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Research First Initiative

Research First Initiative

RFI is a research-mentoring program designed to train undergraduate students and improve learning through research in the STEM fields.

What is the Research First Initiative (RFI)?

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The RFI is an innovative elective curriculum that allows undergraduate students to engage in authentic scientific research under the mentorship of a faculty research scientist. Enrollment in the RFI is open to qualified students from the NJ Center for Science, Technology & Mathematics (NJCSTM) and the College of Natural & Applied Health Sciences (CNAHS), including the School of Environmental & Sustainability Sciences (SESS).
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The program is designed to promote student interest in scientific research and encourage students to pursue careers in STEM. Students enrolled in the RFI become part of a faculty member’s research team working on real world problems alongside their peers. In so doing, students experience the thrill of discovery and problem solving in science not through standard classroom lectures but by actively applying the fundamental scientific principles found in textbooks.
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The ability of students to successfully conduct authentic scientific research builds individual confidence and identity. RFI students gain valuable work experience and the possibility of presenting their findings at scientific symposia or publishing in a scientific journal. Throughout their undergraduate research experience, RFI participants develop and perfect vital career skills in Critical Thinking, Translational Science, Quantitative Literacy, Information & Technology Literacy, and Communication Literacy. Students who complete the RFI requirements will be awarded either an RFI or RFI Honors designation upon graduation.

What are the Admission Criteria?

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OVERALL GPA OF 3.0, WITH A 3.25 GPA IN SCIENCE & MATHEMATICS

  • Proficiency in Mathematics
  • AP Science & Math courses or High School research experience desirable

ENROLLMENT IN RFI RESEARCH STREAMS (STME 2903 & STME 3903) & INDEPENDENT RESEARCH OPTIONS (STME 4901, 4902 & 4903) IS BY PETITION.

  • Students petitioning to enroll in an RFI research stream must interview with the Faculty Stream Leader, obtain approval of their advisor and / or the RFI Admissions Committee
  • CNAHS students must submit the CNAHS Student Approval Form signed by their advisor and executive director
  • Exceptions subject to Instructor’s & Dean’s approval

PREREQUISITES FOR ADVANCED RFI RESEARCH STREAMS FOR NON-STME MAJORS (CNAHS)

  • High School Advanced Placement course(s) in field related to RFI research stream or research experience. i.e.,Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Sciences, Computer Sciences or Mathematics (Calculus)
  • Science club, NJCSTM Group Summer Scholars Research Program (GSSRP), Research camp or HS/College science project

PRE-REQUISITE UNDERGRADUATE COURSES MAY BE REQUIRED FOR ENTRY INTO ADVANCED RESEARCH STREAMS SUCH AS CHEMISTRY, BIOINFORMATICS OR ASTROPHYSICS. FACULTY MENTORS DETERMINE PRE-REQUISITE COURSE(S) FOR THEIR RESEARCH STREAM.

  • i.e., Organic Chemistry 1, Java Programming, Calculus & Differential Equations
  • Exceptions subject to Instructor’s & Dean’s approval

RFI Tracks

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Those students interested in conducting authentic scientific research may elect to pursue either (i) the basic RFI Certificate Track or (ii) the RFI Honors Track. Students should select their RFI track, in conjunction with their advisor, upon entry into their junior year. Upon completion of the track’s requirements the selected RFI designation will be awarded to students at graduation. NJSTME students are required to take the minimal RFI track in order to graduate. Students from other colleges at Kean University may participate in the RFI with approval of their advisor and the RFI Admissions Committee.

Minimal Requirements


STME 1903 Research Methods

GE 2024 Research & Technology

RFI Certificate
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STME 1903 Research Methods

GE 2024 Research & Technology

STME 2903 Research Experience

STME 3903 Advanced Research Experience

Poster Presentation at Kean Research Days

RFI Honors Certificate


STME 1903 Research Methods

GE 2024 Research & Technology

STME 2903 Research Experience

STME 3903 Advanced Research Experience

STME 4901, 4902 or 4903 Independent Research (4-6 credits)

Presentation at Kean Research Days & Research Summary Paper

Research Stream Topics (for 2018)

RFI Research Tracks

The ultimate goal of the RFI is to graduate students that are well trained, experienced researchers, who can successfully compete for STEM jobs or post graduate degree programs.