Mountaintop Summer Experience

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What are Mountaintop Projects?

Mountaintop projects are interdisciplinary deep dives where faculty, students, and external partners come together and take new intellectual, creative, and/or artistic pathways that lead to transformative new innovations, new expressions, and new questions. We expect students to take radical ownership in their projects, and envision faculty mentors as partners and co-creators striving to propel their projects forward on the journey towards tangible, sustainable impact: impact which builds the skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of pioneers and change-makers in a rapidly changing world.



from Inquiry to Impact


Following CDC guidelines and the advie of Lehigh's health professionals, the University recently cancelled all on-campus summer programs through the end of July. The Office of Creative Inquiry and the Mountaintop Initiative, like the rest of the Lehigh community, remains committed to continuing the innovative, impactful, inquiry-driven work of our students and faculty.  Therefore, this summer, 25 Mountaintop Summer Experience project teams will be conducting their work virtually and remotely. Watch our weekly newsletters and your email inboxes for announcements of project "press conferences," which will be open to the public, to be held twice during the summer, as well as other opportunities for public presentation. We look forward to returning to campus as a community once again-but until then, stay safe and stay healthy.  

For more information please email us at:


2020 Mountaintop Summer Experience projects


List of Projects and Descriptions

  1. Beyond Bars – Project mentor: Bill Whitney, Theatre
    • The issue of mass incarceration is one that touches lives locally, regionally, and globally. The Beyond Bars project aims to use innovative forms of theatre and other forms of artistic expression to examine individual and community-wide consequences that stem from mass incarceration and draw attention, dialogue, and advocacy on behalf of these critical social justice issues. Students have written and produced two pieces of reader’s theatre based on stories and interviews conducted in the Northampton County Prison system. Currently, we are focusing attention on women in the prison system. Keywords / student interests: mass incarceration, social justice, arts advocacy, theatre and drama, performance, public policy.


  1. Community Engagement and Environmental Initiatives in Kazakhstan – Faculty mentor: Dinissa Duvanova, International Relations
    • This project is researching approaches to assessing the environmental and social impacts of air pollution, working with local stakeholders in and around Almaty, Kazakhstan to collect data and design and implement a locally sustainable system for monitoring air quality. The team will evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative approaches to monitoring air quality, test and assess the proposed solution, and produce the technical and public reports detailing the results of their research. They will also write policy briefs for the Department of Green Economics and local environmental NGOs.  Keywords / student interests: environmental science, public policy, international relations, urban design, public health.


  1. Copra Processing and Production – Faculty mentors: Sabrina Jedlicka, Materials Science and Engineering; Christina Haden, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
    • Copra, the dried sections of the meat of coconuts, is valued for its many uses including coconut oil extract, but is also a major agricultural export for the Philippines. It is often processed using traditional, time-consuming and inefficient methods including sun-drying and smoke-drying, before being processed into its various products. This project’s goal is to improve copra processing and process streamlining for increased income of copra farmers in
    • the Philippines. Identified needs include a faster, all-weather processing technique that yields better copra quality compared to manual methods, and a way for farmers to communicate over long distances. Keywords / student interests: sustainable agriculture, economies of scale, materials science, mechanical engineering, public policy.


  1. Data-Driven Image-Based Calibration for SLA/DLP Printing and Lithography - Faculty mentor: Yaling Liu, Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics
    • 3D printing, and additive manufacturing, have become ubiquitous in today’s society. But how can we make these processes more reliable and accurate? This project focuses on a data-driven method for calibration and reducing imperfections in the process of lithography or 3D printing using the stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP) methods. Keywords / student interests: computer science, math, computer engineering, data science, stereolithography.


  1. Developing Lab Tasks to Measure how European-American Mothers Socialize Racial Attitudes  in Young Children - Faculty mentor: Debbie Laible, Psychology
    • How are attitudes and perspectives of white children toward other races formed in the earliest parts of childhood from their parents? This project will design and implement laboratory studies, to understand what factors lead to the formation of racial understanding, and dig deeper into verbal and nonverbal messages from parents. Keywords / student interests: child development, psychology of race, parenting, sociology.


  1. Diagnosing Autism in Africa – Faculty mentor: Kristi Morin, College of Education, Special Education program
    • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is considered a global health concern; however, nearly everything we know about autism comes from research in high-income countries. The dearth of research on ASD is particularly problematic in countries across Africa, likely due to the lack of a culturally appropriate screening and diagnostic tool to identify individuals with ASD. This project will evaluate tools commonly used in the United States to diagnose autism in order to assess their feasibility and cultural appropriateness. Keywords / student interests: child development, public health, cultural anthropology, special education.


  1. Early-Life Sensitization to Air Pollution and Childhood Asthma Pheno-Endotype (ESCAPE) – Faculty mentor: Hyunok Choi, College of Health
    • Asthma is a heterogeneous collection of syndromes, which afflict over 300 million people worldwide. In the U.S., the annual economic burden of direct asthma care exceeds $81 billion per year. Yet, prevailing therapies do not work for 38% of asthmatic children. The ESCAPE project is poised to identify the causality for multiple subtypes of asthma, determining the mechanisms associated with prenatal exposure to specific air pollutants and their conseqeuences before and after birth. Keywords / student interests: population health, environmental health, data analysis, bioengineering, community and public health engagement, public health policy.


  1. Expanding LGBT Community Archival Holdings and Exhibiting Archival Material to Engage Communities in Regional LGBT History – Faculty mentor: Mary Foltz, English
    • Continuing to expand, curate, and discover archival materials that document the history of LGBTQ+ people in the Lehigh Valley. This team will create a public exhibit of the archive, working with local partners and organizations to mine the trove of hidden histories and bring them to light. Keywords / student interests: community engagement, LGBTQ+ advocacy, museum exhibitions, local histories.


  1. Food Product to Fight Malnutrition and Stunting – Faculty mentor: Lori Herz, Bioengineering
    • Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are common in Sierra Leone, especially among children under five years of age.  This often results in stunting, wasting, developmental delays, and mortality. Over the past year, this team has developed several nutrient-dense foods at Lehigh, which were prepared and tested in Sierra Leone last summer. The next phase of the work includes improvement of the recipes, investigating methods of preservation and packaging, analysis of the products for nutrient levels, shelf-life testing, designing a clinical study, and creating and executing a business plan. Keywords / student interests: nutrition science, marketing, food systems, bioengineering, public health.


  1. Immersive Virtual Reality at the Lehigh River Watershed – Faculty mentors: Al Bodzin, College of Education, Teaching, Learning & Technology program; David Anastasio, Earth & Environmental Sciences; Tom Hammond, College of Education, Teaching, Learning & Technology program
    • This project is designing, developing, testing, and implementing an immersive virtual reality (iVR) project for STEM education to promote engagement and learning about spatial watershed features and environmental issues in the Lehigh River watershed. This project seeks to advance a novel approach using iVR learning with place-based learning and game design principles to broaden access to STEM learning experiences for adolescents and adults with a collaboration of informal STEM centers in the Lehigh Valley. Team members will learn Unity programming skills and develop immersive games for learning. Keywords / student interests: virtual reality, education technology, environmental education, games and game theory, programming, coding, STEM education.


  1. Mathematical Modeling and Syndromic Surveillance of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania – Faculty mentors: Thomas McAndrew, Hyunok Choi, Halcyon Skinner, College of Health
    • This project is going to build an integrated surveillance and forecasting system to predict future burden of COVID-19 on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The project is early-stage and during the 2020 Mountaintop Summer Experience there will be initial exploration and prototyping. Students should have a strong interest in programming with Python. Prior programming experience is a plus, but not required. Keywords / student interests: data science, machine learning, biostatistics, infectious disease.


  1. Mech - A Platform for Robotics Outreach Education – Faculty mentor: Corey Montella, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
    • Knowledge of coding is essential in the 21st century! Teaching coding through interactions with robotics can make the subject accessible to secondary school students, and Mech is a programming language that makes coding a highly learnable and teachable skill. This project will develop an education outreach program using Mech called Forward Robotics and implement it into school systems. Keywords / student interests: STEM education, programming and coding languages, machine learning.


  1. Mushroom Production Systems – Faculty mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry
    • Mushrooms grow fast! Commercial production of mushrooms can improve local food security, reduce malnutrition, and augment livelihoods. After tremendous success in Cambodia, this team is designing a commercial mushroom production ecosystem in Sierra Leone. After two years of work, the team has successfully jumpstarted oyster mushroom production with a local project manager now running operations. It’s time to figure out how to grow operations from 10 kgs/month to 1,000 kgs/month. Keywords / student interests: sustainable agriculture, systems engineering, community health, international relations, food security.


  1. Neuroscience Salon (NeuroSalon) - Faculty mentor: Julie Miwa, Biological Sciences
    • How does the brain connect scientific thought with artistic creation? How can we make that connection stronger? This project will use existing neuroscience to create new neuroscience, making artistic and musical creations that can “speak” the language of scientific knowledge in a way that bridges both of these usually separate worlds. Keywords / student interests: music composition, neurobiology and neuroscience, creative performance.


  1. PlasTech Ventures – Empowering Women by Recycling Plastic to Produce High-Value Products – Faculty mentors: Ganesh Balasubramanian, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics; Brian Slocum, Managing Director, Design Labs; Don Morris, Earth & Environmental Sciences
    • This project aims to provide income opportunities for women in a partnering local community (Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines) by building a community-based, micro-recycling facility. Now in year two of the project, moving forward means further assessing the market opportunities, continue development on equipment, and develop a path for technology transfer and training. Through this project, women in the community will be manufacturing up-cycled products themselves, thus emphasizing gender equality and empowerment. Aside from finished goods, useful raw materials may also be made and supplied to local manufacturers to turn into high-value products. Keywords / student interests: sustainable development, circular economies, product design, mechanical engineering, additive manufacturing, environmental science, international relations, local economies.


  1. The Political Psyche of Young People – Faculty mentor: Anthony DiMaggio, Political Science
    • The current generation of 16-25 year-olds in the United States has always lived in a chaotic, rapidly transforming world. The effect that this instability has had on this generation’s engagement with, and activism outside of, the political system has been profound. Many academics and pundits have analyzed the political state of young people, but this project will undertake a vast exploration and ethnography to mine for stories of young people and politics, in their own words, in the hopes of defining the political identity of this generation in a truthful way, and perhaps inspiring greater action and engagement. Keywords / student interests: political science, sociology, public policy, storytelling and narrative structure, cultural ethnography, marketing, political activism.


  1. Preventing School-Based Violence through Gender Expansion and Equity – Faculty mentor: Nicole Johnson, College of Education, Counseling Psychology program
    • The prevention of violence in schools is an increasingly critical matter that reaches across political divides. This project will examine this issue, and propose and pilot a curricular solution for K-12 schools, through the lens of gender equity. The primary question at hand is: what relationship do gender-based violence and gender inequality play in the prevalence of school-based violence? Ultimately the project will establish best practices for violence prevention in schools. Keywords / student interests: gender-based violence, educational programming, gender studies, educational equity, curriculum design, sociology of gender in/and youth.



  1. Promoting Experiential Learning and Creative Inquiry in Science and Engineering via Interactive Online Visualization - Faculty mentors: Srinivas Rangarajan and Vince Grassi, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
    • STEM education, particularly engineering education, will become increasingly personal and experiential. This project will design and create interactive visualizations as a means of conveying complex concepts in science and engineering, giving students new ways to understand how these concepts play out in active, real time. Keywords / student interests: STEM education, chemical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, data visualization.


  1. Rewriting the Script 2.0: Designing Virtual Racial Embodiment Interactions to Transform U.S. Race Relations - Faculty mentor: Valerie Taylor, Psychology
    • Could virtual reality be the key to improving interracial relations? This project will continue to build on the work of teams in the past year, who have been developing VR scenarios, using the political theatre theories of artists like Augusto Boal, which can allow users to embody the “other” in order to increase empathy and understanding. Keywords / student interests: virtual reality, psychology of race, coding, theatre and drama.


  1. Safe Motherhood in Sierra Leone – Documenting Stories of Healthcare Innovation and Community Resilience – Faculty mentors: Michael Kramp, English; Fathima Wakeel, College of Health
    • This team has focused on specific challenges and responsive innovations to confront the maternal health crisis in Sierra Leone, with the long-term goal of producing a festival-ready documentary film. At this point, the team is focused on three shorter docu-stories that highlight both the extent of the problem and some of the innovations. These shorter videos will be distributed in online formats to garner publicity and financial support for the project. Keywords / student interests: documentary filmmaking, cultural anthropology, storytelling, arts advocacy, public policy, communications and marketing, international relations.


  1. A Stormwater Smart Campus - Faculty mentor: Ethan Yang, Civil & Environmental Engineering
    • With climate change upon us, how do we mitigate against the threat of floods? Flooding can cause economic and structural damage that takes years to recover from. Green Infrastructure (GI) elements like rain barrels and green roofs can reduce this damage significantly. This project will work to upgrade GI on Lehigh’s campus, ultimately becoming a model for GI upgrades city- and nation-wide. Keywords / student interests: sustainable development, green infrastructure, structural engineering, urban design, environmental science.


  1. Testbed for Self-Driving Cars in Urban Environments with Traffic - Faculty mentor: Cristian-Ioan Vasile, Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics
    • We all know about the dawn of the self-driving car, but we also know about the problems and dangers in early versions. This project will plan, design, and create a working testbed that will simulate various urban environments and traffic scenarios, and will employ various simulations, with the goal of developing improved operating software for self-driving cars in complex urban landscapes. Keywords / student interests: systems engineering, programming, hardware design, urban design, transportation, machine learning.


  1. Virtual Lives of Vaping - Faculty mentors: Haiyan Jia, Journalism & Communication; Amanda Greene, Humanities Lab; Eduardo Gomez, College of Health
    • Vaping, and related “vape culture,” has become a public health problem just as tobacco and cigarettes were for prior generations. This project will dig deeply into the culture and marketing of vaping, how “vape-fluencers” leverage social media and other platforms to disseminate products, and the resulting risks to public health, eventually constructing and implementing workable vaping cessation campaigns. Keywords / student interests: sociology, public health, public communications, social media, cultural anthropology, marketing.


  1. Ukweli Test Strips – Faculty mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry
    • Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. This team has developed inexpensive (2-cent) test strips to screen women for Urinary Tract Infections and Preeclampsia during pregnancy. The team recently received regulatory approval from the Pharmacy Control Board in Sierra Leone, and is preparing for fieldwork in August to strengthen field operations, design and implement effective messaging strategies, and integrate the test strips into the national healthcare system. Keywords / student interests: public health, marketing, cultural economies, healthcare systems, public policy.


  1. Save Tuba: Smart City Digital Innovations – Faculty mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry
    • Smart city project innovations are being introduced throughout Kazakhstan, particularly in the country’s largest city, Almaty. These innovations are happening in the areas of health care, education, and safety/security, among many others. As Almaty continues to grow and develop into a major world capital, the need for it to be on the leading edge of the “smart cities” movement will only increase. This project will work with community organizations and leading universities in Kazakhstan, as well as students from Lingnan University in Hong Kong, to design and develop the next generation of smart city urban design innovations, and find ways to work with governmental and NGO entities to implement those solutions into the Kazakh capital. Keywords / student interests: urban design, electrical and computer engineering, data science, public policy, international relations, community engagement.

2019 Mountaintop Summer Projects-- Click Image for Website or Abstract!

Summer 2019 Mountaintop Images

Summer 2019 Mountaintop Students
Inclusive Economies Summer Mountaintop Fellows
Robots Team Press Conference
Southside Permaculture Summer Mountaintop Fellows
Sickle Cell Test Strips
VR of the Lehigh River Watershed Summer Mountaintop Fellows
Mushroom Grow House Image
Summer Mountaintop Fellows and BYO Workshop

Get Inspired! Past Mountaintop Projects

Beyond Bars: Redesigning Criminal Justice through Theatre and Social Change
This project will write and produce a play based on the experiences of currently and formerly incarcerated people. Observations and engagement in work done by local community organizations aiming to reduce inequality and working with individuals as they transition out of prison and back into their neighborhoods will inform this production about the criminal justice system’s negative impacts on people, families, and communities. The project will not only stage this production but also measure its 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 | Mentors: Holona Ochs & Bill Whitney
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
Bone Growth v. Vascular Growth: Which Comes First?
The central question for this project is to define the relationship between bone growth and vascular patterning. For example, does increasing nutrient supply via blood vessels drive bone growth, or, do growing bones call on new blood vessels for support? Students involved in this project will address this question using the zebrafish regenerating fin. We have identified different strain backgrounds of zebrafish that exhibit differences in the length of bony fin ray segments and differences in the size and organization of blood vessels. Students can determine how best to manipulate these systems and begin to provide mechanistic insights into the drivers of tissue growth and size. Lead Mentors: M. Kathy Iovine, Linda Lowe-Krentz
Breaking the Buchanan Street Wall: Using History to Foster Engagement Between Lehigh Students and Nearby Small Business Owners
Near Lehigh University’s campus is the vibrant, ethnically diverse 4 Blocks International commercial district. But it is an area Lehigh students rarely frequent; an invisible wall seems to divide Lehigh folks from the neighborhood. Using techniques of creative placemaking (storygathering with local merchants, web-based storysharing, and tours for Lehigh students) our team will work to foster dialogue and connections between the Lehigh University community, and these diverse businesses and their proprietors, in efforts to break down that imaginary wall. Lead Mentor: Kim Carrell-Smith
Developing a Coding System to Assess Parent-Child Communication Quality in Diverse Contexts
Our project aims to develop a coding scheme that will capture the quality of parent-child communication in video during an 8-minute conversation between mother-child dyads who were part of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project. The goal of this mountaintop project will be to operationalize differences in language use and non-verbal communication strategies across ethnically diverse high-risk mother-child dyads (who discussed areas of conflict in their relationship). Developing a tool to measure and evaluate these differences in a culturally diverse sample will allow us to identify how specific characteristics of parent-child communication relate to a range of family characteristics and child outcomes in diverse families. Our coding scheme will be made available to other researchers who do work on ethnically diverse families. Lead Mentor: Debbie Laible
Do You Hear What I Hear? Development of a Cochlear Implant Simulation App
Spoken language is perhaps the most uniquely human behavior in the animal kingdom. Language is learned during a critical developmental period early in life, and learning potential falls from early adolescence. We owe much of our language ability to our parents and siblings; one can easily conjure the image of a mother repeating utterances back to their child often emphasizing misspoken syllables. This tutor/child interaction holds the inherent assumption that both mother and child hear speech similarly. For profoundly deaf cochlear implant patients, this is not the case. While remarkably successful at restoring hearing function, implants are constrained in the frequency domain, which limits discrimination of subtle but important elements of speech. Implant patient speech is often delayed compared to normal listeners. Our goal is to create a mobile implant simulator solution so that parents and caregivers can experience the acoustic world similarly to their implanted child. It is our hope that this will accelerate language development, and allow parents to gain a real-time appreciation of their child’s experience. Lead Mentor: Susan Perry | Mentor: R. Michael Burger
Forging Ahead through Engineering Leadership
Erwin and Ludwig Loewy changed the world with their engineering innovations in metal forming. Their ideas, and even the machines they built, are still in use more than half a century later, their history is known only to limited audience. The goal is to develop an interactive exhibit to maximize understanding of the Loewy 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, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Lead Mentor: Wojtek Misiolek | Mentors: Lois Fischer Black, Stephen Cutcliffe, Scott Garrigan
Gambling on Community: Ten Years of the Casino in Southside Bethlehem
When Bethlehem Steel closed its doors in 1995, the Lehigh Valley lost a corporate employer and indeed a corporate icon. When the Sands Casino opened its doors in May 2009, the Lehigh Valley gained a new corporate employer and icon. Our film project will research and document the impact of the Sands Casino on the Lehigh Valley community, and in particular, Southside Bethlehem. Students will engage in public research methods, including the study of government documents, employment records, and city council minutes. We will also conduct an abundance of interviews with community leaders who can address the impact of the casino. Lead Mentor: Michael Kramp
Human Interaction with Agile Autonomous Robots
Autonomous robots have been rapidly becoming an integral part of our daily life. Robots have great potentials to collaborate with humans in various applications such as search engines, self-driving cars, industrial robotics, medical surgeries, and surveillance. Fast real-time perception and control by a robot are the key factors for successful collaboration with humans. The objective of this project is to develop novel algorithms for perception and control in order to minimize risk of failures in human-robot interactions. Lead Mentor: Nader Motee
Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Development of the 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. Learning in a highly immersive VR environment will enable students to make better connections between science, social science, and decision-making contexts in their local environment, while promoting geospatial thinking skills. This VR learning space will be highly immersive and interactive to enable learners to personally feel a connection to the subject material. Lead Mentor: Alec Bodzin | Mentors: David Anastasio, Tom Hammond, Scott Rutzmoser, Farah Vallera
In Search of the Fundamental Cause of 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. In this project, we address the conditions that lead to the meander instability in the first place. Rivers are only one of many fluid systems that meander, and no other involves sediments at all. As such, a universal criterion is needed to explain meandering in general. 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, Panos Diplas
Lehigh and the Valley: A Symbiotic Future?
There seems to be a standing narrative at Lehigh University that low-income communities in the Lehigh Valley perceive our institution as detached from its socioeconomic environment and as an elitist place catered to the privileged classes. The objective of this project is to engage these communities through adequately designed survey methods to asses to what extend this narrative is supported by evidence. The analysis and results are vital to inform the strategy, to be designed, to achieve one of the University’s long-term goals of developing a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with low-income communities in the greater Lehigh Valley. Lead Mentor: Luis Brunstein
Lehigh Hyperloop: Exploring Campus Transportation
Given Lehigh University's expansion plans over the next few years, the Lehigh Hyperloop team is focusing on researching and developing a theoretical framework for safe and reliable autonomous transportation [on Lehigh's campus]. We will identify the areas with the greatest potential for impact, and develop solutions accordingly. At our project's completion, Lehigh will be better equipped to handle the future of campus transportation; ideally, our solution will also be scalable for industry use.
Low-Cost Diagnostics in Sierra Leone
Extremely inexpensive test strips to screen people for Urinary Tract Infections and Diabetes in Sierra Leone. While the science/engineering sub-team will focus on chemistry and product design issues, the social science and business sub-teams will work on on-the-ground distribution and education aspects. Members of this team will travel to Sierra Leone during the summer to conduct field work and expand on-the- ground operations and distribution/education aspects. Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta
Negotiating Privacy Boundaries: the Social and Collective Aspects of Privacy Management
Privacy is a fundamental concerns in communication and information technology. The management of information privacy becomes increasingly challenging when 1) personal information posted online gets seen by people we do not expect; 2) friends share information concerning us without permission; and 3) private information is collected, stored, and used by devices and systems unbeknownst to us. We no longer can protect our privacy on our own, but need help from the people and systems who access our private information. This project aims at exploring new possibilities for collaborative privacy management, developing new understanding, making new discoveries, and creating new tools. Lead Mentor: Haiyan Jia | Mentors: Eric P.S. Baumer, Ting Wang
The Neurogenetics of Creativity
Why are people different? Why are some resilient and others afraid to reach their goals? We are exploring possible genetic underpinnings of differences between individuals. We are also introducing proteins into genetic animal and seeing if mutant versions can restore functioning as well as the normal versions can. Single-molecule measurements can detect minute differences in binding affinity between them to reveal why the proteins function differently. This project can provide an explanation for why some individuals have difficulty overcoming traumas and fears. Ultimately, we hope the information can help to maximize people's potential and allow them to live their most creative lives. Lead Mentor: Julie Miwa | Mentor: Frank Zhang
Pop-Up Parklets: Increasing Quality and Walkability of Life in Smaller Cities
How can we develop and design simple urban spaces to build community and increase quality of life? Since the first Parklet appeared in San Francisco roughly a decade ago, these mini parks have begun serving as spots for outdoor dining, enjoying locally-made artwork, exercising, and socializing. While many Parklets now exist, few do in smaller cities and few, too, have been systematically and rigorously analyzed to determine what impacts they have on the people who use them and their surrounding communities. This project will fill this gap by designing and installing an inexpensive Parklet in Bethlehem, testing its effectiveness, and planning ways to replicate the project at other locations throughout the city. Lead Mentor: Karen Beck Pooley
Southside Permaculture Park
The EcoHouse Lehigh Southside Permaculture Park is designed to integrate the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities with each other and with the greater community of life. 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 so that anyone who visits can learn about all of the species, how they interact, how to care for and use them, and how to replicate this model elsewhere. Lead Mentor: David Casagrande | Mentor: Albert Wurth
Squeezing Every Last Drop: Recovering and Valorizing Waste for Sustainability at the Energy-Water Nexus
This project will seek a game-changing paradigm aimed at near 100% recovery, processing, and ultimate monetization of organic matter from wastewater as a sustainable untapped economic resource and “silver bullet” solution to the burgeoning global demand for fresh water. Efficient recovery and conversion of organic waste would open new avenues to net-positive energy production that would make wastewater treatment an economic opportunity rather than oft-ignored legislative requirement. This diverse team of chemical, energy, and environmental engineers, economists, and urban planners will study how novel adsorbent technologies can be leveraged to meet technological, societal, and economic challenges at the water-energy nexus. Lead Mentor: Mark Snyder | Mentors: Vince Grassi, Alberto Lamadrid, Jeetain Mittal, Srinivas Rangarajan, Arup SenGupta, Ramesh Shankar
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 when others are not accessible. Following successful field work in this area in Cambodia during the summer of 2017, members of the team will travel to Sierra Leone this summer to conduct further tests and build networks. Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta
3D Concrete Printing
Developed new 3D printing technology and innovated on useable, printed concrete for future uses in construction
Student Motivation App
Created and designed an app to assess and monitor student motivations and progress in mathematics
Created Poly-Tics, a web platform that analyzed social media in order to help people recognize media bias and diversify their political media.
DataLight is an interactive media installation that provides people with an intuitive understanding of their own personal data
Fake News
Conducted research studies on the psychological factors that affect how people receive and are deceived by news sources
Greening the UN's Missions
Developed a tool to enable select UN Missions to align the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals in their facilities and operations
Mushroom Production in Cambodia
Standardized the design of mushroom production systems and explored processing and storage methods in rural Cambodia
Street Medicine
Examined care delivery and impediments to healthcare access in vulnerable populations, specifically the homeless in the Lehigh Valley
Pop-Up Parklets
Designed, built, and installed low-cost parklets in Southside Bethlehem to improve walkability.
Intentional Design
Explored the relationship between psychology and design and created objects to help cope with mental illness
Created a free, collaborative online space for users to compose loop-based music.
Recycled Drywall Gypsum
Discovered an efficient way to convert gypsum drywall into high value fertilizers, reducing construction waste
Neurogenetics of Creativity
Studied the genetics and brain processes behind creativity to help define what creativity really is
Designed and manufactured garments embedded with a wide-range of technology for practical uses.
Aging & Technology
Designed technologies for aging adults with consideration of social and medical concerns and factors
Asa Packer: An Extraordinary Man in Extraordinary Times
Studied the history of Asa Packer and attempted to tell his story despite the lack of previous public scholarship and archival sources
Actions to Deliver Racial & Ethnic Equity in Education
Advanced equitable educational outcomes for low-income and minority students in communities in the US and Czech Republic
Civic Hacking, Resource Mapping, & Using Community Data for Change
Explored issues of civic data, asset mapping, and community engagement to identify potential social issues and needs
"Weaving Our We" : Arts & Humanities for Civic Engagement
Designed a dedicated arts and humanities program that also engaged community partners for the public good
Atomic Layer Deposition Instrument
Built an Atomic Layer Deposition Instrument which deposits an extremely thin layer of material that adheres to the surface it is applied on
Passive Learning Techniques to Identify Pseudoscience
Designed a strategy game where players learned to differentiate between science and psuedoscience
Flow Networks for Pipeline Blockages & their Detection
Studied the complexities of locating and solving the problem of blockages in large pipeline networks
History of Africana Studies Film
Created a film that explored how the Africana Studies program at Lehigh University has addressed question of race within the campus environment
Technology & Child Development: Geometric & Spatial Learning
Built an app that promotes child development while utilizing the back-end analytics to further research in the field
Lehigh Valley Shares
Established a free website that allows people in the Lehigh Valley to trade resources, products, and other items in order to reduce waste
Orthopedic Shoes
Researched how niche markets affect product design and tested biomedical technology methods in the design process in orthopedic shoes
sDev Lab
Explores the role of policy think tanks, big data analysis, social entrepreneurship, consulting, and scholarship in sustainable development
Smart Schools
Developed technology that enables schools to collect, analyze, and utilize data in new and unexpected ways
Social Simulation Lab
Researched, designed, play-tested, and produced several social simulation board games
Sports & Evolution Lab
Created a new scholarly field of sports study through digital measurement and representation of physical capacity and performance
Sustainability in the Developing World
Identified and quantified aspects of the NGO/education system that may not be replicable, scalable, and/or self-sustaining
Refugee Transition through Empowerment & Education
Identified and considered ways educators can appropriately prepare and support refugee students as they transition into new communities
Urban Planning & Transportation at Lehigh University
Studied the potential environmental impacts of campus transportation to design a smarter system for Lehighs campus
Creative Writing & Social Justice
Explored how creative writing encourages alternate social, personal, and political lifestyles and studied writers' growth through community interaction
A New Portal: Connecting the World through an LCD Globe
Designed an LCD globe display to serve as a connection portal between people and places and to study the integration of art and technology
Low-Energy Sustainable Farming
Achieved a fully energy-independent food growing enterprise at Lehigh University Goodman Campus Community Garden
Integrated Activity Pods
Studied and optimized the design of standalone mobile structures that house research activities
3D Printed Exoskeletons
Designed exoskeleton appliances that aid in rehabilitation for patients with muscle disorders of the hand
Creative Learning Activity Portfolios
Built a portfolio of creative arts learning activities for public school students
Hip Hop and Entrepreneurship
Explored the market space at the intersection of hip hop and entrepreneurship and developed a viable app for that space
The 40+ Project
Interviewed Lehigh University faculty members of 40+ years to explore the growth and value of teaching over time
Bethlehem Unbound
Explored the role that storytelling plays in Bethlehems social and political life and created potential programs and products that could have sustainable community impact
The Lost Village of Christians Spring
Studied the now-lost Moravian community of Christians Spring through the use of archival sources
Extra-Terrestrial Greenhouses
Attempted to create an agricultural system that can be maintained in extreme conditions with few resources, as in outer space
Conservation of the Highly Endangered Desert Pupfish
Explored methods, in a lab setting, to conserve the highly endangered desert pupfish
Engineering Equality Documentary
Created a full documentary on the history of diversity at Lehigh University and completed an instructional guide for classroom use to accompany the film
Printing Technology & Tradition: Exploring Printing & Pattern in a Global Context
Explored the evolution of global textile patterns using a combination of traditional printmaking techniques and modern technology
Lehigh University in Senegal: Sustainable Building and Community Living
Attempted to develop innovative approaches to building components to improve environmental performance and occupant satisfaction in the West African context
Biomanufacturing: Functional Material Synthesis for Sustainable Energy
Harnessed biomanufacturing techniques to create a photovoltaic cell electrode
Founders Day Performance Experience
Created a new piece fro the presidential inauguration at Founders Day 2015 by using data to enhance digital delay on choral sound and create a visual display
Using National Datasets to Research Early Childhood Development
Established how to efficiently access and analyze large datasets from multi-organization/state databases
Geography of Bias
Took a deep exploration of the geography of bias - how it varies geographically and the underlying reason why
TopO House
Tested the applicability of topology optimization and additive manufacturing technology in fabricating 3D printed small inhabitable structures
Wave Energy Conversion
Developed small wave energy converter designs to explore various strategies for harvesting wave energy and to provide experiential learning opportunities for younger students
Development of Chemical Analysis Tool with 3D Printing
Utilized a 3D printer to conceptualize a prototype of a high spectral resolution infrared spectrometer with a small footprint
Integrating Molecular & Bioengineering to Address Microbial Pathogenesis
Studied strategies to reduce TB and listeriosis through identifying bacteriophage that may be effective in treatment and developed sensors to detect food-borne pathogens
Innovation in Ventilation
Used housing mock-ups, database, and literature research to explore the scope and social context of new ventilation strategies
Wislawa Szymborska Documentary
Produced a short 30-minute film on the life and work of Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska
Student Designed Supplements for ECO 001
Developed a portfolio of video and textual supplements to assist other students in mastering concepts and methods used in ECO 001, Principles of Economics
Nanoparticle Synthesis for Water Purification in the Developing World
Worked on methods involving nanoparticles and sunlight as practical and affordable means for removing pathogens from drinking water
Developed small-scale model of a combined agricultural-hydroponic system to assist PeaceCorps in creating workshops for intended areas of deployed of the system
Prosthetics Group
Designed a simple, low-cost, aesthetically pleasing hand prosthetic for Cambodia
Wind Turbine Design
Designed a low-cost device for pumping water from shallow wells, specifically in an East African context
Designed and constructed a small, transportable structure whose physical form changed in response to human presence
The Phone Home Project
Developed a charging stand that provides augmented functions such as a nighttime clock, weather information, and more
Early Head Start in the Lehigh Valley
Explored and addressed barriers to preventative care among under-served families and their young children in the Lehigh Valley
Assessing Vitamin A Deficiency
Developed a practical and economical device for measuring Vitamin A levels in preschool-aged children
The Mathete Project
Devised approaches to learning that aligned with how modern students live and learn by using digital devices while moving beyond traditional media
Designed and implemented a responsible system for food waste disposal at Lehigh University
Smart Spaces REU Site
Centered on the redesign and redevelopment of Lehigh University Mountaintop Campus into a "smartspace"

Please note that at this time, participation in the Mountaintop program is limited primarily to Lehigh University students, with the following exceptions: 1) students from institutions with which Lehigh has a formal partnership or MOU; 2) students from other area colleges who do not need Lehigh housing; or 3) students participating in an REU experience related to a specific project who are doing their research work at Lehigh over the summer.