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.

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

Understanding Epigenetic inheritance

Was Lamarck right!? Can we pass adaptive traits we've developed in our lifetime to our offspring? The answer is complicated, but by searching the literature, you'll learn what's fact, fiction, and waiting to be uncovered.

Neuroscience

Ethan
Ethan

Does color enhance memory?

Essentially testing to see if different colors elicit a different kind of memory response. This will be done by designing a research experiment and completing a research project. In this project, you will design a research project that can be completed at home, gather data, and present that data as either a scientific poster or talk. You will learn about the scientific process, how to construct appropriate figures for your data, and how to communicate your results in a formal presentation.

Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology

Aya
Aya

Integrating Neuroethics and Public Policy

The more we understand about the brain and human behavior, the more we need to amend and adjust laws and policies that may do more harm than good. What are some current advances in neuroethics that can directly alter current laws and policies in play?

Neuroscience, Psychology, Arts, History

Jasmine
Jasmine

Exploring the Axon Initial Segment in Brain Disorders

Neurons are brain cells that have three main parts, the somatodendritic compartment, the axon initial segment, and the axon-axon terminal. The axon initial segment is instrumental for the neuronal function. However recent evidence suggests that the axon initial segment is disrupted in brain disorders like epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar, Autism spectrum disorders, multiple sclerosis, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Biology, Neuroscience

Merci
Merci

SDWA

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Neuroscience, Social Science

SW
SW

Investigating the Link between Diet and the Brain

In this project, students would work to read current literature to find out how dietary components can impact the health of the brain, including how gut microbiota transmit signals to the brain, how fats and proteins found in food can work on the brain itself, and what diets are helpful/hurtful for brain health.

Biology, Neuroscience

Jensen
Jensen

Evolution of body and brain in simulated Braitenberg vehicles

In this hypothetical project, we explore the process of evolution as it unfolds in a simulated environment, using Braitenberg vehicles (simple robots) as our "model organism". We discover how incredibly complex behaviors can arise from simple connections in the brain. We can ask questions like, What is the ideal body size in this environment? How many neurons is enough? Or even, can robots be superstitious? In this integrative project you would learn a bit from a variety of fields, such as psychology, neuroscience, physics, and modeling, and you will learn how to put it all together. Some coding experience is required, but no other special background is needed. Outcomes could include a web-based viewer to showcase the robots (or their brains) in action, or even a research paper addressing one of your questions!

Neuroscience, Statistics, Physics

Chuck
Chuck

The Future of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Neuroradiology

From automated detection of intracranial hemorrhage to prognostication of stroke patient outcome, machine learning- and artificial intelligence-based tools are increasingly prevalent in neuroradiology. The question remains - how will these tools affect the future of radiology? In this project, the student will conduct a literature review recent advances in AI/ML and make their conjectures about how these tools will impact radiology workflows, patient care, and the future of the field.

Cognitive, Neuroscience, Comp Sci, AI/ML

Emily
Emily

Sex Chromosome Biology

As you may have learned in your biology class, sex is inherited by sex chromosomes, with females having XX chromosomes and males having XY. However, did you know that some individuals are born XXY? Or even XYY? Or that some animals, like chickens and fruit flies, have a different system for determining sex? Moreso, you may have learned about X chromosome inactivation, the process by which organisms with multiple X chromosomes randomly inactivate all but one X chromosome in each of their cells. But how do cells determine which X chromosome(s) to inactivate? And what if the some or all of the X chromosome doesn't become inactivated? If any of these questions interest or excite you, this may be the project for you!

Biology, Biotech, Neuroscience

Emily
Emily

Health Psychology - Coping with Stress

What is psychological stress? How do people deal with stress, especially in the midst of a pandemic such as COVID-19? This project would focus on gathering information and data to write a research paper/review on stress levels, coping strategies, and the psychological (and physiological) implications of stress. Stress can be defined as acute and chronic, each of which acts on our bodies and minds in different ways. Furthermore, not all stress is "bad" stress. In fact, a hot part of this research is focused on resiliency in the face of stress. How people respond given their previous experiences and psychological state has been extensively studied, but is always worth an updated exploration and review!

Biology, Neuroscience

Alexandra
Alexandra

Program the famous Breakout game

Hone your programming and animation skills by building the Breakout game where the goal is to use a horizontal movable paddle to bounce a ball upward and destroy a layer of bricks, maximizing your score. I'll introduce you to animation and objects in Python, and you'll have the opportunity to work on other features such as creating a score system and enabling a multiplayer mode. By the end of the program, you can share the game with your friends and family!

Biology, AI/ML, Neuroscience

Manuka
Manuka

Can stress change how your microbiome works?

Stress is known to cause depression and other mood disorders, but can it also change how your gut responds to its environment! Can mindfulness help shape your gut microbes? Will diet changes reduce the impact of stress? How can your external environment shape your internal chemistry?

Neuroscience

Courtney
Courtney

Perception, Art, and the Human Brain

Interested to learn how we perceive the world? How our eyes captures the images and our human brain decodes it? Are you interested in learning how our brain functions? Do you want to learn how the brain evolves from childhood to adulthood? Or how does music, dance, art, or other creative art form effect the brain? In the project, I would like to explore the anatomy and the function of each of the brain's component. I want to describe the activity associated with each structure, how we perceive the world, and the understanding of brain diseases to better understand how to cure them. We will also explore how different creative art forms impact human brain and how it can be used to slow down neurodegenerative diseases.

Biotech, Neuroscience

BIlal
BIlal

Analyzing and Understanding Moisture Detection

Human tactile senses are rich and dynamic. By combining information about changes in temperature, chemical environment, and vibration and indentation stimuli, we can construct highly detailed and precise neural representations of objects. Our sense of discriminative touch is based in neurological responses to vibration and indentation stimuli. In our skin we have a wide array of different fiber types, each tuned to a specific stimulus type and intensity, that mediate our sense of touch. While many insects have hygroreceptors that allow them to perceive changes in humidity and moisture in their environment, without these receptors, humans are left to use cognitive processing to discern changes in moisture and wet from dry. Moisture requires sensory integration in the central nervous system and is an emergent sensation that occurs from the integration of inputs rather than a direct signal from the periphery (i.e. touch or heat). Moisture detection proves essential for sensing the world: texture discrimination, object grasping, or gait changes on slippery surfaces. The aim of this project is to understand the way our bodies interact with the physical world through touch. We will learn of the basics of neuroscience and a foundational understanding of our sense of touch. We will investigate how different neurons respond to different stimuli, how this code is transduced, and what properties of physics make this possible. Following this, we will work through the scientific method, analytic statistics, and experimental design. From there, you will write your own project proposal and emulate a laboratory to conduct home experiments to build a qualitative and quantitative understanding of how we detect varying moisture levels.

Neuroscience

Trevor
Trevor

Code of Life

In this project, we will explore how basic chemicals come together to create life with all its complexity. We will explore how DNA encodes for proteins, how proteins provide functionality that in turn generate complexity of life. We will examine how organisms perform complex tasks such as communicating, thinking, constantly evolving to survive, or gain a novel trait. We will address all these topics and link it back to their origin, the DNA. The topics include are Central Dogma of Biology, evolution, homeostasis, and embryology, and biodiversity.

Biotech, Neuroscience

BIlal
BIlal

Devising a Novel Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease Research Proposal (Paper or Presentation)

Students are tasked with presenting a novel treatment idea (preventative or intervening) for Alzheimer’s Disease. Through our conversations and an extensive literature search, students should design a novel treatment paradigm that can be centered around modifiable lifestyle factors or actions, pharmaceuticals, and/or other new treatment ideas (be creative!). Think about mechanisms by which this treatment may prevent or improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. The student's creative idea will be presented in either an oral presentation via PowerPoint, Canva, Keynote, or other preferred platform, or via a written document (research proposal). Just as is done in scientific research presentations and grant proposals, the student's project will start with an introduction to the problem, a hypothesis, proposed methods to test the therapy, and expected results and conclusions. This final project will develop and hone the ability to find a gap in the known scientific literature, think creatively to design an independent research idea, and present the idea clearly and effectively.

Biology, Neuroscience

Katie
Katie

The role of sleep in mental health and neurological disorders

In this project you will explore the complicated relationship between sleep disorders and a mental health or neurological disorder of your choosing, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, you will write a scientific review paper which synthesizes the relevant literature and key findings about this following topics: 1. The co-morbidity of sleep disorders and your chosen neurological/mental health disorder. 2. How sleep issues may cause or worsen symptoms of your chosen neurological/mental health disorder. 3. How symptoms of your chosen neurological/mental health disorder may cause or worsen sleep disturbances. 4. Whether the available scientific data favors a reductionist (i.e. one disorder precedes and causes the other) or emergent (i.e. the two disorders cannot be separated and are two aspects of a single disorder) model of the co-morbidity of your chosen neurological/mental health disorder and sleep disorders. Prerequisites: 1. This project is only available to 10th graders and above. 2. Strong high school background in biology and/or psychology Additional Information: If the student desires, they can also complement this literature review by performing a meta-analysis to provide evidence for their stance in part 4. However, students wishing to do so should have some prior coding experience in either MATLAB or Python.

Neuroscience, AI/ML

Ryan
Ryan

The Biology of Aging

Aging is the number one risk factor for a variety of diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and loss of hearing/sight. We are only now beginning to truly understand the process of aging and have even started to uncover ways that we could stop, or potentially reverse, the effects of aging. What are the hallmarks/signs of aging? How do researchers study 'aging'? How does human lifespan and aging compare to the rest of the animal kingdom? Is it possible to stop or reverse the effects of aging? We could explore these questions or brainstorm others you might have about the biology of aging.

Biology, Biotech, Neuroscience

Emily
Emily

How aging changes the immune system

Aging changes a lot of things is the body including your immune system. The immune system is important for protecting us against pathogens. How does aging change our responses to different pathogens? This project would investigate how pathogens differently (or similarly) impact the immune response of young and old individuals.

Biology, Neuroscience, Chemistry

Colwyn
Colwyn