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.

What triggers phytoplankton blooms off the Southern California coast?

In this project, you will learn what environmental conditions stimulate microscopic algae (aka phytoplankton) blooms off the coast of Southern California. Specifically, you will search through publicly available datasets of environmental physical, chemical, and biological data (such as temperature, nutrient concentrations, algae abundance) collected by scientists and use statistics to identify factors affecting phytoplankton blooms. Data could be presented and discussed in a conference poster or journal publication.

Environmental Science

Sydney
Sydney

Communications Platform for Wildlife Conservation News

Wildlife policy is a constant cause of conflict between society's differing environmental values. This conflict can lead to polar approaches in wildlife management, suboptimal results for conservation, and often publicly accepted misinformation. The student will address this issue by creating a communications platform for sharing accurate, unbiased and scientific information on high profile wildlife topics of mutual interest. Based on a target audience of students and young professionals, the appropriate medium (blog, website, social media, podcast, etc.) will be designed and specific content curated for this demographic. This content, to also be independently researched and maintained, may include materials generated by the student and credible secondary news articles. Experience in establishing such a tool will provide working knowledge in current events and authoritative sources of information, along with skills gained in strategic and effective communications in science journalism.

Environmental Science

Joseph
Joseph

Literature Review of Conservation Needs of Individual Species

A literature review would allow a student to gain experience in acquiring relevant peer-reviewed scientific articles. The individual would choose a species of their choice and explore different aspects of this species life history and ecology to determine its conservation status. I would work with this student to solidify a specific project goal (habitat use/needs, the role that climate change is playing in this species population projections, behavioral studies and how they impact conservation management). The goal of this research project would be to choose a topic related to conservation and explore existing information. I would then like the student to write a review on what is currently known about this topic, what needs to be expanded in order to learn more about this species and what the best ways to do that are. The student will gain experience in critical thinking by applying the knowledge they have gained reading existing literature to determine what more can be done.

Biology, Environmental Science, Math

Alexandra
Alexandra

Dolphins and Sonar: How do sounds in the ocean affect dolphins?

Marine mammals such as whales and dolphins use echolocation and are sensitive to noises in the ocean environment. Human-made noise by ships and technological instruments may affect their ability hear and ecolocate. What are the consequences of human noise pollution towards marine mammals such as dolphins and whales? How can it affect the way they live and interact with each other?

Biology, Environmental Science

Madelin
Madelin

Sustainable Meal Alternatives

Analyze a local food system within your community, like your high school, your religious community, or even a local eating establishment. Measure and analyze the potential sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the ingredients in a specific dish. Design an alternative to this dish using your understanding of the social and environmental components of eating.

Biology, Environmental Science, Arts, History

Alyson
Alyson

Friend or foe? Local human-wildlife interactions

As human populations grow and increasingly overlap with wildlife, there are many potential interactions. This project could investigate the social and/or environmental aspects of human-wildlife interactions based on the student's local neighborhood, town, region, or country.

Environmental Science

Erin
Erin

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

Health Benefits of Renewable Energy Transition

Review your state's energy portfolio. Assess various health benefits if they were to transition to cleaner energy sources.

Public Health, Environmental Science

Jayson
Jayson

Learn about the underlying biology of a specific topic.

The Freshman in my course How Does Your Brain Work? learn how different parts of their brain interact to create their experience of the world around them. Students would select a topic in Biology they are curious to learn more about. For example, how does our body recognize novel viruses or what happens in the brain when someone is addicted to a drug or how does cancer spread throughout the human body. This type of project would involve learning how to navigate scholarly work online, how to explore online research databases, and how to communicate scientific concepts. Possible final projects include a podcast telling the story of what goes on in the body or a review paper of important research in the field. This type of project would be great for a student that wants to tackle a complex biological topic and get a deeper understanding than what is presented in a college introductory biology textbook.

Environmental Science

Lupita
Lupita

Will cockroaches really outlive us all?

Cockroaches (Blattodea) are known for their resilience. Based on known conservation concerns - climate change, habitat fragmentation, etc. - just how resilient will cockroaches be?

Biology, Environmental Science

Jillian
Jillian

The Ecology of Viruses

How do our actions with the Earth affect viral dynamics? Can global warming really make pandemics more common? Designed for students with interdisciplinary interests, we will read scientific articles from peer-reviewed journals and discuss how changes with the Earth might affect a virus of your choice. You will then develop a research question you want to investigate and write and original research proposal. This project can be tailored for all students regardless of prior experience with science or research. Students with interests of applying to public or private agencies for fellowships/scholarships are welcomed, as well.

Environmental Science

Isabel
Isabel

Successful Businesses and Neurotic Leaders

This project could include research of case studies on the most successful businesses in the world and their leaders. Are there personality similarities among the world's most successful leaders? Are successful leaders more likely to demonstrate neurotic traits compared to the general population? Once again, I am open to different ideas around this subject and any way of presenting this information.

Environmental Science

Kailie
Kailie

African rainfall and climate – responses to a warming world?

The various African monsoons are the primary water source for over 1 billion people, and it is therefore crucial to understand how rainfall might change due to projected anthropogenic warming. Evidence suggests that a host of environmental variables (ocean temperatures, wind directions / speeds, etc.) control continental precipitation on timescales ranging from the 20th century to millions of years.

Environmental Science

Bryce
Bryce

Documenting past society through a single object

For this project, the student would visit a local museum and choose one object that is on display (e.g. a tool, art piece). Beginning with the museum archives, the student will document basic facts on the object: date, location of origin, description of object (size, color, shape, basic function), and how the object came to the museum. Using the local library and online sources, the student would carry out a deeper history on the object to understand its cultural context and life history. The student will situate this object within the broader society and culture at the time of its use. As a final outcome of the project, the student will provide their new research to the museum to keep in the museum's archives or to add to the museum display. Furthermore, the student could publish their results in a school or local paper or journal. This project could also be expanded into a larger project on the site or environment of the object's origin or on other associated objects to further reconstruct the culture and society in question.

Environmental Science, Arts, Languages

Amanda
Amanda

Do protected areas work? Exploring long term species abundence before and after the implementation of a protected area.

Using fish data from the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment Program, calculate biodiversity in an area of the Caribbean where a marine protected area was established. Does biodiversity increase after the implementation of the protected area?

Environmental Science, Social Science, Quantitative

Samantha
Samantha

Fashion with a purpose-- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

This project would help bring awareness to climate change through fashion design. You can create fashionable items out of trash, discarded items, recyclable items, repurposed items, or anything second hand.

Fashion, Environmental Science

Thien
Thien

Learning to Write a Policy Memo

For this project, I will teach students how to write a policy memo arguing for or against a specific policy implementation. We will learn how to properly address and format a professional document that will be sent to lawmakers. In addition, we will do research on various Supreme Court cases to understand our nation's history. Students will learn how to properly write a professional memo.

Environmental Science, Psychology, History, Literature and Languages

Katie
Katie

Are mangrove restoration efforts effective? Measuring the long-term impacts of restoration efforts.

The re-planting of mangrove habitats have been a popular tool in habitat restoration. However, emerging research shows that many of these restoration efforts don't last. Using satellite imagery, measure the growth (or decline) of a site where a large-scale mangrove restoration operation occurred.

Environmental Science, Social Science, Quantitative

Samantha
Samantha

The Other CO2 Problem: The Ocean’s Role in Climate Change

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have absorbed approximately 30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. While this process removes CO2 from the atmosphere and has slowed the rise in global temperatures, the ocean’s absorption of CO2 has led to another problem - ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is a phenomenon in which the absorption of CO2 causes ocean chemistry to change and become more acidic. What are the acid/base chemical principles behind this process? How is ocean acidification impacting marine ecosystems and food sources on which millions of people rely? In what places is ocean acidification posing the largest threats?

Environmental Science

Mary Margaret
Mary Margaret

How to create a sustainable business

Review criteria for Environmental, Social, and Governance. Look at successful businesses with high scores and see how that could apply to new company.

Public Health, Environmental Science

Jayson
Jayson