FYRE

The First Year Research Experience (FYRE) Program supports full-time, degree-seeking, first-year students who are work-study eligible. Through the program, Federal Work Study awards support a research or creative activities job, under the supervision and guidance of a faculty mentor. Students are employed by the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships or the TRIO/Student Support Services program and are matched with an undergraduate research assistant position on campus. During the academic year, FYRE students will commit to 5-10 hours per week on their assigned project and will be paid an hourly wage. In addition to working on their assigned research or creative project, FYRE students participate in skill-building events and workshops as well as the interactive HuskerWork professional development program.

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 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. Since the program’s inception in 2019, more than 40 FYRE students have received UCARE awards to continue research in the second year, and 10 have been selected as Ronald E. McNair Scholars.

Students

The FYRE Program allows eligible freshmen students to use their Federal Work Study award (a type of financial aid) to be employed on a research or creative project, under the supervision and guidance of a faculty mentor. Students are employed by the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships and are matched with an FYRE undergraduate research assistant position on campus.

  • How FYRE Placement Works

    Eligible incoming freshman students receive work-study award and student employment information from the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships (Husker Hub). In June and July, incoming students with work-study awards can review the directory of FYRE opportunities and complete a short application form, including selecting their top three choices of research or creative projects.

    By Fall term start, the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships will match applicants with faculty mentors and notify applicants of their placements. Though a FYRE placement is not guaranteed, every effort will be made to make a connection that works for both the prospective FYRE student and the faculty mentor.

  • Are you eligible to apply to FYRE?

    Eligible students will be identified and recruited by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (Husker Hub), Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, and the TRIO/SSS program in summer. To be eligible to apply for FYRE, you must: 

    • Have a minimum 2.5 high school GPA;
    • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
    • Accept a federal work-study award, under the Financial Aid section in MyRED;
    • Be enrolled at UNL for Fall term, as a full-time, degree-seeking, freshman student;
    • Commit to at least 5-10 hours per week on the assigned research or creative project.
  • FYRE Hourly Positions

    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.

  • Program Timeline
    Applications open: annually, June-July
    Student Application Deadline: July 31, 2023
    FYRE placement announcement: August 21, 2023
    FYRE begins: September 5, 2023
    FYRE ends: May 16, 2024

Are you a new freshman with a work-study award? Apply to FYRE by July 31, 2023!

Please direct questions to Kali Patterson, Project Coordinator, at ucare@unl.edu.

Apply Now!

 

Faculty

The Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, in collaboration with TRIO/Student Support Services, is seeking faculty mentors for the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) cohort for Academic Year 2023-24. Our mentors enjoy the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with students who are genuinely interested in the university’s land-grant research mission.

  • The FYRE Mentoring Mission

    Undergraduate research and first-year experiences are both considered high-impact practices for undergraduate education. FYRE faculty mentors are committed to student success and are interested in designing and guiding research or creative projects specifically for new freshmen. 

    In addition to supporting student learning about Nebraska’s culture of research innovation, FYRE mentors support student belongingness in the research environment and all of the university’s Colleges. Through providing meaningful social connection with research teams and co-curricular professional development workshops, FYRE aims to improve freshman student retention from the first to second year, a critical period for college student retention.

    Compared to the UNL student population at large, FYRE students are twice as likely to be first generation college students (51% for FYRE, versus 24% for UNL students). Our collaborative efforts with faculty to retain first-generation college students have been immensely successful. In 2021-22, for first-generation, first-time freshmen specifically, the fall-to-spring term retention rate was 96.8% in FYRE, compared to 88.5% in the overall UNL student population.

  • How do I become a FYRE Mentor?

    In May, prospective faculty mentors submit research or creative project descriptions to the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships using the FYRE Opportunities form below. To complete the form, you will need a project title and description, potential tasks and responsibilities, desired student qualifications, a mentoring plan, and space for comments. 

    There is no financial commitment needed from the faculty mentor, just a willingness to design an appropriately benchmarked project and provide close supervision and a supportive work environment for 1-3 FYRE freshmen. FYRE students are employed by the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships or the TRIO/SSS program 

  • FYRE Hourly Positions

    Unlike the UCARE stipend-based program, FYRE students are hourly workers and submit timesheets. Because work-study funds are limited, FYRE students are expected to work a consistent schedule of no more than 10 hours weekly. Pay distribution is biweekly. Depending on the student’s funding source, payroll setup is completed by the Big Red Business Center or TRIO program. Once payroll information is entered into the system and the program begins, your FYRE student may view deposit statements and other employment-related information in Firefly.

  • Mentoring Timeline

    In early May, the FYRE Opportunities form opens for faculty to submit project descriptions. By early June, Undergraduate Research & Fellowships staff post project descriptions to the FYRE Opportunities Directory.

    In June & July, the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships and TRIO/SSS promote FYRE Opportunities to incoming freshmen through New Student Enrollment, Husker Hub, Summer Bridge, etc.

    In early August, faculty will review applications and return a shortlist to the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, who will make the final placements. Every effort will be made to make a connection that works for both the faculty mentor and the FYRE student.

    By the 1st week of Fall classes, FYRE students receive notification of their job matches. Those who accept positions start payroll paperwork. 

    In early September (typically the first business day after Labor Day holiday), FYRE work experiences begin. 

    In Spring term graduation week, FYRE positions end.

    Important Dates for 2023-24

    June 26 (extended) – FYRE Opportunities descriptions due

    July 31 – Student applications due

    August 1-11 – Application review and ranking

    August 14-18 – Placements finalized

    August 21 – Placement notifications to students & mentors

    August 22-September 1 – Payroll setup

    September 5 – FYRE positions & paid training begin

    October 1 – 1st Huskerwork module (Communication) begins

    May 16 – FYRE positions end

 

Mentors may submit FYRE project descriptions by June 26, 2023.

Please direct questions to Kali Patterson, Project Coordinator, at ucare@unl.edu.

Submit FYRE Opportunities

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