By the end of their first semester at Lake Forest College, the diverse cohort achieved a 3.78 grade point average and completed an average of seven college-level courses. These and other factors are what led to their invitation to apply to the highly selective program in the first place.
The impressive students will spend three or ten weeks of their summer working with faculty mentors to assist in the research process of a variety of projects from a variety of disciplines. Among those studies: climate change on college campuses, mobile phone banking in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; Obama and the politics of openness and transparency, and more.
“Richter Scholars have a unique level of access to their professors in this program, working side-by-side through these weeks and months to learn first-hand the skills and techniques of genuine research,” said Don Meyer, summer director of the Richter Scholar Program. “Through this program, they are empowered to join the great conversation of scholars and thinkers world-wide, learning how to make use of data and information to make compelling arguments about the human experience and the physical world.”
More than half of the Richters are participating in the three-week option, which was introduced to the program last summer and has popularized through word of mouth.
“This shorter research experience has expanded the pool of faculty mentors with especially more proposals from the humanities,” said Shubhik DebBurman, chair of the Honors Fellows/Richter Scholar Committee. “Some faculty have chosen to create research teams of two to four students, fostering even more collaboration and expanding research possibilities.”
The Richter Scholar Program highlights Lake Forest College’s access to Chicago. In addition to the research opportunities there, Meyer said he is “encouraging our students to take advantage of this wonderful summer weather to really enjoy Chicago and the suburbs. Some of the Richters are working second jobs and have limited free time, but I’ve been delighted to hear about the ways they’re taking the initiative to assemble themselves for social outings.”
New this year, the Richter Scholar experience will culminate with a formal symposia open to campus and the public. For the three-week Richters, the symposia is scheduled for Tuesday, June 3 at noon in Meyer Auditorium; ten-week Richters will present Thursday, July 17 at 1 p.m. in Meyer Auditorium. Some of these presentations will also appear during the Student Symposium next spring.
If past trends serve as any predictor, DebBurman also anticipates that some of these students will eventually be presenting their research at national conferences and becoming published.