About FIRE

FIRE provides students authentic research experience, broad mentorship and degree credit that impact academic success, personal development, a strong sense of community and professional opportunity. We do this through 5 key promises: authentic research practices, discovery, broadly relevant work, collaboration and developed resilience.

Authentic Research Practices

FIRE streams have a focus on authentic and contemporary practices, dealing with real-world gotchas and uncertainties. Our research groups do not engage in research-like experiences or research demonstrations. Rather, our students use equipment, methods and analytical techniques that are current and used in cutting-edge research groups across the world.


Research is exciting because the outcome of any given line of inquiry is generally unknown. This is typically not true in traditional university laboratory courses. FIRE is founded on the idea that first-year students should be exposed to the elation of intellectual discovery.

Broadly Relevant Work

FIRE streams achieve outcomes that have meaning within their disciplines. Stream faculty and Research Educators are driven by the same motivations that drive all academic researchers - publication, successful grant-funded research and wide dissemination of methods and results. In this manner, FIRE students are welcomed to the true, authentic practice and outcomes of the research missions engaged.


Research increasingly involves teams of scientists rather than lone individuals. FIRE streams are run more like a real research lab than a course. In this manner students and faculty continually have the opportunity to interact to solve complex problems thereby developing collaboration and communication skills highly desired by potential employers.


Research is hard because outcomes are often unexpected, disappointing or outright disastrous. In this manner, the research FIRE streams engage continually runs the risk of unanticipated outcomes - good, bad, questionable and other. FIRE students repeat or revise their work to address inconsistencies or gather additional information. FIRE students learn by trying, engaging challenge and trying again.

About The FIRE Program at UMD

The mission of the program is to welcome students to the authentic research mission of the University of Maryland through deep immersion and mentorship in faculty-led research groups. Students become active members of faculty-led FIRE research streams that derive from a broad spectrum of disciplines including the natural, animal and computer sciences and engineering, the social sciences and public health.

Credit Earned in FIRE

FIRE is a 3 semester experience in which General Education credits are earned. Please read more to learn about each of the courses in the sequence and opportunities available to you after you complete you FIRE stream experience.

Peer Mentoring Program

FIRE offers its students the opportunity to develop leadership skills through a Peer Mentoring Program that allows them to stay with FIRE for a second year both continuing research and training a new group of students.

Summer Fellows Program

FIRE students can apply during the spring of their first year to be a part of a 10-week immersive research experience with their chosen FIRE stream during the summer between their first and second years. Students that are selected will be a part of the annual FIRE Summer Fellows Program.

Next Step Assistance

It is our goal that all FIRE students succeed in their transition from the FIRE program to a professional next step. This might include work in a faculty lab, a regional, national or international internship or a research-centric study abroad. We offer students next-step assistance to prepare them to search for these opportunities to come.

Why You Should Join, Who Can Join & Common Questions

We get many questions about the broad benefits of joining FIRE. Additionally, it is common for both students and parents to have questions regarding who can join FIRE and when. Finally, students often want to know how they will pick their FIRE research stream. Please read further for answers to these questions and more.

What Students Have to Say about FIRE

Sarah Curtis would like for you to know "Joining the FIRE program has allowed me to build a network of connections and gain research experience, which I never thought possible at such an early stage in my collegiate career. It has been a truly rewarding experience that I will cherish throughout college and for the future."

Please learn more about what other past and present FIRE students have to say about their experience in FIRE.

Research Opportunities Available to You

We are incredibly proud of the breadth, depth and diversity of the research disciplines and experiences we offer.