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: firstname.lastname@example.org
List of Projects and Descriptions
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Get Inspired! Past Mountaintop Projects
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.