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Start a Research Stream

The university-wide initiative at Binghamton University for authentic research experience for freshmen intending to be STEM (science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics) majors is conducted via the Provost's Office.

Ideas for Research Streams should be discussed with the Director of the FRI program before submitting a written proposal. Proposals for a Research Stream should conform to the framework of the FRI program:

  • At least three faculty who are active in the research field partnering to design and direct the Research Stream
  • Potential for the Research Stream to generate peer-reviewed publications that include undergraduate student authors, and evidence supporting that from past three years
  • Potential for the Research Stream to provide supplies and summer and/or academic year undergraduate researcher stipends after FRI students complete the FRI program, and evidence supporting that from past three years
  • Potential for the Research Stream to generate authentic research modules that can be inserted into introductory and gateway STEM courses, and any evidence supporting that
  • Identification of three to six core concepts of the discipline that FRI students will be expected to master
  • Identification of three to six core skills of the discipline that FRI students will be expected to master
  • List of basic equipment and supplies needed for a laboratory room dedicated to the Research Stream, with 25-30 students, each working 8+ hours per week of the semester in the lab; and estimate of cost for equipment and annual supply budget
  • Students are expected to earn four credits each semester of the Research Stream (freshman spring and sophomore fall). These credits should apply to their proposed major.
  • Proposals for an intensive summer research experience will be considered if they fit the spirit of the FRI framework
  • Assessment will be conducted by the FRI program, via OIRA statistical analyses and  surveys approved by BU's IRB.

How Do Research Streams Work?

Each Research Stream is generated by the research programs of the faculty members involved. The Research Stream develops a curriculum designed to ease students into independent work as quickly and effectively as possible. The faculty team is responsible for the research direction, organizing the weekly stream meetings, and delegating responsibility to and supervising the post-doctoral associate designated for the Research Stream. The post-doctoral associate develops instructional materials, supervises the graduate teaching assistants and undergraduate peer mentors, and oversees the day-to-day stream activities and research. The post-doctoral associate is responsible for the stream budget and orders materials for a lab to serve 30 students. The post-doctoral associates, graduate teaching assistants and undergraduate peer mentors participate weekly in the FRI seminar/workshop, which assists with formative and summative assessment of the streams and the FRI students' progress.

Faculty Sponsorship of Research Streams

Faculty sponsorship of FRI streams is voluntary. It is expected that faculty sponsors attended the annual FRI Fall Research Poster Symposium and other FRI events as much as is possible. Other events include the FRI Fall Faculty-Student Mixer and semester meeting of faculty team with FRI staff (which may include interviewing RE candidates). Every year we invite faculty sponsors to participate in informational sessions with students and parents, such as Q&A with students in the Research Methods course and/or "10-minute stream introduction" with accepted students and their families during BU's Spring Admitted Students Open Houses. Most faculty sponsors are involved in those ways, as well as by visiting student teams in the Research Stream courses and/or scheduling meetings with student teams.

We know and understand there are semesters when faculty have other obligations that limit their availability (e.g., on sabbatical elsewhere). However, to maintain "truth in advertising" about the FRI Research Streams (to students, their families, funding agencies and so forth), we will not continue to post names of faculty who have not been actively involved during the prior academic year. Of course, faculty who are not currently participating as "sponsors" can and do enlist former FRI students into the faculty research programs.

Faculty involvement with our "Life After FRI" program

One of the benefits to students and faculty is that FRI expands students' opportunities for additional research experiences. Upon completion of the FRI sequence, many students seek further research with the faculty sponsors and/or other faculty, even in different research areas. Faculty routinely comment that FRI students have developed professional skills and work ethic that allows them to enter faculty lab groups at an advanced level. And that these students quickly learn any new technical skills needed – because they have learned how and when to get any help they may need for that.
In turn, faculty have proposed and developed various links to FRI. Some examples:

  • Fast-track "3+2" BA-MS in Biomedical Anthropology is linked to FRI Molecular & Biomedical Anthropology, thus FRI students are well positioned to obtain BA-MS after 5 years, which makes them highly marketable for interesting and well-paying jobs and/or graduate/medical school.
  • Pending fast-track "3+2" BA-MA in Environmental Science is linked to FRI Environmental Visualization with Drones (aka Geospatial Sensing), which makes students highly marketable for good jobs and/or graduate school.

In addition, departments have re-examined their curriculum in light of the FRI outcomes.

Some examples:

  • Biological Sciences Department transitioned its Introductory Biology Laboratory course to a stand-alone CURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience) to serve 400 students per semester starting in Fall 2018.
  • Biological Sciences Department is developing several Advanced CURE courses, that students can take after the introductory CURE.

Last Updated: 5/6/19