps to enroll in the program?

1. Receive an e-mail invite from BU Admissions Office.

2. Using the link provided in the invitation, access the online registration 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. Space is limited to 30 students per research stream.

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.

Are all parts of the program mandatory, or are parts optional?

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. Also, there are 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 or expected.

If I am interested in pre-health, which research stream should I choose?

Currently, we have five research streams that would give you experience in those areas. Microbial biofilms in human health (microbiology) studies bacteria that create films that protect them against antibiotics and so those bacteria are major causes of infection in burns, cystic fibrosis in the lungs, IV catheters and artificial joints. Biomedical anthropology focuses on study of indigenous populations around the world and their subsistence, health, evolution, adaptations to diseases, via changing diets, activity patterns and environments. Biomedical chemistry addresses, for example, cellular microtubules that are the target for a number of drugs effective against diseases such as cancer. Neuroscience focuses on how neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, work and how to alleviate them. Community & Global Public Health focuses on study of promoting healthy life styles, creating healthy communities, and evaluating culturally appropriate health programs.   Also, some of the research in Image-&-Acoustic-Signals-Analysis addresses health issues, such as better ways of monitoring pain, via pain recognition in people's faces.

Does the program follow a regular grading system?

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 seminar, 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 (second and third semesters) is run as an authentic research lab. You will have access to faculty and teaching assistants throughout. 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. We strongly encourage FRI students to register for 16-18 credits in the first semester. Students can petition Harpur Academic Advising if they wish to take more.

What are the details of each stream?

The research streams are described on the Research Stream web pages.


Which faculty are involved in each stream?

The faculty involved in each research stream are listed on the Research Stream web pages.

Do the students in each stream work independently or with one another?

For the research conducted, students will work in teams of 3-4. 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.

I want to switch my stream. Can I do that?

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.

When do I find out which stream I am accepted into?

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.

I wasn't invited to the program. Can I still do research at Binghamton University?

Yes. Once you come to Binghamton, you will have access to many professors that are 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.

If you missed this first-yearfirst-year opportunity, consider applying for the Summer Research Immersion (SRI) program. SRI is a ten-week intensive research experience, for 8 credits, in which students work in teams on the same kinds of research problems addressed in FRI. It is designed for students with at least one year of college courses.

I am a transfer student. Can I still do research at Binghamton?

Yes. Once you come to Binghamton, you will want to connect with the Undergraduate Research Center.

Also, you should look at the Summer Research Immersion program.

I have been invited to join the FRI program starting next fall, but I am planning to defer until spring. Can I still participate?

No. You have been invited to the FRI program starting in a specific fall semester only. If you start at Binghamton in the spring semester, you can explore available research opportunities through the Undergraduate Research Center.

Another option is to look into the Summer Research Immersion program.

If you are planning to defer one full year, you can request to defer starting the FRI until the following fall.

How do I register for FRI courses?

You will be automatically pre-registered for your first FRI course (Research Methods) before first-year 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.

What information can I get about FRI at Binghamton's  Open House?

FRI students and faculty should be available to answer any questions you may have. At Binghamton's Open House, the tour guides are a great resource. Visit our sessions to get a closer look at the science buildings, hear personal stories and inquire about what research at Binghamton entails.

Do I get scholarship money for participating?

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

Are there any fees associated with this program?

Yes. You will be charged an additional $150 in lab fees for both your second and third semesters, for a total cost of $300. 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.


Last Updated: 10/29/19