Year Zero Program

A PFLR Pilot Program (2017-18)


For more than 15 years, the President’s Future Leaders in Research (PFLR) program has provided selected LSU students with faculty-led authentic research experiences in laboratories or in the field.  PFLR students typically remain with their LSU faculty mentor for the duration of their undergraduate career and receive a stipend of $1550 per year for four years.  We seek Honors Board input on a program that has these goals in support of LSU and in support of Honors:

  • To recruit from targeted high schools of excellence and especially from a cohort of students who typically leave the state
  • To enhance student academic success and learning gains that accompany a positive early research experience
  • To stimulate more honors theses via completion of an initial HNRS course in high school
  • To give incoming students more early preparation for research
  • To enhance the competitiveness of faculty as they apply for grants and these honors students as they apply for awards and scholarships
  • To better engage with the community around LSU


The new “Year Zero” Pilot Program seeks to provide an early start for high school students to obtain research experience during their senior year in high school.  The program consists of an introduction to research course open to many students followed by a much smaller number of PFLR year zero awards.

Research Course: We hope to use the HNRS rubric for a one credit or a three credit introduction to research course to be offered as dual enrollment in the junior year.  We will start with three initial high-performing schools who have indicated an interest in offering such a course. Because the course will eventually need to align with the high school curricula at any one of potentially dozens of schools, the maximum flexibility (such as a one credit or three credit version) would be desirable.  To maximize overall positive impact for LSU, to enhance diversity, and because talent in research and creativity does not always directly correlate to traditional academics, we hope to offer as many students as possible access to this new dual enrollment course.  Themes to be part of the introduction to research course will be drawn from the examples below and other formative concepts.

  • Understand academic research and how science, humanities, and other areas of research are conducted in an academic setting
  • Learn about research in a variety of non-STEM and STEM disciplines
  • An introduction to research terminology
  • Awareness of the ethical principles of research, ethical challenges and approval processes, and why they are needed
  • Introduction to the peer-review, publishing, and competitive proposals processes
  • Prestigious awards available to undergraduates, and how research success helps
  • Introduction to the criteria for merit in research
  • Understand rigor, and standards of excellence in documenting results
  • Intro to the process of transferring research results to products of value for society
  • Obtain certification in an area of their choosing, for instance laboratory safety
  • Introduction to opportunities available to undergrad researchers throughout their career at LSU
  • Highlight the basic expectations and requirements of the undergraduate researcher when conducting research with a faculty mentor in a professional environment
  • Identify the components of a literature review process
  • Critically analyze published research

Year Zero awards:  These awards seek to enhance the PFLR program with an additional year.  This will enable the high school students to initiate a premium research experience a year earlier, enhancing their potential to obtain high quality results and professional development during their career at LSU and beyond.  Initially, research experiences will be offered with mentors in LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Science, and the College of Engineering.

In order to qualify for the Year Zero Pilot Program, high performing high school juniors will have taken the research course and be identified and nominated by a mentor at a participating high school during the spring semester.  Selected students will be matched with an LSU faculty mentor, who will work closely with the student and the high school mentor throughout the student’s senior year in high school.  Upon completion of the Year Zero Program, successful students will automatically enter into the PFLR program when they enroll at LSU, where they will continue their research pursuits under the guidance of the established faculty mentor.