Research Experience for Undergraduates
Program Overview: Why Apply?
The Fralin Research Experience for Undergraduates (FREU) is an educational program open to aspiring scientists from all academic backgrounds. FREU prepares students to pursue highly competitive STEM careers, offering hands-on training that extends far beyond the traditional classroom learning experience. This program encompasses a wide range of research opportunities including both paid and for-credit positions.
FREU students will work closely with teams of academic peers and experienced scholars.
Make a real impact
FREU students participate in hands-on research activities in each of our institute's Leading Laboratories—work that’s fundamentally transforming the way we understand the world. At the Fralin Life Sciences Institute of Virginia Tech, our projects help guide the creation of resilient cities, inform effective policy responses to public health crises, and uncover key factors that drive industrial innovation.
Diversify your expertise
Our students work in teams, closely supported by graduate research assistants and supervised by faculty. Your colleagues and mentors will be thought leaders in a wide variety of fields: statistics, biology, social, behavioral and economic sciences, computer science, data analytics, epidemiology, simulation science, information technology policy, and infrastructural resilience.
Form professional connections
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute's dual locations in the National Capital Region and Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus put our students in contact with a number of leading decision-makers in science, government and industry. Our "alumni" have established their careers at a variety of high-profile institutions including the Department of Defense, Department of Health, Bloomberg, and Amazon.
About the Institute: Our Leading Laboratories
FREU students will perform hands-on research in one or more of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute's Leading Laboratories. Each of these unique research programs works to support the institute's overarching mission to predict, explain, and visualize the behavior of massively interacting systems.
Before applying to the FREU program, students are encouraged to consider how their research interests will fit in with one of these major divisions:
- The Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory aims to speed up the discovery of new treatments for chronic diseases using a combination of clinical trials and advanced biological simulations. Students whose interests include nutrition, healthcare, and the emerging field of precision medicine will enjoy taking part in NIMML's research.
- The Biosystems Research Laboratories work to expand our fundamental understanding of human health, from the causes of cancer to the science of our internal clocks. These labs offer a wide variety of hands-on research opportunities for students who prefer one-on-one mentorship in a small group setting.
Program Structure, Opportunities, and Resources
At cutting-edge scientific facilities in both the National Capital Region and Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus, FREU students will be trained using the latest research technology.
- Internships available in the fall, spring, and summer semesters
- Team research with dedicated graduate students, postdocs and research faculty
- Opportunities to present findings in technical reports and scientific publications
- Meaningful research that addresses major challenges in science, social policy, industry, and public service
- An introduction to essential tools for scientific and statistical computing: Hadoop, R, Python, GIS, and other software tools as needed for projects
- Access to a state-of-the-art parallel cluster with high-performance interconnect in the Fralin Life Sciences Institute of Virginia Tech’s High-Performance Computing Facility
- Engaging with practitioners and researchers through the Fralin Life Sciences Institute’s Visiting Scholar program, which includes mathematicians, engineers, economists, statisticians, and other social science researchers with diverse federal and private sector experience
How to Apply
To apply for the REU program, you must complete the following steps:
- Meet all the application requirements listed below
- Complete our online application and demographic survey.
- Email us a copy of your resume and cover letter
- If you have any questions about the application process, please contact us.
Participants in the FREU program will be expected to meet the following requirements:
- Be enrolled as a current student at Virginia Tech
- Demonstrate an academic background in some area of social sciences, engineering, life sciences, or physical sciences
- Display necessary qualities for working both independently and within a diverse team structure: high motivation, good communication skills, strong work ethic