Getting Started

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)

Get Started with the First Approaches to Research Course!

In fall 2023 and spring 2024, first- and second-year students can participate in a groundbreaking new course—First Approaches to Research (FA-R)—designed to teach students how to connect to research and creative projects across disciplines, interests and methodologies. Driven by their own curiosities and the search for answers, students will be introduced to the tools needed to launch meaningful undergraduate research careers.

Students will:

  • Connect with world-renowned faculty mentors.
    • This course teaches you how to build professional networks of faculty and staff who can support you during this initial experience and beyond.
  • Create a community of like-minded student researchers.
    • Meet with undergraduate mentors and work with undergraduate researchers and artists.
    • Virtual alumni panels will also provide an opportunity to broaden your network.  
  • Explore questions, curiosities and interests.
    • Form questions, explore problems, and examine your own experiences, thoughts, and observations through writing.
  • Discover campus resources to support faculty-mentored and independent research and creative projects.
    • Learn how to use resources available to you on campus, such as the University Library System, Study Abroad, Career Development, and other centers.
  • Develop the skills needed to conduct meaningful research.
    • Learn professional academic communication, digital literacy, and in-person and virtual networking skills.
  • Create a portfolio to apply for funding and research opportunities throughout the University and in the Pittsburgh community.
    • Students who complete this course will learn the skills they need to apply for formalized research or creative opportunities within the Dietrich School of Arts and Science, including but not limited to First Experiences in Research (FE-R), Archival Scholars Research Awards (ASRA), and Summer Undergraduate Research Awards (SURA), Undergraduate Research Artist and Scholar Residencies, and Directed Research within a department.
    • Learn how to secure academic credit and or payment for research experiences or creative activity outside the Dietrich School, including but not limited to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and other University schools and colleges.


First Experiences in Research

First Experiences in Research is open to all undergraduate students. Please check our Programs and Events page for application instructions in fall 2023.

Through our First Experiences in Research (FE-R) program, Dietrich School students can gain meaningful, hands-on research experience. 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? 

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 for FE-R?

Any Dietrich School 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

How do I start FE-R?

  • Make selections from a catalog of available research projects.
  • Once matched to a research project, interview with an FE-R Mentor 
  • Once approved by FE-R Mentor, 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. 
  • In the spring term, you will begin your mentored research!


"The unique part of [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)

Become an FE-R Faculty Mentor

Dedicated faculty research mentors are the heart of First Experiences in Research. Faculty project submissions for FE-R 2024 are now open.