Polypilot product mascot

Introducing PolyPilot:

Our AI-Powered Mentorship Program

Start your trial today

Learn More

2,893 Inspirational Passion Project Ideas

Turn inspirations into your passion project.

This collection of project ideas, shared by Polygence mentors, is meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

People working on laptops
Filter by subject

Education Materials:

Create education materials to convert the information learned to a product that can be shared with others to pass on the knowledge.

Biology, Neuroscience

Stephen
Stephen

Identifying molecular targets of small molecules

Small molecules can be used to modulate different proteins and pathways within the cell. While some small molecules have known molecular targets (proteins, lipids, etc.) that they bind to, others act via an unknown mechanism. You will first identify a small molecule that kills cells but that does so via an unknown mechanism. You will then use the Broad's Dependency Map to examine the lethality of the molecule in various genetic knockout backgrounds and compare this with co-dependencies of genetic knockouts with each other to identify potential targets of the small molecule. Lastly, you will use this information to hypothesize the mechanism by which the molecule kills cells and assess its potential translation as a cancer drug.

Biology, Cancer

Logan
Logan

Harm Reduction in College Settings

How can we better utilize harm reduction principles in the collegiate setting to reduce the harms associated with drug use? We can explore programs that currently exist and assess how to scale up effective programs

Psychology, Social Science

Nina
Nina

Network Modeling

In this project, students will learn about different types of neural networks and what problems motivated their creation from a historical perspective. Students will then select a network model to train to perform a task using a publicly available dataset. For example, students could train a convolutional neural network to categorize images in the CIFAR-10 dataset. Depending on familiarity with python, students will have the option of building their own model or using a publicly available one.

Biology, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Math

Dante
Dante

How can machine learning leverage multiple views of the same scene, with noise and sensor failures?

Sometimes, we add additional sensors to systems to make our predictions more accurate (for example, multiple views of a driver, to estimate whether they are alert). But, sometimes these views become blocked, or sensors temporarily fail. How can we use machine learning to work around these issues in a way that allows for consistently-available predictions?

Music, AI/ML

Ross
Ross

Sex and Concussion

Males and females experience concussions in different manners. For example, females tend to have more symptoms. Creating an infographic explaining these differences be highly beneficial for managing the expectations of the patients and medical practitioners.

Psychology, Statistics

Eric
Eric

High School Health Independence

Adolescents often have difficulty managing medical problems as they transition from pediatric to adult care. In this project, we will work together to help improve high school students' understanding of their role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Biology, Ethics, Public Health, Medicine

Margaret
Margaret

Simulated phototaxis

Light is bad news for larvae: It puts them at risk of desiccation and increases their chance of predation. As a result, larvae move away from light, down light gradients from brighter areas to darker areas in some probabilistic way. The underlying computation is unknown, but by modeling this dynamic and comparing simulated paths to actual paths, it may be possible to tease out details of how a larva computes whether it is more beneficial to turn or keep going straight when faced with an increase or decrease of light intensity.

Neuroscience, Physics

Paul
Paul

Connecting Protein Function to Disease Progression

I have studied many different proteins that have so many different functions. With this project you will be able to learn how specific proteins are related to different diseases. Using published peer-reviewed articles, you can write a research paper detailing its function and what is known and the things that are unknown and that still need to be discovered.

Biology, Cancer, Chemistry

Dominique
Dominique

Patient Voices

The student will identify several diseases of interest, study their biological mechanisms and current research advancements, and interview patients or caregivers facing the condition. The student can choose which medium they wish to publish or present the work, conveying a scientific yet humanistic patient-focused narrative.

Neuroscience

Alicia
Alicia

How can we help farmers adapt to climate change?

A project focused on the policy, structural, and technological changes that could help farmers prepare for climate change. This could involve a nutrition, gender, or racial justice focus, and could focus on a specific area or type of producer. Based on your interest this project could look at fisherman, smallholder farmers, urban farms, large food producers, or sustainable aquaculture/kelp producers.

History, Languages, Environmental Science, Social Science, Nutrition

Claire
Claire

Did the COVID-19 stay at home orders affect air quality in your city?

Learn about the air quality monitoring that happens in your city and analyze if the stay at home orders affected seasonal trends in your city. In addition, you can learn more about different types of air pollution and what sources are linked to each.

Environmental Science

Jo
Jo

Methods, Meta Analysis or Review Paper

Most of the fields related to Evolution and Ecology currently undergoing rapid advancements as more and more technology is brought to bear in conducting research. A student can gain valuable scientific research and writing experience, as well as a possible publication by doing an in-depth dive into a particular method or concept currently important in the Evolution and Ecology fields. Their research on the most up to date methods/ ideas would then be written up into a methods or review paper that covers the background and history leading up to the particular innovation, it's place in the current research landscape and the expected future contributions or importance of the innovation to the field. A student could also take advantage of previously conducted analyses, by conducting a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis uses standardized, quantitative methods to re-analyze previous research or data to extract new conclusions (and hopefully to be able to formally compare the methods/ analytical techniques used in those previous studies). The results would be written into a manuscript that could then be submitted for publication, if desired.

Biotech, Environmental Science

David
David

Fighting for Our Future: How Environmental Activists Shaped America

This research paper dives into the history of environmental justice movements in the United States to uncover how activists have shaped or transformed public policy.

Social Science, Public Health

Emily
Emily

Why do some children do better in school than others?

Often, we answer this question by thinking about the skills children come to school with. But what if schools have simply been designed to serve some students better than others? In this project, we’ll do a deep-dive into early education literature, and think through how this relates to structural inequity and children’s early language experiences. This would be an awesome review paper for a student journal.

Psychology, Cognitive

Monica
Monica

Sleep on it: An in depth look at the current sleep field

Sleep is an essential part of all of our lives. However the biochemical (or protein) changes that occur in the brain during sleep and after sleep loss remain relatively unknown. In this project I could see you and me investigating where the current sleep field is at and writing a blog post or review about it. As sleep is relatively broad we can focus the project as much as you like or keep it broad. A possible broad question is how does sleep effect the brain? Possible focused questions are, does sleep effect male and female brains differently? Is sleep effect on the brain different with age? What are dreams made of? or anything else you can think of.

Biotech, Biology, Neuroscience, Chemistry

Sean
Sean

Sensory Overload and Mental Health

The aim of this project will be a complete literature review of the current evidence regarding sensory information of social media apps and the effects it has on mental health. This project will require you to draft a literature review and you will need access to literature sources. The final product will be a complete publishable journal review paper that explains the relationship between social media usage and mental health and disorders.

Neuroscience

JoColl
JoColl

China's Rise in the Global Order

Interested in exploring the complexities behind China's miraculous growth? Choose an area of focus within the context of China's rise; some ideas include: exploring the drivers of domestic and foreign policy; the transition of China's economy; policies and impacts of foreign direct investment; and the relationship between policy and the motivations and ideology of the Chinese Communist Party.

Economics

Wren
Wren

The Effects of COVID-19 on teacher motivation

Education is facing extreme levels of teacher burnout and resignations. COVID-19 has added various obstacles to teaching and learning such as transitioning to virtual schooling, an increase in mental health concerns, trauma, and economic disparities. Few studies have examined the lived experience of educators addressing these added obstacles and challenges. Together we can approach this topic through a survey or interviews (or both!) to better understand teachers' lived experiences working with students in the COVID-19 era.

Psychology, Social Science

Margaret
Margaret

Analysis of Immune Cell Types that Exist in Human Cancers

Our immune system has many different players (cell types) and they all have different functions and work together to keep the body safe. When something foreign enters the body, like a virus or even cancer mutations, the immune system gets activated and different cell types start to travel to detect the foreign entity. In cancerous tumors, many different immune cell types are found inside the tumor. It is currently a hot area of research to understand what role the different cell types are playing in the interaction with cancer; some combinations of cell types may be protective for the individual, and some combinations may put the breaks on the anti-tumor immune response. A potential project could involve analyzing data of immune cell types in tumors and looking for any patterns that make sense given what is known about each immune cell types in the scientific literature.

Biology, Cancer, AI/ML

Eric
Eric