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Learn more about FIRE's 16 research streams.

A FIRE stream consists of around 40 FIRE students, a full-time FIRE Faculty Leader, FIRE Peer Research Mentors, and FIRE Faculty Collaborators from UMD departments.  Each year, a small number of FIRE streams will end.  This change allows new FIRE streams to be launched in a manner that keeps FIRE continually renewed and research-relevant to the challenges of our times.


2023 FIRE Visualizing Social Justice - includes students of many backgrounds and academic majors.

Understanding FIRE Streams


FIRE streams share similarities and differences; they engage in a variety of disciplines and methods to produce research outcomes. We provide the following definitions to help you better understand where FIRE streams have overlaps and where they differ.

  • Faculty Leader: each FIRE stream is led by a full-time FIRE team member with a PhD in a specific discipline.  FIRE Faculty Leaders lead, educate, and mentor students daily in our dedicated labs.

  • Keywords: these words help describe the disciplines and methods of each FIRE stream.  Please study the keywords for each FIRE stream to get an initial sense of the subject matter of a stream.

  • FIRE Cluster: a group of FIRE streams using related research tools and methodologies.

  • FIRE Cluster - Natural Science: probes the complexities of the physical world around us.  These FIRE streams operate in modern laboratories with specialized equipment that further our understanding of the living world. 


  • FIRE Cluster - Social Science & Humanities: study the broad institutions and functioning of human society and the interpersonal relationships of individuals as members of society.  These FIRE streams further our understanding of people: as individuals, communities, and societies with an eye toward developing a deeper understanding of human values and of the unique ability of the human spirit to express itself.


  • FIRE Cluster - Tech & Applied Science:  uses cutting-edge techniques that involve coding (programming, compiled & scripting languages, high performance, cluster-based, etc), advanced algorithms (machine learning, AI, etc), and/or physical construction and modeling.  These FIRE streams often engage in a broader applied discipline including atmospheric science, particle and quantum physics, applied economics, computational biology, etc.

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FIRE Streams in Operation

FIRE Stream
Faculty Leader
FIRE Cluster
Dr. Cherisse Hall
microbiology, molecular biology, bacteriology, biochemistry, cellular biology
Dr. Lena Johnson
robotics, biomechanics, programming, electronics
Dr. Quira Zeidan
molecular biology, cellular biology, biochemistry, microscopy
Dr. Sara Strey
climate system modeling, programming, data analysis, high-performance computing
Dr. Kristina Kramarczuk
qualitative analysis, data analysis, programming, social science
Dr. Halli Weiner
cellular biology, biochemistry, microscopy, reproduction, conservation biology
Dr. Mary Chey
transgenerational effects, gene silencing, molecular biology, genetics, computational modeling, programming
Dr. Ben Huffman
sustainable development, design thinking, web development, public policy, qualitative analysis
Dr. Jessica O'Hara
microbiology, virology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics
Dr. Catherine Spirito
molecular biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics
Dr. Elizabeth Massey
music history, social power structures, digital humanities, archival research, social justice
Dr. Danielle Niu
biogeochemistry, chromatography, spectroscopy & spectrometry, modeling & simulation, data analysis
Dr. Shabnam Jabeen
quantum computing, machine learning, programming, data analysis
Dr. Shannon Hilton
bioengineering, biotechnology, diagnostics, fabrication, analytical chemistry
Dr. Thanicha Ruangmas
data analysis, programming, environmental science, public policy, economics
Dr. Jaclyn Bruner
data visualization, communication, archival research, social justice
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