It all starts with a question. 

A question like, Can playing help mitigate stress? How do we make cleaner water to fight worldwide water shortages? How hack-able is that Alexa in your house? 

Become the architect of your learning. As a Randolph-Macon student, you are encouraged to delve deeper, pose questions, and work to discover their solutions. You are encouraged to follow your own educational path; to be both student and researcher. 

We believe hands-on, self-driven learning through research is an essential part of your educational journey – and it shouldn’t be just for graduate students. That’s why Randolph-Macon undergrads complete research projects through senior capstones, summer fellowships, and other unique coursework.

of Research
In and Beyond the Classroom

A man and woman comparing pandemic music culture across centuries in a park.

“I’ve loved digging these stories out of the back pages of newspapers and amplifying voices that were buried under everything else. The research has been a really fascinating look at the similarities between what we’re going through now and what people experienced over a hundred years ago.”

Grace Bakeman ’23 (“As Catchy as the Flu”: Gauging the Impact of the 1918 and the 2020 Pandemics on Concert Culture in the United States)


Undergraduate research is a direct, hands-on approach to learning that inspires students and helps to develop important skills necessary for successful careers and graduate school study. Through original research, students develop a deeper understanding of the scientific process and master skills in:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Research methods
  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication skills


The Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program was established in 1996 through a generous gift made by Ben ’64 and Peggy Schapiro to encourage Randolph-Macon students to pursue original research as undergraduates. SURF offers RMC students from all disciplines the unique opportunity to conduct nine weeks of full-time research, during the summer months, under the careful guidance of a faculty mentor. Students receive a stipend and free housing and spend the summer delving deeply into an original research question. 

RMC computer science faculty member working with students on robotics project


Hands-on study is at the heart of many RMC courses where students work together to answer an original research question under the guidance of faculty mentors. Through collaborative coursework, students write their own proposals and conduct group research throughout the duration of the course. 


Randolph-Macon students, from a variety of disciplines, contribute to their field through original research during independent study or capstone projects. These projects let students conduct research for credit while working directly with a faculty mentor to refine questions, create a research plan and often, to present their research as well. 

Each spring, the Randolph-Macon Student Symposium of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity showcases this work. 

Student shows another student a poster presentation

buzzworthy Inquiry at work

News Story categories: Biology Student Life

RMC Students Research Freshwater Biodiversity During NSF-Funded Trip to Kenya

This summer, three RMC students took part in an NSF-funded project to index species of fishes and macroinvertebrates in Kenyan rivers.

Student researchers pose with equipment used to collect species of fishes and macroinvertebrates in Kenya
News Story categories: Faculty International Studies Political Science

Summer Research on Election Reform Takes Student and Professor to Paraguay

A change to Paraguay’s electoral system made for a near-perfect experiment for Eleanor Swager ’25 and Dr. Brian Turner.

Eleanor Swager ‘25 stands in the Recoleta in Asuncion, Paraguay
News Story categories: Academics

SURF Symposium Showcases Wide Range of Undergraduate Research

RMC held its 25th annual SURF Symposium, where students had the opportunity to share findings from their research in oral and poster presentations.

Daniel Sugano ‘24 presents his research in the Copley Science Center