FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

How is BioFIRE different from FIRE? BioFIRE is part of FIRE, the First-Year Innovation and Research Experience. Students in BioFIRE enroll in the same 3-part research course sequence as other students in the FIRE program. Additionally, they are part of a living and learning community based in Easton Hall. While it is true that all BioFIRE students are automatically part of FIRE, the reverse is not true. Because of the limited capacity of the BioFIRE program, not all students in FIRE who are interested in the biological and chemical sciences can be accommodated in the living and learning community. BioFIRE participants must apply specifically to the BioFIRE program to be considered.

What are the benefits of being part of BioFIRE? There are many benefits: community of support, early access to research, the ability to develop close mentored relationships with faculty members, fellowships for summer research, peer mentors, tutors in first-year science subjects, and the ability to participate in a variety of professional and personal enrichment programs. 

What are some BioFIRE traditions? The BioFIRE program has several traditions that build community and social support. Students say the most memorable of these is the Fall Retreat, which for the past few years has taken place at Camp Round Meadow in the Catoctin  Mountain National Park. The Fall Retreat occurs during the second weekend in September, and gives BioFIRE students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to get to know each other while enjoying outdoor activities in a beautiful natural setting.

What is the application process for BioFIRE? You can indicate your interested in being considered for BioFIRE by completing a brief online preference form. All students who have been invited to FIRE and are majoring (or intend to major) in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Biochemistry are eligible. We also welcome self-nominations, so even if you have not yet been offered a spot in FIRE, you can request an invitation here. Then be sure to complete the BioFIRE preference form.

How are participants selected? We aim to recruit a diverse and enthusiastic group of students who share an interest in the chemical and life sciences. We are looking for students who are ready to work hard and participate fully in all of the things that BioFIRE has to offer. Participants are selected on the basis of their commitment to these goals. In addition, priority will be given to students who have not been offered admission to other living and learning programs (e.g., Honors, College Park Scholars) and those who have not yet received college-level credit for introductory biology courses. 

Can I be in BioFIRE and another living and learning program (e.g., College Park Scholars, Carillon Communities)? No, a student can only participate in one living and learning program. If you are invited to multiple living and learning programs, you will need to choose between them.

Why do I need to register for a BioFIRE section of UNIV 100? UNIV 100 is a one-credit seminar-style course that is required for biology, chemistry, and biochemistry majors. It is recommended for many other majors. For all students, UNIV 100 helps ease the transition to college and gives students valuable insight into UMD opportunities and expectations. In addition, the BioFIRE UNIV sections serve as an orientation to the BioFIRE program and help us get to know each student better so that we can help them reach their academic, personal and professional goals.

When do I choose my FIRE research stream? The stream matching process happens in the fall semester, as part of the curriculum of FIRE 120 (the first course in the three-course FIRE sequence). In FIRE 120, you will have the opportunity to learn more about each stream and talk with faculty and students who are currently affiliated with each stream. Near the end of the fall semester, during pre-registration for the spring, you will be able to register for the FIRE course associated with your chosen stream. Capacity in each stream is limited to 40 students, so you should register for the class as soon as your registration time permits and have alternate selections in mind in case your first choice fills up before your registration time. If this happens, you can add yourself to the wait list for your preferred section in case a spot opens up later in the pre-registration process.

Am I restricted to a particular FIRE stream? No, you are free to choose from among all current FIRE streams, which vary widely in focus. For more information on current streams, visit the description of research streams on the FIRE website.

Does the FIRE stream I join have to relate to the biological and chemical sciences? No, you can join any stream that interests you. Current FIRE streams span the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering. You can read more about what each stream is doing on the FIRE website. While you are free to choose any stream, in our experience students who intend to pursue careers in the biological and chemical sciences are most satisfied with their experience when they select streams that align with these interests. 

Will I meet students of other majors, or will I be surrounded by science students in the dorm and in all my classes? You assuredly will meet students of all majors, both in the dorm and in your classes. The University also has hundreds of student organizations that can help you pursue your other passions, spanning every interest area imaginable. For more information on student organizations, visit the Student Organization Resource Center.

How are summer research fellowship awardees selected? The BioFIRE program selects several students each summer to receive a $3000 summer research fellowship. This allows students to pursue their FIRE research during the summer following their freshman year. Awardees are selected based on exemplary achievement in their spring semester FIRE research course and their demonstrated commitment to the BioFIRE community.

How can I maintain my involvement with BioFIRE after my first three semesters? There are many ways to contribute to the BioFIRE community after your first few semesters. We recruit upper-class BioFIRE students to serve as tutors and peer mentors for first-year BioFIRE students. You can also continue with your research stream as a FIRE peer mentor, helping the incoming students learn research techniques and collaborating with your stream's faculty leaders on advanced research projects.