The First Year Research Experience (FYRE) Program supports full-time, degree-seeking, first-year work students who are work-study eligible. Through the program, Federal Work Study awards support a job in research or creative activities under the supervision and guidance of a faculty mentor. Students are employed by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are matched with a position on campus. Students will commit to 5-10 hours per week on their assigned project and will be paid $10/hour. This year’s cohort will have the opportunity to participate in HuskerWork as part of their FYRE appointment, as well as skill-building workshops and events.

Students who engage in research during the first year typically gain:

  • The opportunity to participate in the co-creation of new knowledge alongside faculty mentors
  • Deeper understanding of how Nebraska’s research innovations contribute to solving global challenges
  • Gains in career-relevant skills, including goal-setting, problem-solving, critical thinking, ethical awareness, information literacy, writing, presentation, and networking skills
  • A sense of connection and community with research team members, including faculty, staff, graduate students, and other undergraduate researchers
  • Improved knowledge of future career and graduate study options
  • Greater self-awareness and confidence in pursuing academic, professional, and personal goals

Many FYRE students also have opportunities to present a talk or poster at an academic conference, or to participate in a creative activities performance or exhibition. FYRE students may also have opportunities to publish their work in academic journals. Members of recent FYRE cohorts also report receiving additional scholarships and fellowships. From the first three FYRE cohorts (2019-2021), 38 FYRE students received UCARE grants to continue research in the second year, and 10 were selected as Ronald E. McNair Scholars.


The FYRE Program allows eligible full-time, degree-seeking freshman to use their Federal Work Study award to find a job in a research or creative activities position under the supervision and guidance of a faculty mentor. Students are employed by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are matched with a position on campus.

  • How It Works

    Eligible incoming students receive work-study award and student employment information from the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships (Husker Hub). In summer prior to the academic year, incoming students with work-study awards can review the directory of FYRE opportunities and complete a short application form that includes selecting their top three job choices. The Office of Undergraduate Research will share applicant information with faculty for all students who have selected the mentor’s project in their top three choices. Faculty will make a shortlist of candidates and return it to the Office of Undergraduate Research who will make the final placements. While there is no guarantee of a match or placement, every effort will be made to make a connection that works for both the faculty mentor and the FYRE student.

    FYRE students are hourly workers and submit timesheets. Pay distribution is biweekly. Depending on the student’s funding source, payroll setup is completed by the Big Red Business Center or TRIO program. About 1 week prior to the program start, new FYRE students who have not previously held a job on campus will be contacted by the payroll contact. You will be asked to complete payroll paperwork and make an appointment to complete the federal I-9 requirement to establish identity and authorization to work in the U.S. You will be asked to provide an acceptable identity document (such as a driver’s license or state ID, or a passport) and proof of employment eligibility (such as a social security card). If you have lost these items, please take steps to locate them or obtain a replacement prior to the program start. Missing documentation will cause delays in receiving your pay. You will also need your banking information if you would like to set up direct deposit of your payments. Once payroll information is entered into the system and the program begins, current participants may view your deposit statements and other employment-related information in Firefly.

  • Student Eligibility

    Eligible students will be identified and recruited by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid in summer. Eligibility requirements include:

    • Having a minimum 2.5 high school GPA;
    • Completing the FAFSA and accepting a federal work-study award;
    • Committing to at least 5-10 hours per week on the assigned project.
  • Program Timeline
    Applications open: June 1, 2022
    Deadline: July 15, 2022
    FYRE placement announcement: August 22, 2022
    FYRE begins: August 29, 2022

Apply to FYRE Now


Faculty members who wish to be considered for a FYRE placement will complete the job description form by May of each academic year.

The job description form includes the project/job title, project description, potential tasks and responsibilities, desired student qualifications and characteristics, and a place for additional comments. All job descriptions will be added to a directory of FYRE opportunities.

  • Considerations

    Each year, we seek faculty mentors who are interested in developing projects and opportunities for freshman and who are committed to student success through high-impact learning experiences like undergraduate research. There is no financial commitment required from the faculty mentor or department. The Office of Undergraduate Research will provide funding for the program.Faculty should set their expectations appropriately and be prepared to spend the necessary time acclimating their FYRE student to their jobs and providing guidance and assistance throughout the year. We encourage faculty mentors to introduce their FYRE students to the other members of your lab or research group including post-docs, graduate students, and other undergraduate students, but faculty mentors should commit to working directly with their FYRE student on a consistent basis.

    Learn more about the program by contacting ucare@unl.edu.

The next application cycle opens April 2023

Submit FYRE Opportunities


Student Researcher Resources

Student Research Success

Quin Barton

Student Research Success
  • Biological Sciences Major '25 Dr. Wayne Riekhof, School of Biological Sciences

Elizabeth Schousek

Student Research Success
  • Plant Biology Major '22 Dr. Wayne Riekhof, School of Biological Sciences

Zack Wahab-Cheek

Student Research Success
  • Music & Economics Majors '22 Dr. Peter Lefferts, Glenn Korff School of Music

Signature Events & Programs

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