Kean University’s NJCSTM Launches Research First Initiative

First-year STEM students undertake immersive scientific research in advanced fields of science.

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Union, N.J. – The New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Math (NJCSTM) at Kean University is transforming the way STEM is taught at the college level.  Undergraduates at NJCSTM work alongside faculty research scientists in some of the most advanced fields of science as part of the newly launched Research First Initiative (RFI).

The RFI offers freshmen honors students the opportunity to choose a research track, join a faculty-led research team and conduct authentic experimental research as part of their STEM education.  Research tracks range from cancer biology, drug discovery, bioinformatics, astrophysics and more.  RFI students have the option to experience research for one or two semesters or to conduct research throughout their entire academic career at Kean.  Participants graduate with a Bachelor of Science or a Master’s degree in Science or Math as well as valuable research experience.

“Students at NJCSTM gain the scientific and technical knowledge to tackle some of the world’s most complex problems, from global warming to cancer, Third World hunger to disappearing habitats,” said Michael J. Tocci, Ph.D., associate dean of research.  “It’s our belief that the best science education — one that leads to the next generation of scientific discoverers and educators, and one that makes graduates most attractive to employers — is one that teaches through doing and contributing to authentic research.”

Designed to attract and retain students in STEM fields, the RFI offers Kean’s diverse student population, the training and skills that will allow them to enter graduate school or the job market with real-world experience, published research and confidence. The program is open to qualified NJCSTM and College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences undergraduates, including Education majors.  

“The RFI allows students to identify as scientists and utilize scientific concepts in real-time, real-world laboratories,” added Tocci.  “Small group and individual training and faculty mentorship builds confidence from the outset of the program.”

The Institute for Life Sciences Entrepreneurship (ILSE) a research integrator and biotech company incubator located at the NJCSTM, is partnering with Kean on the RFI to help provide students with an immersive research experience and selective internship opportunities.

NJCSTM has a graduation rate of more than 90 percent.  Nationwide, the STEM job market is growing and provides numerous challenging career choices as well as sustainable, high paying employment for graduates.   

For more information on the NJCSTM, visit