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Field Research

Your independent field research project is the central focus of the ACM Costa Rica program. Throughout the semester you’ll work with a local research advisor who has expertise in an area related to your interests.

During the first month of the program, you’ll be based in San José and will work with your advisor to develop a research proposal and plan your field work. You and your classmates will then relocate to different communities around Costa Rica, depending on the demands of your research—if you’re investigating the economic impact of sustainable fishing, it’s time to move to the beach!

In the past, students have focused on the use of organic pesticides on coffee farms, assessed adolescent knowledge of tobacco, investigated how tourism influences artists, and analyzed interactions between humans and monkeys in shared spaces.

Explore the projects and abstracts that past students have completed across different fields and academic disciplines, from environmental studies to economics to literary criticism.

“I started studying Spanish when I heard about the ACM Costa Rica spring program, motivated by the opportunity to conduct independent research in my field. In Costa Rica, I was able to combine my passion for coffee, environmental studies, and economics to create a unique and enriching field experience, with steady guidance from my advisor and the ACM curriculum.”

Conor Sexton, Lawrence University, environmental studies major

“My field research has allowed me to really know the physical therapy world. My project also combined the fields of psychology, physical therapy, and public health, which allowed me to understand the healthcare system better and how it functions.”

Fernando Figuero, Lake Forest College, biology major

“I don't know of any other study abroad program that my school offers where you can do hands-on research under the close supervision of an adviser and receive help from so many other people. The paper I wrote was already accepted for a presentation at an international conference and has high chances of being published in a scientific journal, which I believe is a great early beginning for my career as a researcher.”

Raluca Ombrica, Knox College, Spanish and French major

Historical Context

Biologia Tropical cover

For a deeper understanding of the historical impact of the ACM Field Research program in Costa Rica, check out this special feature from the International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, published in 2014 in recognition of the ACM’s 50th anniversary in Costa Rica. It includes research summaries from the past 50 years, as well as a lot of contributions from program alumni who went on to pursue research in higher education since their time in Costa Rica.


Student abstracts from the last five years to help you find projects relevant to your interests: