Research Questions

The following topics have been identified in partnership with University operational departments and faculty from various academic departments to assist students in identifying potential JP, Senior Thesis and graduate research topics using the campus itself as a living laboratory for sustainability problem-solving.

Please search the questions below, or use the sorting options to narrow your search by action area or discipline. Contact Kristi Wiedemann for more information.

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  • Can community gardens reduce loneliness, improve connections, improve feelings of well-being, improve mental health, etc.? 

    Action Area:
    Discipline:
    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, Psychology, Sociology
  • Conduct a before-and-after study of renovations to the Frist Gallery food waste disposal area. Test whether upgrades to the area result in less contamination of the compost or recycling streams, ease of access of the new system, or other variables.

    Discipline:
    Anthropology, Art & Archeology, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, Psychology, Robotics, Sociology
  • Conduct a comprehensive sustainability audit of the Rescue Mission in Trenton.

    Discipline:
    Anthropology, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, Sociology
  • Conduct a sustainability literacy assessment among students; take a baseline survey and measure changes over time.

    Discipline:
    Anthropology, English, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, Public and International Affairs
  • Design a rewards system for recycling properly, possibly in collaboration with existing student-designed app EcoTracker, then test to see whether recycling behavior is sustained after the reward is given.

    Action Area:
    Discipline:
    Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology
  • Design a robot that reduces contamination in campus recycling by removing common non-recyclable items from recycling bins, or uses machine learning to prompt individuals about the appropriate bin (compost, recycling, or trash) to use. 

    Action Area:
    Discipline:
    Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Robotics
  • Design prototype energy storage and generation devices that can be deployed on campus to enhance our microgrid.

    Action Area:
    Discipline:
    Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Physics, Robotics
  • Develop a robot to detect water or energy leakages in buildings.

    Discipline:
    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Robotics
  • Develop a tool to help visualize interactions between complex campus systems, e.g. energy and water use, transportation and stormwater runoff, purchasing and waste, etc.

    Discipline:
    Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology
  • Develop less environmentally harmful prototype alternatives to single-use consumer products (e.g. disposable water bottles, straws, utensils).

    Action Area:
    Discipline:
    Chemistry