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.

People working on laptops
Filter by subject

Is reality an illusion?

For this project, we will delve into the mechanisms behind sensory perception. Everything we do in our lives is guided by our ability to sense the environment around us and respond accordingly. You might be surprised to find out that what we see, hear, and feel is constructed in our brain, prone to error, and is not as "real" as you might think (have you ever seen an optical illusion?). This project can be approached from many different perspectives including neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. Together, we will investigate what is known about how we perceive the world around us and how those perceptions can be skewed or distorted.

Neuroscience

Desiree
Desiree

Investigating the theatrical economy of Early Modern London

Background: Theater blossomed in Early Modern London, leading to many of the plays and production techniques that are most famous today. Networks of actors, writers, producers, patrons, and craftspeople collaborated to build a new industry around an established medium. What made this period and city so unique? How were these economic forces reflected in the plays themselves? Questions like these guide academics, who tend to use literature as a tool to understand broader cultural and historical themes. Process: After solidifying your background knowledge, it will be important to narrow your focus to a particular aspect of this period's drama, whether that is a specific play, a theater, or even a production company. Looking for sources in academic journals, literary texts, and primary sources like historical documents will lead you to unexpected connections and a growing clarity about your specific argument. Finally, understanding the broader critical context of how this period has been discussed will allow you to position your argument to make it more unique and effective. Knowledge and skills: Over the course of this project, you will become familiar with the most common skills for humanities research: finding and synthesizing sources, situating your argument in its critical context, digital archival work, close reading, outlining, and explaining the relevance of your results. Outcomes: Literary analysis tends to fit best in essay form, but there are lots of supplemental ways that you can display your findings. Trendy fields like the Digital Humanities and New Theater Studies have placed a great emphasis on websites and even creative writing as a way to enhance an academic argument. We'll review some examples of what's being done currently and look a tools you can use to share your work online in an interactive form.

Arts, History, Languages, Social Science

Henry
Henry

How virtual is virtual reality?

Virtual reality uses an amazingly simple principle - matching the movements of your head or hands with movements on a screen - to trick your brain and do an impressive job convincing you that a digital scene is real. So why is your brain so easily tricked by virtual reality? And how can we use this to better understand how the brain works? In this project, you will explore the science behind vision and cognition to better understand the scientific basis of technologies such as virtual reality and explore how scientists are using virtual reality to better understand how the brain works.

Math

Kevin
Kevin

Stepping into a Scientist White Coat

Have you ever wanted to be a real-life scientist, but you don’t have your very own lab? 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

Iris
Iris

Sickness behavior: How our immune system can change the way we feel

Have you ever had a cold and felt just awful? Have you ever gotten a vaccine and felt tired and sluggish afterwards? This is called 'sickness behavior', and it is actually caused by our immune systems, not the cold or the vaccine! In this project, we can learn more about how the immune system interacts with the brain and nervous system to cause sickness behavior. We can read up on the current scientific literature that has been published, compile our findings, and synthesize the knowledge into a comprehensive literature review. For this literature review, you have the opportunity to take all of the existing knowledge about sickness behavior, and write it up so it is easy to find and understand in one paper. You also have the opportunity to use your creativity and artistic skills to create original figures and diagrams which summarize the big concepts covered in the literature review.

Public Health

Danielle
Danielle

Perspectives on the Future Applications and Challenges of mRNA Vaccines

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the implementation of mRNA vaccine technology, which has proven to be a global success in preventing hospitalizations and severe disease. However, many challenges remain including their efficacy in maintaining robust long-term immunity, mitigation and early detection of immunologic side effects, application in prevention of other diseases, and practical expansion to under-resourced regions. This project aims to review emerging ideas to improve the way vaccines are designed and administered. Students will learn how to conduct a targeted literature search, assess for quality of original research articles, synthesize information, and write a literature review.

Biology, Cancer, Public Health

Josh
Josh

How do neighbors to cancer cells become accomplices in cancer progression?

When we think of our immune system and our microenvironment, we think of cancer cells invading the space (through dissemination). We don't often consider that they recruit other cells to help them continue to grow and divide. How are cancer cells able to influence other cells to be accomplices and disrupt the body's normal regulatory functions? The goal of this project is for students to form hypothesis on ways to target cancer cells by focusing on the environment around them, their neighboring cells, and the proteins that cancer cells may use to continue to grow. Students will conduct guided research of their own and write a report, article, or oral presentation on what we can target to treat certain cancers. By reading academic papers and having discussions, students will learn fundamental principles about cellular biology, molecular signaling, cancer progression, how to design experiments and ask critical questions, and how to creatively apply these hypotheses and experiments into real-world treatment scenarios. The proposed projects will help students feel more confident in their abilities to problem solve at a collegiate level for pre-medical or pre-graduate/laboratory research in the future.

Biology, Cancer

Christina
Christina

Impact of diet on skin microbiome

Many of us are familiar with the idea of a microbiome, and much has been made of the importance of the gut microbiome, and how our diet can affect it. However, there are many other microbiomes associated with the human body, one of the most important of which is the skin microbiome. It would be interesting to study the impact of different diets, e.g. a high fat/low-carb diet, or a calorically restricted diet, or a high-carb low fat diet, on the composition of individuals' skin microbiomes over time.

Biotech, Creative Writing, Medicine

Ian
Ian

Exploring whole genome sequences and genome analysis of multidrug resistant bacteria.

As well know today, antibiotic resistance in hospital and non-hospital settings has become a major public health issue worldwide. This antibiotic resistance issue is responsible of a huge deaths in hospitalized patients every year. So, as recommended by the international health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), fighting antibiotic resistance has become a top priority for health settings. Therefore, for this purpose, we need, among other things, to understand and to study first the resistance mechanisms and the modes of transmission of the resistance genes between bacterial pathogens. Here, I purpose to initiate young students to how to investigate the antibiotic resistance in clinical isolates using the emerging high throughput sequencing technologies. Indeed, in this project, we will see basic bioinformatic ways to analyze raw data of a sequenced bacterial genome (by Illumina for example). How to assemble these data to reconstruct the genome sequences of the isolates. How to perform bacterial genome annotation, and finally how to perform an exhaustive analysis of genome sequences to identify the full repertoire of resistance genes. We can perform genotyping analysis based on genomic data to identify putative emerging clone multidrug resistant. The project will focus mainly in basic bioinformatic analyses using open access programs and tools to analyze genome sequences.

Biotech

Seydina
Seydina

Stadium and Attendance Project

I have data on stadium capacities and season attendance numbers from all of the Big 4 leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) going back 20+ years (up to 2021). Maybe some interesting insights can be found from that? It would be up to the students to come up with where to go on this project!

Sports Analytics

Joseph
Joseph

Detecting substructures in dynamic graphs

A graph is a network of nodes and the lines between them. While seemingly simple, the data of a graph can be very rich -- for example, in a social network, you can detect clusters and divides that represent friend groups, influential individuals, and more. These models are also very useful for modelling the spread of information, or of disease. We often study these models in a static setting, taking a snapshot of connections and populations at one point in time. Applying some of these concepts to the ever-evolving setting of COVID-19 data, and investigating application-specific properties such as vaccination status, incubation period, and more, is an interesting problem with potentially very tangible insights to be gained.

Computer Science, AI/ML

Jane
Jane

The Backyard/Kitchen Table Scientist

How much scientific equipment do you have lying around? You might be surprised. I would help the student think outside the box and design a research project that can be completed from the comfort of their own home. From chemistry to ecology, the possibilities are limited only by creativity, not the resources available. Students would learn how to collect data with appropriate controls, create figures, and present scientific results in written and presentation-style formats.

Biology, Chemistry

Christian
Christian

Deep Learning for Automatic Brain Tumor, Edema, and Necrosis detection

For this project, the goal is to create, train, and deploy a deep neural network on images of MRI brain scans to look for a series of dangerous brain conditions. By creating this network, we can ensure that each patient scan receives two examinations; one from a radiologist and another from our product. Doing so reduces the odds that any harmful condition may be missed.

Engineering, Computer Science, Math, AI/ML

Eric
Eric

Poetry and Social Media

The rise of social media networks, particularly Instagram, have created a boom in the poetry world because of the quick and widespread way these short, imagistic poems can circulate. How has social media impacted the study of poetry as we know it? Have more people been interested in poetry because of these "instapoets"?

Social, Psychology, Literature, Creative Writing

Leela
Leela

Development of new cancer treatment with targeted medicine

Using our understanding of the human body and cellular markers, let's develop a new drug target to treat certain cancers. This project would involve a literature review of the latest research studying specific cellular markers that only cancer cells exhibit and designing a drug to target those markers. The goal of this project would be to publish our findings in a scientific journal and/or poster presentation at a conference.

Biology, Cancer, Social Science, Business

Clayton
Clayton

Literature review in medicine

The human body normally follows the same design, but occasionally we run into anatomical variations. For instance, having a short indicis propius is common in up to 10% of patients, which can lead to negative consequences if patients require tendon transfer for another issue, or need to have hand surgery. Other anatomic variants of consequence include those of the gallbladder ducts, which can be of consequence for gallbladder surgeries. These anatomic variants can make the difference between successful and failed surgeries, so it is important to review these variants and increase awareness. Thus, a possible project is having a literature review of observed variants and their possible surgical consequences. These are relatively simpler projects that are easily publishable.

Gearbox

Explore gears mechanism by designing a practical gear train having at least three stages and a gear reduction ratio of at least 10:1. Gearbox components can be 3D-printed and assembled with a DC motor or a manual crankshaft. Requirements: Access to a CAD software + 3D printing (Optional)

Engineering

Hassan
Hassan

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion within STEM

The world needs scientists from all backgrounds - yet, disparities exist across race, gender, and class in who becomes a scientist. Recent literature in the social sciences and education suggests that there are multiple angles researchers and policy makers can take in combating these disparities. In this project you can review current interventions designed to promote diversity in STEM, and these interventions underlying psychological mechanisms. Projects could include a suggested intervention to promote STEM interest among currently underrepresented students.

Social, Psychology, Social Science, Statistics

Andrew
Andrew

Measuring the impact of online reviews on customer satisfaction and loyalty for a hotel booking platform.

This project aims to design and conduct a survey to measure how online reviews influence customer satisfaction and loyalty for a hotel booking platform. The project will use a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative data from online surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The project will also analyze the relationship between online reviews, customer satisfaction, loyalty, and behavioral outcomes, such as repeat purchases, referrals, and complaints. The project will require skills in survey design, data collection, data analysis, and report writing. The project will be relevant for students who are interested in marketing, consumer behavior, or hospitality management.

Economics, Math, Business, Statistics

Jameson
Jameson

Exploring Immune Memory - Creative Writing

Write a short story based on the immune system and how it remembers the past to better protect you in the future, and what happens to your body when your immune system malfunctions.

Cancer

Maura
Maura