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Science Outside of the Classroom: The Richter Experience

McKinley Scheppler
Lake Forest College
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045

Lake Forest College has been slowly developing a thriving science department that continuously gives science majors the opportunity to apply their skills from the classroom to other opportunities. One of these opportunities is the Richter program. The Richter program is research program that is only available to freshman students at Lake Forest College that have a [3.4] GPA. An invitation is given to any students that have met the GPA requirements and if they accept the invitation, they go through an interview process that not only pairs the student with a professor to do research with, but it also condenses the list of contestants for the Richter program. The students can either work for four weeks or ten weeks and at the end of their period, they present their research in a symposium in front of parents, professors, and peers. 

Through the Richter process, students are able to apply scientific knowledge from their classes to a research program, while learning new skills and being mentored by phenomenal professors at the college. Jessica Day is a student at Lake Forest College who participated in the Richter program. Jessica participated in the ten-week program and conducted research in Dr. Kirk’s lab. Dr. Kirk directs a lab that does research on the assembly of the telomerase enzyme in Asperigils nidulans by transforming a genetically manipulated plasmid and observing the resulting colonies that grow. Dr. Kirk’s research has future implications to targeting therapies for cancer patients. Through the Richter process, Jessica Day explained, she “had the opportunity to continue to work with Dr. Kirk in her lab after the Richter program had ended,” and she hopes to use the knowledge that she learned to help her “get an internship or do research outside Lake Forest College”. 

The Richter program allows students to realize a love for research, such as Jessica Day with   molecular biology research. Part of the program is that students go to the University of Chicago to learn about graduate programs. It introduces many students to graduate school options and theapplication process for PhD programs in the future. 

For some students, the Richter process also allows for refinement of already known skills, such as presentation skills. For Richter scholar Mathieu Norcross, who worked in the Menke lab studying ant communities along an urban gradient, the Richter program allowed him the “opportunity to perform both lab and field work, as well as practice on presenting research.” This is an important skill to have as a college student and as someone who wants to continue to do research in the future. The Richter program not only challenges students, but it also teaches the Richters how to present research, enriches their science experience, and allows them to partake in a community that supports them through their college experience and beyond. This opportunity is not a normal college experience, and the students and professors do their best to create an experience that becomes a foundation for students to grow and build upon.  


Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.

Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.