First Experiences in Research

Research Mentorship as Early as Your First Year

Through our First Experiences in Research (FE-R) program, Dietrich School students can gain meaningful, hands-on research experience in their very first year. And we’re not just talking about white coat, test tube, science lab research. Research projects with Pitt’s world-renowned faculty are available across all disciplines. How about analyzing camera angles in Breaking Bad? Or creating snow fences alongside an acclaimed studio artist? Or interviewing actual lighting designers on Broadway? Or dispelling stereotypes about refugees? 

Anthony Sciulli

“[Before I started at Pitt] I believed research was reserved for the elite, the geniuses, who spent time locked in a dark, mysterious lab like those on CSI—certainly not for an inexperienced freshman. But… I was wrong."

—Anthony Sciulli (Rehabilitation Science)

Read about Anthony Sciulli's experiences in FE-R.

About FE-R Program

Undergraduates conduct research as early as the spring term of their first year through First Experiences in Research (FE-R). In the fall term, you'll be paired with an expert faculty member. In the spring term, you'll conduct hands-on research with that faculty member. Projects come from across all disciplines and areas of interest -- including biology, communications, economics, musics, neurology, political science, studio arts, and theatre arts, to name a few. 

Students enroll in the spring term ARTSC 0120: First Experiences in Research course to learn the fundamental of research, and showcase their work in the campus-wide Celebration of Research poster session at the end of the term. Students conduct five or 10 hours per week to earn one or two academic credits.

Who is eligible?

Any Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences undergraduate who is interested in:

  • joining a community of scholars
  • building a relationship with a faculty member
  • conducting research or creative activity outside of a prospective major

The Process

  • In the fall term, attend an FE-R Information Session. Dates, time, and locations will be announced each summer at
  • Interview with an FE-R Mentor 
  • Once selected, enroll in a section of ARTSC 0120: First Experiences in Research for the spring term. If not selected, group sessions are available to discuss personalized research options. 




Dig Deeper: Continuing Experiences in Research

Undergraduates explore their FE-R research project more in-depth through Continuing Experiences in Research (CE-R). By continuing work with their FE-R faculty research mentor for a second consecutive semester, students strengthen research skills, earn additional credits, and delve deeper into research. The accompanying CE-R course introduces students to writing conference, article, and independent research proposals. Note: Because the CE-R research projects require basic research skills, participation is limited to those students who complete the FE-R program.

"The unique part of [Continuing Experiences in Research] is that it acts as the transition between being a research assistant and becoming an independent researcher. My professor, Dr. Andrew Lotz, connected me with multiple resources that supported my own individual research endeavors. He helped me to craft my first grant proposal, which was successful accepted into the Brackenridge Fellowship program."

- Reena Naik (Economics and Political Science)

Read about Reena Naik’s experience in CE-R. 

Become a Faculty Mentor

Dedicated faculty research mentors are essential to FE-R. The Office of Undergraduate Research solicits faculty research mentors for FE-R each summer through the early fall term. If you are interested in submitting your own research project to FE-R, please call 412-383-5960.

Learn more about becoming a faculty mentor.