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.
- Comp Sci
- Creative Writing
- Environmental Science
- Game Design
- Literature and Languages
- Organizational Leadership
- Public Health
- Social Science
- Sports Analytics
Does Your Community Consume Probiotics?
Microorganisms, such as bacteria, play an essential role in human health and wellbeing. One community of microbes that is essential to our health is our gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that call our gastrointestinal tract home. These microorganisms perform essential functions that help up stay happy and healthy. Loss of our health gut bacteria can have profound impacts on health and is associated with many disorders from irritable bowel syndrome to depression. Therefore, maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome is crucial to human health. One way to promote a healthy gut microbiome is through the consumption of probiotics, or live microorganisms that are meant to have health benefits when consumed. Probiotics can be found in the form of supplements or in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and Kombucha. However, many people are not aware of the benefits of probiotics or event that they consume them. To determine how aware your community is about the benefits and sources of probiotics available and subsequently provide educational materials, this project involves building, conducting, and sharing the results from a survey assessing community awareness of probiotics. Specifically, you would spend time learning about the gut microbiome and probiotics, build a survey to share with your community, perform data analysis with the results from the survey, and share your findings with your community (e.g. create an infographic or short article to publish in your school newspaper).
How Does Aristotle Inform Decision-Making at the End of Life in the U.S. Healthcare System?
All medical decisions are grounded in moral values, and clinicians ought to have an ethical framework to guide their decision-making process. This project will apply principles of Aristotle's seminal work, Nicomachean Ethics, to topics of end-of-life decision-making such as artificial nutrition, code status changes, and brain death.
Biology, Arts, Healthcare, Business
The Environment and the Brain
How does the environment affect the brain? If you eat a lot of sugar does that affect your brain differently? What about if you exercise regularly or live in a polluted environment, how does your brain respond to that? The brain is very closely connected to the rest of your body, and your environment and here's the opportunity to explore exactly how. With this project you will have the opportunity to research the brain's connection to an environmental factor of your choice. This will include diving into the literature and writing an in depth review on the topic you choose.
Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology
Inflammation and the Brain
The immune system and brain are closely intertwined and communicate with each other under normal conditions and in disease. In this project, you'll read and understand scientific papers about the interplay between the immune system and the brain, why a healthy immune system is important for optimal brain function and development, and what happens to the relationship between these two complex organs when things go wrong in disease. You can write up your findings in a scientific review article, blog post, or any other form of media that interests you the most, whether that be a video, podcast, or anything else!
Bacterial Fight Club: Harnessing Microbial Interactions for Drug Discovery
Have you ever wondered where the medicines we take come from? Over 60% of clinical drugs come from a biological source such as bacteria. In the environment, bacteria are constantly competing with each other and secrete small molecules that kill their neighbors. These small molecules are then discovered by scientists like us and are used as anti-cancer or antibacterial drugs. In this project you'll dive into understanding bacterial warfare and the process that goes into drug discovery--from the environment, to the laboratory, and to the hospital. This project can culminate in a review article or oral presentation that could be submitted to a journal or conference.
Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science
Racial Disparities in Alzheimer's diagnosis.
The fight against Alzheimer's definitely goes beyond looking at cells under the microscope, it begins with early diagnosis! So how do race and ethnicity affect Alzheimer's? In this project, we'll be taking a closer look at the literature to understand how Alzheimer's diagnosis differs across social groups, and what can be done to fix it. This project can take form as a scientific review paper or even an informational video!
The Human Genome Project and Diversity
The human genome project remains one of the most worldwide collaborative efforts ever. Currently, the draft sequence for the human genome is on build 38, and considerable efforts have been made to sequence a diverse sample of individual genomes for a true representation of human genomics. The first draft build was generated mainly from anonymous individuals in Buffalo, New York due to technical limitations, but it could be argued that this first draft was not representative of all human genomes. Worldwide sequencing efforts have shown an abundance of variation across genomes, and much of this data is publicly available. Recently, a pangenome draft was published build from 47 individuals across the planet. However, many are unaware of how to access or use this data. This project would teach the student about the human genome project from both historical and practical perspectives, as well as allow the student to explore potential future directions of human genome sequencing. (image by Pangenome project)
Assessing Health Risks for Astronauts
This project allows you to choose an area of physiology or health to focus on in regards to astronauts in microgravity (or potentially on the Moon or Mars). Potential areas include but aren't limited to: brain/nervous system, cardiorespiratory system, psychology, radiation, motor behavior, and the skeletal system. You will write a comprehensive review paper on this area and how astronauts and spaceflight participants are affected as well as review possible countermeasures to mitigate and treat problems associated with them.
The Future of CAR-T Cell Therapies
In this project, you will learn about how novel Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T immunotherapy is translated from laboratory research setting to clinics. Despite its strong efficacy in treating cancer, there are many challenges in commercializing and delivering the therapies to patients safely. Through extensive research of relevant literature and clinical trial data, you will write a scientific review paper about the following topics: - CAR-T structure and mechanism of actions – How does it really work? - Treatment-related toxicities of the therapies – What must be done to ensure patient safety? - Pharmaceutical development of CAR-T: Challenges in fitting CAR-T development process into conventional drug discovery and development paradigm - Limitations of CAR-T therapies in targeting solid tumor - The future of CAR-T – What innovations are required to unlock the full potential of CAR-T? Additional information: The primary goals for this project are to: (1) provide students with scientific research skills, including critical analysis of primary literature; (2) foster interdisciplinary thinking in translational science; and (3) help students to master knowledge critical to sustaining a career in pharmaceutical development.
Gene Delivery Applications
As we enter a new era of technology, there are some major shifts occuring in the space of clinical medicine and biotechnology. The biggest one we currently see is the shift to more personalized medicine. This is a field of engineering, biology and clinical medicine that focuses on ways to leverage existing technologies for personalized therapies. The most prominent example of this is the use of CRISPR to cure and deliver therapies to certain patients. Our project would entail a large data analysis of the epidemeology of genetic diseases, the cost they pose to patients, their families and the US government and a proposal for ways genetically engineering therapies could pose as solutions. I would like to see a student use existing software to design specific genetically engineering systems that could be tested in a labratory setting.
Biology, Engineering, Chemistry, Medicine
I Feel it in My Body: The Relationship Between Mental and Physical Health
Mental and physical health are intimately connected. For example, during childhood, anxiety may manifest primarily as physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches. Mental illnesses increase your risk of developing physical illness in the future, and vice versa. In this project, we will make use of a publicly available, large longitudinal dataset (e.g., AddHealth) to explore the relationship between physical and mental health. You will learn how to perform a literature review on a topic, develop a testable research question and hypothesis, evaluate your hypothesis using statistics, explore your data using appropriate visualizations, interpret your findings, and write up your results in a scientific paper for others to learn about.
Biology, Public Health, Statistics
Writing an Op-Ed
An Op-Ed is a personal article that serves as powerful tool for advocating, persuading, and bringing attention to an issue. When done well, it can be the spark that a topic needs to gain national or international attention. In this project, you'll write your own persuasive op-ed on a topic of your choice! You'll gain skills of observing the social climate, researching the topic, and writing creatively and authentically.
Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Medicine
Literature review or research paper on an environmental topic of your choice!
Say you were interested in how climate change impacts amphibians in the Northeast US. We could then work together to review and summarize the major findings in the scientific literature, paying attention to scientific writing skills.
Biology, Psychology, History, Literature and Languages, Environmental Science
Neural Mechanisms of Prosocial Behavior
Prosocial behaviors can be modeled in other species, including rats. One example is a rat releasing another rat from a restrainer (a source of stress). This project would aim to examine which regions of the brain and how they are involved in creating type of behavior. This would involve looking at identifying brain regions that are associated with rewarding behaviors, as well as social interactions.
Biology, Neuroscience, Medicine
Sleep improvements in a new model of Alzheimer's disease
My research is focused on targeting the endocannabinoid system to improve sleep phenotypes in a model of AD. I have created a new genetically altered mouse that we hope will show improved sleep phenotypes. We use a sleep system in our lab to measure sleep and this data is available for analysis. After I have monitored sleep in these animals we will work together to analyze the sleep data and generate sleep traces, total hourly sleep amounts and assess quality of sleep in these new mice. This experiment will introduce you to data analysis, making figures and presenting data. You will also gain insights into sleep behavior in mice.
How does a scientist science?
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a scientist? How scientist conduct research? What a day in the life a scientist looks like? With this project you will have the opportunity to interview one, two or even three (!) scientist. This project will require you to find scientist that interest you, initiate contact, come up with interview questions, and write a full article based on the transcripts from the interviews. At the end you will not only know how a scientist sciences, but also have met amazing scientist along the way!
Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology
How does death help regeneration?
While many consider regeneration a largely proliferative event, it is often paired with waves of cell death that are vital to the process. Programmed cell death is also an important component of development in many species. However, the role of these controlled death events has not been fully elucidated, and the existing data has not been synthesized to provide a clearer picture. There are lots of unanswered questions that can be potentially explored through detailed literature reviews.
Pandemic Impact on Screen Time
In this project, you could explore how the COVID pandemic has impacted screen time usage among different age groups. You could conduct surveys to gather data and present your findings in a podcast, a poster, a video, or a written report.
Biology, Languages, Chemistry, Public Health
Case Study Reporting on Rare Diseases
Case reports and case series or rather case study research are descriptive studies that are prepared for illustrating novel, unusual, or atypical features identified in patients in medical practice, and they potentially generate new research questions. They are empirical inquiries or investigations of a patient or a group of patients in a natural, real world clinical setting. Case study research is a method that focuses on the contextual analysis of a number of events or conditions and their relationships. Case research is a beneficial tool and learning experience in graduate medical education and among novice researchers. Rare disease patients have cases that extremely unique to the medical field due to frequency, hidden states, and lack of knowledge by medical & research professionals. By creating a case report for a certain kind of rare disease, we could help with the diagnosis and the mitigation of rare diseases, which heavily occur in young children at high mortality rates.
Biology, Physics, Comp Sci
Writing a Research Project Grant Proposal
If you want to go into research, writing an NIH-format research grant proposal is a paramount skill that takes lots of practice to perfect. Writing a grant will involve describing the comprehensive aims of a research project and convincing the reader that the project is worth funding
Psychiatry, Biology, Neuroscience, Literature and Languages