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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.

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Neuroscience

How to design a neuroscience research study: a thought experiment?

Learn how to design a neuroscience research study, you will define a 'specific aim' of research. Explore which experimental techniques would allow you to get at that aim. Define the parameters, study population, and paradigm. The goal of this thought experiment is to explore the basics of designing a research experiment but more importantly provide training in how to think as a researcher, how do we ask our questions and how do we go about answering them? The ultimate end product would be writing a research strategy or protocol.

Neuroscience

Daniel
Daniel

The intersection of gender identity and autism spectrum disorder: an exploration of recent literature

An interesting and recently burgeoning discussion in the field of autism spectrum disorder is the high cooccurence of genderqueer identities. We could explore the literature much of it has received a critical reception. Setting aside the cultural controversy of such a topic is important in the pursuit of research. In this project we will review and discuss any relevant research, writing an analytical review of current literature.

Neuroscience

Daniel
Daniel

Optical illusions and other quirks of the visual system

Have you ever wondered how optical illusions work and why sometimes our perception strays from reality? In this project you will explore the neural mechanisms behind several common optical illusions and other oddities we may notice in our visual perception. You will also delve into some critical processes of the visual system such as color and depth perception.

Neuroscience

Ankita
Ankita

Student-Run Clinic

In this project I will help you organize a student-run clinic in your school or university. From a small diabetes screening service (as more and more young people are at risk) to a multidisciplinary group tackling the health issues that are most important in your school and community.

Neuroscience

Ana
Ana

Exploring the Role of Epigenetics in Disease Processes

Epigenetics is an emerging area of research, examining the relationship between one's environment and their gene expression. This project could focus on conducting a review of the role of epigenetics in various pathophysiologies, such as cancer, diabetes or neurological disorders, and how this understanding can better inform treatments.

Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Psychology

Roula
Roula

The relationship between computational and experimental biology

Recent advancements in simulation and A.I programs have made it possible to model complex systems computationally. This has revolutionized how scientists work through projects and search for novel pharmaceutical treatments and therapeutic targets. This project will examine recent advancements in computational biology and how they relate to and support the classic experimental work that is currently being performed.

Biology, Neuroscience, Chemistry

Evan
Evan

Do nervous jitters actually help you do better?

Induce an anxious state in people (make them watch a 5 minute jump scare video) and then have them complete a reaction-time task to see if an aroused internal state effects performance. Compare this group with a control group. (this project could go in many different directions, there are lots of possibilities/variations!)

Music, Neuroscience

Grace
Grace

Brain & Behavior: Exploring Findings from Developmental Affective Neuroscience

Research has only just begun to probe the "final frontier" of science - the brain. Key questions stemming from the burgeoning field of Developmental Affective Neuroscience include: How does early life adversity impact brain development and psychological functioning across the lifespan? How does the brain shape behavior and how does behavior shape the brain? What are key brain areas involved in the processing of emotions and formation of memories? What is the role of epigenetic factors on the brain and subsequent mental health outcomes?

Neuroscience, Psychology, Arts

Hannah
Hannah

Universal Design for Transition

Building on the tenets of Universal Design for Learning, the intentions of the Universal Design for Transition framework help special educators address both the transition and instructional design needs of their students. IDEA 2004 requires that IEP teams include goals designed to support the transition to post-high school activities. Unfortunately, these requirements become a barrier for special education teachers (Scott et al., 2019). To address this challenge, Thoma et al. (2009) proposed Universal Design for Transition (UDT) as a practical solution to ensure students with disabilities receive proper academic instruction and transition planning. However, many special education teachers are not aware of the UDT approach and report that their pre-service programs did not prepare them adequately to address their students' academic and transition needs (Scott et al., 2019). Interview your current teacher, and pervious teachers and report on how they incorporate the Universal Design for Transition into their instruction and engage them about their teacher preparation experiences.

Neuroscience, Quantitative, Linguistics

Regina
Regina

Best Practices for a Healthy Brain!

It is SO important that we as scientists communicate our knowledge to the public in a way that they can understand. Through this project the student could do just that! They could summarize research on ways to promote brain health, and present the findings through a medium of their choice (blog post, paper, podcast episode, youtube video).

Neuroscience, Psychology

Laura
Laura

The cellular components of neurodegeneration

Many people recognize "neurons" as being the all-star cells that allow our brains to function and lead to disease when they degenerate. However, neurons are only one of the many cell types found in the brain—and not the only cells affected in neurodegenerative diseases. Could a comparison of the cellular responses to neurodegeneration help to understand its root causes? How are single-cell sequencing approaches being leveraged to address these questions? How can we distinguish between adaptive and pathological cellular changes? This is another burgeoning area of research that will be of great academic interest for years to come.

Psychiatry, Neuroscience

Jared
Jared

Introduction to Analyzing Statistics

This project could be focused on any larger data set that you want, and we would focus on the beginning steps to learning how to run simple analysis to answer your questions. Large available data sets such as the ABCD data set, have a plethora of data on child to adolescent development.

Neuroscience, Psychology, Statistics

Shannon
Shannon

8 legs are better than 2!

The octopus is one of my favorite animals- not just because they're crazy smart but because they're amazing movers! 70% of neurons in the octopus are located in their arms, which control their movement, the texture of their skin, the color of their camouflage, and each individual sucker. On top of that, they can detect color and taste through their skin! In this project, you'll learn about the motor and chromatophore systems of these amazing creatures along with their unique behaviors for camouflage. Along the way, you'll learn the core principles of how neurons communicate and produce behavior.

Neuroscience, Psychology, AI/ML

Abby
Abby

Sleep & the Commute to School

Does the method of commuting to school (private transit vs public transit) affect how much sleep students get during the school year? This project would entail a literature review of prior research on this topic, research method design, data collection, data analysis, and a final presentation (written or visual).

Neuroscience, Psychology

Maira
Maira

Weird brains and what we know about them

A review article looking at non-traditional model organisms in neuroscience research. A lot of neuroscience research is done using animals like mice, zebrafish, flies, but what can we learn from other animals? Ground squirrels hibernate in the winter, what happens to their brains during these cold, inactive months? Ants have highly complex social systems, how did they evolve these behaviors? Salmon return to the stream they were born in to spawn, where in their brains is the circuit that allows them to navigate with such precision? Pick a few animals and we'll do a literature review on what we know about the neuroscience of that animal, what unique questions we can ask about that animal, and propose a few experiments.

Biology, Neuroscience

Katy
Katy

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

How do neural networks capture artistic style?

Generative adversarial networks (GANs) learn to generate output data that mimic the training data. For example, if you train a GAN on paintings by Van Gogh, it will learn to produce new images that look like the paintings it was trained on. I want to understand this phenomena by investigating the following questions: through reviewing previous research and direct experiment, what characteristics of data are GANs capable of learning? In other words, are there some data distributions, say the distribution of jazz solos by Miles Davis, that are harder for a GAN to imitate than others? What are the relevant features of the data that the GAN learns?

Neuroscience, AI/ML

Andrew
Andrew

Robot Ed Sheeran: Making an AI Composer

Current state-of-the-art ML for music (see: OpenAI, Google Magenta) is bad at learning long-form structure. I believe this is because their approach of swallowing and vomiting MIDI files does not reflect the vast amount of prior information we have as humans: we have ears that pick up on the subtle ways that pitches interact, and we're hard-wired to understand linguistic structures. Let's build a better AI with these inductive biases and generate some funk!

Neuroscience, Math, Linguistics, AI/ML

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

The Future of Gene Editing

CRISPR, a relatively new genomic editing tool, can change life around us. From creating disease-resistant crops and animals to editing the DNA in human cells, CRISPR has the power to help or hurt the world around us. In this project, you will explore the benefits and risks of using CRISPR technology. Your research will culminate in an article or blog posts informing the public about the pros/cons and ethical considerations of using gene editing in science.

Biology, Neuroscience

Samantha
Samantha

How do stressful life experiences impact the developing brain?

Major stress in early life can change the structure and function of the brain. But how? When does this happen? What factors are protective? Students will conduct a literature review to summarize scientific literature results demonstrating whether stressful life experiences impact brain development in kids and teens. This could result in a poster or paper.

Neuroscience, Psychology

Carina
Carina