2,893 Inspirational Research 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.

Cooperation and conflict in the animal kingdom

Why do some animals sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the group? What drove the evolution of the complex societies of the eusocial insects, where sterile workers altruistically help their queen? How do parents manipulate their offspring into becoming workers? How might we compare the collective decision-making process of a honey bee colony to the ideal democracy? Finally, what happens when cooperation goes awry, and societies face internal conflict? In this project, you will learn about Hamilton's Rule, Kin Selection Theory, and the field of sociobiology to explore the inner workings of complex animal societies, from birds, to ants, to humans.

Entomology

Madeleine
Madeleine

How insects navigate in the environment

How do cockroaches navigate in the environment, particularly when they are most activate at night? One of the ways that cockroaches can detect obstacles or chemicals is via electrical stimulation of the antennae. The antenna hosts a variety of neurons involved in chemical and mechanical sensation which use electricity to send information to the brain, much like humans do. This project will involve performing a light surgery on a cockroach and implanting electrodes so that you can stimulate the sensory system and see how it corresponds to behavior.

Entomology

Christopher
Christopher

Natural and Safe Insect Repellents

While ants play an important role in our ecosystems, they can be a real nuisance when they are uninvited visitors in our home. There are numerous insect repellents out there that are often toxic to both bugs and humans, which we probably shouldn't be using in our homes. However, there are less harmful chemicals that ants dislike which can be used to ward them off. This project would involve researching what chemicals act as safe deterrents out of standard household materials, mixing these together, and conducting an experiment at home to determine which ones work and at which ratios. Students would refine their skills in reading scientific articles, developing hypotheses, designing experiments to test those hypotheses, deriving conclusions using scientific reasoning, and writing up a report in the format of a scientific article. They would also learn about how ants sense and interact with chemicals in the environment and decentralized social organization.

Entomology

Christopher
Christopher

Bee diversity across an urban landscape

Cities contain more than half the world's population, and are rapidly growing. How does wildlife adapt to live alongside humans in an increasingly urbanized landscape? How does urbanization affect the diversity of bee species? Use field entomology techniques to catch bees across a range of habitat types, then learn basic taxonomy and how to identify bees to family, genus, or species level. In this field-based project, you will learn and practice experimental design, hypothesis testing, field techniques, specimen identification, and statistical analysis.

Entomology

Madeleine
Madeleine

Animals in Renaissance art, literature, and culture

In the early modern world, animals were a particular source of fascination. Renaissance thinkers, artists, and scientists grappled with the question of what it meant to be human, and explored the fragile boundary between (hu)man and beast. This anxiety surrounding the animal/human divide manifested in areas as diverse as the English bear gardens, the imaginary beasts on New World maps, and the political metaphors of Italian naturalists. In this project, you will use an animal studies perspective to explore Renaissance humanism and anthropocentrism.

Entomology

Madeleine
Madeleine