Home » Grand Challenge for Sem 2

Grand Challenge for Sem 2

Grand Challenge Project

Our Grand Challenge questions for both the Evolution and Revolution tracks have been selected by the FOS teaching team. This Semester the questions are more specific, and more closely aligned with the units we are offering. We hope you enjoy working on them, and we look forward to seeing the creative, and intelligent solutions you and your team develop!

Here are the questions for the Our two Foundations of Science themes. Your team will pick one of the three questions and develop it into a full research proposal or innovation that will be presented in a poster during our poster fair on Monday April 25, between 1PM and 4:30PM.



(1) How would you use biogeographic theory to predict the course of a cataclysmic mass extinction event - that is, who would be the winners and who the losers?.   Make your predictions in the context of a particular cause of mass extinction.  How would the decimation, or loss of keystone ecological function due to ‘rarity’, affect future diversification?

 (2) The role of historical contingency is a familiar concept in thinking about the evolution of animal form and function of life, but it is also something to think about in the evolution of the most fundamental biochemical processes.   Was it inevitable that DNA (or RNA) would succeed as the replicable molecule that is the foundation of all biological evolution that we know about?   And that proteins, encoded by the DNA sequence, would be the agents of catalysis, movement and structure?   Is it possible that there is life on earth that is not based on DNA/RNA and proteins? How would you find it?  How would you find such life on other planets?

 (3) Given the plunging costs of DNA sequencing, and improvements in genetic engineering, propose a novel strategy for using one or both of these technologies in the service of conservation.



i). Assess the current status of one or more aspects of power generation and/or distribution in terms of efficiency and stability, and suggest one or more possible improvements to lessen impacts on global climate

 ii). How can network science be applied to monitor, assess or counter one of the consequences of climate change and/or global warming?

 iii). Propose a way to assess and enhance the energy efficiency of a large urban area or region, and the specific impacts this will have on power usage and global warming. 

Your teams have been assigned, and you should soon be receiving an email from the TeamMates program with more details about your team members.


The timeline for the project is as follows:

1). March 30-April 12 – meet with your team, and brainstorm about your project. Come up with a list of potential topics that you will work on with your group. You should prepare an outline and short description of a few possible projects you would work on before our first Grand Challenge class on April 12.

2). By our first plenary class on April 12, we will all meet at the TCT auditorium at our usual time of 2:30PM. You will sit with your team members, and present your idea to one or two other teams, and our instructors and receive feedback. A refined abstract and outline of your project will be due by Wednesday April 13 to give the instructors time to study them before consultations.

3). On our second Grand Challenge class period on April 15, the teaching team will be available for more detailed consultations in our regular classrooms. Please circulate among the teaching team and pitch your ideas, and get more specific recommendations and suggestions from the instructors.

4). In the period from April 15-April 21, you will develop a poster to be submitted on Canvas by midnight on Thursday April 21 for us to print the poster (later posters will require you to print them). This procedure will work as it did last semester, although we will have a slightly revised grading rubric to be released.

5). The Grand Challenge Poster Fair will be scheduled for Monday, April 25, between 1PM and 4:30PM in the Multipurpose Hall (i.e. gym). Like last time we will divide the class into two groups and so your poster will be scheduled either between 1PM-2:30PM, or 3:00PM to 4:30PM. Instructors will circulate and you will have 8-10 minutes to present a briefing to the instructors.

Leave a comment