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Student Research

Richter Scholar Summer Research Program

The Richter Scholar Summer Research Program provides students with the opportunity to conduct independent, individual research with Lake Forest College faculty with the goals of enhancing the intellectual lives of our students and encouraging them to consider careers in research and teaching. 

Academically excellent students with an interest in research are invited to apply for the Richter Scholar Summer Research program early in the spring of their first year. During the summer following their first year, they work one-on-one with a faculty member, conducting independent research in one of a wide variety of fields. As the Richter Scholars live and work together and participate in a weekly colloquium, they become a community of peers, providing encouragement and support for one another’s research endeavors. The result is a group of scholars motivated to continue their intellectual achievement in the future. 

To be eligible to receive an invitation to apply for the Richter Program, First-Year students must have completed at least three one-credit courses at Lake Forest College during the previous fall semester, including successful completion of a FIYS course, and achieved a minimum 3.3 GPA. The GPA is calculated with all grades received at the College, even those “under” a P grade on the transcript. 

Program Options 

Lake Forest College is pleased to offer two distinct versions of the Richter Scholar Program (RSCH 181 or RSCH 182). The two programs deliberately differ in length and scope to provide the most flexibility to our faculty and students so that we attract our most talented faculty scholars to serve as mentors and our most intellectually motivated First-Year students to apply and be selected for this program.

During both options, students do not pay tuition, and residence and dining halls are available at no cost.  More details about specific dates and application steps can be found on my.lakeforest.edu

RSCH 181: Independent Research Experience I (20-25 students)

This option allows selected students to engage in a 3.5-week research project, beginning immediately after the College’s commencement and coinciding with the first summer session.

For RSCH 181 (Independent Research Experience I), faculty will offer a targeted research experience that will be focused and intense, with special emphasis on short-term outcomes. This is ideal for projects that are “ready to go,” where students can begin researching on day one. Faculty mentoring in this short-term research experience will rely on frequent and direct contact with students. This experience may include off-campus visits to libraries and museums, fieldwork, archival research, content analysis, and any other activity that can be realistically worked into a 3.5-week period. Students will not necessarily end this research program with a finished product, but they will engage in a rich, substantive experience and will make substantial progress. Some projects may accommodate multiple students resulting in a research community that may resemble a “mini” course – but one that focuses on the research experience. 

The RSCH 181 students will also participate in the weekly colloquium, engage in some social activities with the full Richter group, and present their research findings at a common forum at the end of the term. 

Students will receive 0.5 course credit (RSCH181), evaluated on a Pass-Fail basis, at the successful completion of the research period. This credit will count towards overall graduation credits but will not satisfy any major requirements. Although this course carries the FFC Experiential Learning (FFC-EL) tag, this course alone does not fulfill the FFC-EL requirement because it is only 0.5 credits. This credit can be combined with other fractional FFC-EL credits and will satisfy the FFC-EL requirement when the student accumulates 1.0 FFC-EL credits. See the FFC-EL (see 1g) guidelines for more details.  

This independent research project will involve 75 hours of student work across the 3.5 week interval. The recommendation for the distribution of these contact hours is as follows: a minimum 15 hours of direct faculty contact/supervision, 55 hours of independent research work, and five hours of group coordination by the Summer Program faculty advisor. 

RSCH 182: Independent Research Experience II (10-15 students) 

This option allows selected students to engage in an 8-week research project where the research project start date is one week after the beginning of the first summer session. 

For RSCH 182 (Independent Research Experience II), long-term projects will start more slowly and develop over time. The longer research period is essential to the nature of the work conducted in these sustained research experiences. Accordingly, these projects will also require more independent work than in RSCH 181. 

The RSCH 182 students will also participate in the weekly colloquium, engage in some social activities with the full Richter group, and present their research findings at a common forum at the end of the term. 

Students will receive 1.0 course credit (RSCH 182), evaluated on a Pass-Fail basis, at the successful completion of the research period. This 1.0 credit will count towards overall graduation credits and will fully satisfy the FFC Experiential Learning requirement (once the written reflection is submitted to the advisor), but it will not satisfy any major requirements. 

This session involves 150 hours of work for credit, and 170 hours of work for pay, for a total of 320 hours of student work. The 150 hours devoted to one-course credit comprise a minimum of 25 hours of direct faculty contact/supervision, 100 hours of independent research work, and 25 hours of group coordination by the Summer Program faculty advisor. The student is compensated by a stipend for the remaining 170 hours, composed of independent research and direct faculty contact/supervision.