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Department of Biology

First-Year Research Initiative (FRI)

Are you interested in conducting biology research during your first year at Penn State?

Join The FRI Lab!

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FRI Lab Symbol

What is the First-Year Research Initiative (FRI)?

The FRI Lab is a two-semester lab course sequence that gives students an authentic research experience and provides a support to connect you to a research laboratory. Students are supported by faculty and by undergraduate FRI alumni in the sequence.

How to sign up? Students sign up during New Student Orientation (NSO) in the summer before their first-year. The only requirements are that you are excited to learn research skills and to earn an extra research credit (BIOL294) each semester for conducting independent and collaborative research projects. 

Fall semester: In lieu of the original BIOL110 lab, FRI student researchers explore biological research practice and design their own independent research projects with the support of the Fall Research Mentors (Teaching Professors) and undergraduate learning assistants (FRI alumni)! FRI research students also earn an additional BIOL294 Research Credit for taking this lab course.

Spring semester: FRI student researchers work with a Spring Research Mentor (Research Professors) on authentic research in lieu of the BIOL230 lab. FRI research students also earn an additional BIOL294 Research Credit for taking this lab course.

Learn more about the FRI faculty and our research community by visiting our LinkedIn alumni group

Have we sparked your curiosity?!

Please send any questions about getting involved with Biology Research to the FRI Coordinator, Dr. Carly Sjogren, at carly.sjogren@psu.edu.

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Two happy student researchers from the FRI Lab
Priscila Salinas [left] and Emma Voigt [right] present their poster from the Penn State First-Year Research Initiative's poster night, from the Spring 2019 semester.

Previous FRI Research Mentors

2023 - CURRENT 

Associate Teaching Professor and Coordinator of the First-Year Research Initiative (FRI)
Phone:

2022-2023  

2015 - 2022

Dr. Kim Nelson

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Photo of Dr. Nelson

Dr. Kim Nelson

2015 - 2022

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Photo of Dr. Nelson
Associate Teaching Professor and Coordinator of the First-Year Research Initiative (FRI)
Phone:
Professor of Biology, Associate Department Head of Research and Faculty Success
Email:
Phone:
Professor of Biology and Louis and Hedwig Sternberg Chair in Plant Biology
Email:
Phone:

Are you interested in Undergraduate Research but:

  • you have already started your first year?
  • you are not a biology major?
  • you are interested in experiencing opportunities at Penn State and beyond?

The National Science Foundations Research Experience for Undergraduate (NSF REU) has an incredible database of opportunities! You can search for an NSF REU site in any science field or by location! These REU opportunities are available for applications that are typically due in January-February for the summer of that year. There are SO MANY interesting research opportunities. Summer of 2024 has 742 listings! Check them out and apply now!