Ruth Shear (University of Texas – Austin, USA)
Incredible potential exists at large research institutions to create a generation of science-minded innovators through undergraduate research, yet current models have limitations of scale, and often, access. The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) at UT-Austin is a faculty-initiated reinvention of our undergraduate research paradigm, recruiting 600+ freshmen each year into an integrated three-semester research-based course sequence that increases the number and diversity of students engaged in research, and significantly impacts student success and engagement. One of our goals is to extend research opportunities to students who have traditionally not chosen, or not had access to, such experiences. UT-Austin has an extremely diverse campus, being listed among the top ten institutions for bachelors degrees awarded to Hispanics. By providing transformative educational experiences to large numbers of students, we are contributing to a diverse pipeline of future scientists. Our program and its impact on students traditionally under-represented in STEM fields will be discussed.