Inquiry to Impact Projects

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What are Inquiry to Impact Projects?

Inquiry to Impact Projects pursue creative and innovative answers to societal challenges and open-ended questions in multidisciplinary teams with students, faculty, and external partners. These multi-semester projects span the journey from creative inquiry to sustainable impact. Students develop their competencies for independent inquiry and discovery, multidisciplinary teamwork, design thinking, entrepreneurial thinking, systems thinking, and getting stuff done.

Spring 2019 Inquiry to Impact Projects

Lehigh and the Valley: A Symbiotic Future?
This project will engage Lehigh Valley communities through survey methods to assess to what extent low-income communities perceive Lehigh University as detached from its socioeconomic environment. The resulting evidence will inform a strategy to develop a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with low-income communities in the greater Lehigh Valley. Lead Mentor: Luis Brunstein
Low-Cost Diagnostics in Sierra Leone
Extremely inexpensive test strips to screen people for Urinary Tract Infections and Diabetes in Sierra Leone. A sci/eng subteam will focus on chemistry and product design issues, and social science & business sub-teams will work on on-the-ground distribution and education aspects. Following successful fieldwork in Sierra Leone in summer 2018, this team will analyze and assess data gathered and work to expand on-the-ground operations and distribution/education. Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta
The Neurogenetics of Creativity
We are exploring the genetic underpinnings of differences between individuals, and introducing proteins into genetic animals to test whether mutant versions can restore functioning as well as normal versions. This project can explain why some have difficulty overcoming traumas and fears, and ultimately help to maximize potential and allow people to live their most creative lives. Lead Mentors: Julie Miwa and Frank Zhang
Pop-Up Parklets
How can we develop and design simple urban spaces to build community and increase quality of life? This project will build on the Parklet movement by designing and installing inexpensive Parklets in Bethlehem, testing their effectiveness, and planning ways to replicate the project at other locations throughout the city. Lead Mentor: Karen Beck Pooley
Thera Metrey: Growing Mushrooms in Sierra Leone
Refining and proliferating mushroom production houses for Sierra Leonean farmers, to be utilized as a source of income and a cash crop. Following successful field work in this area in Cambodia during the summer of 2017 and Sierra Leone in the summer of 2018, members of the team will analyze data gathered from this fieldwork to conduct further tests and build networks. Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta
Beyond Bars
This project will write and produce a play based on the experiences of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We will measure the production's impact on audience members' opinions of these issues before and after the performance. This is truly an exploration of how applied theater can motivate a diverse community to become mobilized in political reform. Lead Mentor: Karen Beck Pooley
The Biobank Network
Biobanks—storage facilities for biomedical supplies—are currently independent operators without a connected network to share information and locations. This project aims to eliminate that hindrance by creating a new mechanism for biobanks and those in need of biological material to find one another and conduct needed exchanges. Lead Mentor: Ana Alexandrescu
Assessing Parent-Child Communication
This project aims to develop a coding scheme that will capture the quality of parent-child communication in video during an 8-minute conversation between mothers and children. The goal of the project is to find differences in language use and non-verbal communication strategies across ethnically diverse high-risk mother-child pairs. Our coding scheme will be made available to other researchers who do work on ethnically diverse families. Lead Mentor: Debbie Laible
Virtual Reality - Lehigh River Watershed
We are creating a highly immersive Virtual Reality (VR) space that can be used in multiple types of educational settings for students to investigate the ecology, history, and environmental issues of the Lehigh River watershed. This VR learning space will be highly immersive and interactive to enable learners to personally feel a connection to the subject material. Lead Mentors: Alec Bodzin, David Anastasio, Farah Vallera, and Tom Hammond
River Meandering
River meandering has been attributed to the erosion and deposition of sediments along river banks, yet the fundamental cause of the instability has not been heretofore identified. We plan to show that meandering in all systems is driven by the existence of an adverse pressure gradient, such that the resulting deceleration imposed upon the fluid causes it to be energetically favorable to divert the flow to either side of its original direction. Lead Mentors: Dork Sahagian and Panos Diplas
Negotiating Privacy Boundaries
In this increasingly networked world, it has become more challenging to protect private information concerning both the individual and the groups that one belongs to. Managing shared boundaries online is almost impossible using the existing mechanisms and strategies. This project aims to develop new understanding and create new tools to facilitate collaborative privacy management in online scenarios. Lead Mentors: Haiyan Jia, Eric Baumer, and Ting Wang
Southside Permaculture Park
Through the creation of a park-like garden, we will create a space where anyone can come and see the diverse web of connections that exist between varied species to create a mutually supportive network of symbiotic relationships. An interactive website will accompany the garden to expand education about the park and its ecosystem. Lead Mentor: David Casagrande
Malnutrition in Children Under Five in Sierra Leone
Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are common in Sierra Leone, especially among children under five years of age. The focus of this project is to study the causes of the problem and identify potential solutions, such as developing highly nutritious foods that are appealing to young children. The project has both technical and business components. Lead Mentors: Lori Herz and Janos Pinter
Sickle Cell Anemia in Sierra Leone
Anemia is highly prevalent in Sierra Leone and sickle cell diseases are one important cause of its prevalence. The current diagnosis of anemia in Sierra Leone is symptom-based, and no diagnostics are available for sickle cell disease. This project will develop point-of-care diagnostics for sickle cell disease and anemia, ultimately making these tests available to clinics in Sierra Leone. Lead Mentor: Xuanhong Cheng
Forging Ahead through Engineering Leadership
Erwin and Ludwig Loewy changed the world with their engineering innovations in metal forming. This project will develop an interactive exhibit to maximize understanding of the Loewys' technical accomplishments. Resources include the Loewy archives at Lehigh, a potential visit to company where forging presses are still in operation, and opportunity for partnership with the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem. Lead Mentors: Scott Garrigan and Wojtek Misiolek
Viral Adhesion and Invasion
The goal of this project is to understand virus uptake processes in quantitative detail both experimentally and theoretically. We will conduct single-molecule and single-cell base microscopy study to measure binding forces between virus and human host cells, develop understanding of the behavior of collections of adhesion molecules (proteins on cell surfaces that cause cells to bind to other cells or particles), and ultimately to develop a predictive model for how an entire virus particle attaches to a cell prior to its uptake. Lead Mentor: Frank Zhang

Get Inspired! Past i2I Projects

Created a collaborative online space where users can create loop-based music - like a Google Doc for sound! Check out Jamrooms at
Gender in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a nexus of issues around gender equality, socioeconomic status, power dynamics in the workplace, and free speech. This project explored those issues, talked to subject experts, and determined possible solutions.