The purpose of the Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium is to honor excellent student research, scholarship, and creative activity. The participants are nominated by their faculty sponsors after having participated in independent research that results in the significant synthesis of new knowledge. The research must have been performed under the direct supervision of an Albion College faculty member, or in a College-approved off-campus program.
Dr. Charlie Jacobs from the Biology Department planned and organized the first Albion College Student Research Symposium, which was held on April 20, 1990, and involved seven students making presentations describing their research projects. In 1993, a poster session was added, and by 1995, the number of student presenters had risen to 16. In 1997, the Isaac Endowed Lectureship became associated with the Albion College Student Research Symposium, and the Symposium name was changed to the Elkin Isaac Research Symposium.
By 1999, the Symposium had grown to the point that concurrent sessions were required for 62 platform and poster presentations. 1999 also saw the addition of the Symposium keynote address, which has featured Wade Davis, Stephen Jay Gould, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Salman Rushdie, and Gloria Steinem. In 2000, the Research Symposium was first held on the same day as the College's Honors Convocation.