Big, challenging, open-ended questions. Multi-disciplinary student teams with space, time and support to start solving them. That’s the Lehigh Mountaintop experience. Lehigh University has welcomed Pratt as a partner in this program for the third time, which—over five years—has supported over 80 student teams.

Mountaintop projects are interdisciplinary deep dives where students, faculty, 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 the projects and envision faculty mentors as partners and co-creators striving to propel their projects forward on the journey towards tangible and sustainable impact:

  • Impact which builds the skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of pioneers and change-makers in a rapidly-changing world;
  • Impact which stands on the shoulders of giants and contributes to the world’s cumulative knowledge base;
  • Impact which advances praxis and delivers solutions to the most compelling challenges facing the world today.

We seek citizens in our community of doers, thinkers, and creators who encourage, critique, and challenge one another on the path to excellence . . . and impact. 

Pratt students may learn about the summer 2018 program and how to apply by contacting Peg Fox, Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs. Read more about the Summer 2017 Lehigh Mountaintop Program.


Mountaintop Summer 2018
Project Abstracts

Beyond Bars: Redesigning Criminal Justice through Theatre and Social Change

Lead Mentor: Karen Beck Pooley
Additional Mentors: Holona Ochs, Bill Whitney

This project will create a theatre piece with the goal of utilizing theatre as a medium for driving legislative and social reforms around the critical issue of mass incarceration. Theatre as a vehicle for social justice reform has the pervasive and powerful ability to change perceptions and mobilize people, and this piece will create awareness as well as drive advocacy.

Breaking the Buchanan Street Wall: Using History to Foster Engagement Between Lehigh Students and a Multiethnic Business District Near Campus

Lead Mentor: Kim Carrell-Smith

This project is constructed to foster a dialogue and connections between the Lehigh University community and the 4 Block International district in south Bethlehem, through an understanding of the stories of local people and participation in their community.

Building Bridges to Living Industrial History

Lead Mentor: Wojtek Misiolek
Other Mentors: Lois Fischer Black, Stephen Cutcliffe, Scott Garrigan

Erwin and Ludwig Loewy changed the world with their engineering innovations. This project will develop an interactive museum exhibit to maximize understanding of the Loewy story, with potential for virtually capturing the exhibit to share with peer institutions and/or adapting it for K-12 STEM education nationwide.

Creating a Biobank Network to Improve Research Capabilities in the Biotech Industry

Lead Mentor: Ana Alexandrescu

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.

Developing a Coding System to Assess Parent-Child Communication Quality in Diverse Contexts

Lead Mentor: Debbie Laible

The goal of this project is to define the processes involved in high-quality communication between mothers and adolescent and pre-adolescent children and to develop a series of coding systems to capture these differences.

Documentary Film on the Impact of Sands Casino on Bethlehem

Lead Mentor: Michael Kramp

This project will research and document the impact of the Sands Casino on the Lehigh Valley community, and in particular, southside Bethlehem. Participants will receive training in preparing and assembling a documentary film.

Human Interaction with Agile Autonomous Robots

Lead Mentor: Nader Motee

In today’s world, autonomous systems increasingly affect our daily lives without us even noticing. As our interaction with these systems increases, so too does the need for comprehensive safety measures. This project will address those concerns as applied to quadcopters, to make sure that human-autonomous system collaborations are safe and robust.

Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Development of the Lehigh River Watershed

Lead Mentor: Alec Bodzin
Other Mentors: David Anastasio, Tom Hammond, Scott Rutzmoser, Farah Vallera

The goal of this project is to create a highly immersive virtual reality learning environment that brings learning to life for learners of all ages to: explore the environment and history of the Lehigh River watershed; participate in lifelike engagement of the subject matter; and, engage in a novel learning environment with experiential learning activities in a highly immersive, simulated real-world environment.

In Search of the Fundamental Cause of River Meandering

Lead Mentors: Dork Sahagian, Panos Diplas

We have been perplexed by the cause of river meandering for generations. This project will identify a universal criterion to explain meandering in general, with a longer-term goal of quantifying the forces at the threshold of instability of various meandering systems.

Lehigh Permaculture Food Forest

Lead Mentor: David Casagrande
Other Mentor: Albert Wurth

This project will construct a permaculture-style food forest garden at the EcoHouse, a Lehigh Live-Learn community, to serve as a living laboratory and interactive classroom to teach students and the Bethlehem community about sustainable food-growing systems.

Low-Cost Diagnostics in Sierra Leone

Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta
Other Mentor: Lori Herz

Extremely inexpensive (2-cent) test strips to screen people for Urinary Tract Infections and Diabetes in Sierra Leone and other developing countries. 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.

Negotiating Privacy Boundaries: the Social and Collective Aspects of Privacy Management

Lead Mentor: Haiyan Jia
Other Mentors: Eric P.S. Baumer, Ting Wang

How can we design technological solutions to understand and facilitate collaborative privacy management online? This project aims at exploring new possibilities for collaborative privacy management, developing new understanding, making new discoveries, and creating new tools.

The Neurogenetics of Creativity

Lead Mentor: Julie Miwa
Other Mentor: Frank Zhang

How can individuals be encouraged and supported to reach their potential? This project explores the genetic basis of learning and behavioral adaptation by investigating specific learning genes, with the goal of identifying a connection between mutant proteins in some individuals and different cognitive functions.

Pop-Up Parklets

Lead Mentor: Karen Beck Pooley

This project builds on the parklet movement which has been tested in cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia, with the goal of developing multiple models of parklets which can be produced for $100 or less. The team will install parklets throughout south Bethlehem to benefit the community and test best practices.

A Revolutionary Mobile Application that Accelerates Language Learning for Children with Cochlear Implants

Lead Mentor: Susan Perry
Other Mentor: R. Michael Burger

This project will focus on developing an accessible mobile application that allows parents, teachers, and speech therapists of children with cochlear implants to better understand what is being heard through the implant.

Squeezing Every Last Drop: Recovering and Valorizing Waste for Sustainability at the Energy-Water Nexus

Lead Mentor: Mark Snyder
Other Mentors: Vince Grassi, Alberto Lamadrid, Jeetain Mittal, Srinivas Rangarajan, Arup SenGupta, Ramesh Shankar

This project will design and develop a sustainable, “silver bullet” solution to the burgeoning global demand for fresh water despite worsening pollution and growing energy restrictions. This new, game-changing paradigm would involve treating wastewater as an economic opportunity.

Thera Metrey: Growing Mushrooms in Sierra Leone

Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta

This project will refine and proliferate 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.

Unusual Vascular Patterning and Bone Growth in the Regenerating Zebrafish Fin

Lead Mentors: M. Kathy Iovine, Linda Lowe-Krentz

This project will investigate the relationship between bone growth and vascular growth, in particular analyzing different strains of the zebrafish, and how its fins grow in both bone and vascular structure. Which drives which? Do the vessels drive growth, or does a requirement for bone growth bring new vessels?