i would always sart from first principles.
Rather than looking at work that someone else might have completed already.
that way the design is yours rather than something that you borrowed from someone else or used their project as inspiration for.
be true to yourself
find your own interests
here is where i would start
desert (1) dez' ert) from Latin desertus from deserere (De-, serere, to bind or join),
a. UNinhabited, wasste; untilled, barren, n. A waste, uninhabitated, uncultivated place, especially a waterless and treeless region; solitude dreariness
desert (2) from Latin desertare, (as previous)
v.t. To forsake, to abandon, to quit, to leave, to fail to help, to fail, to abandon the service (army) without leave
desert (3) from Latin deservive, to serve
n. What one deserves, either as a reward or punishment, merit or demerit, (unconditional) merit; state of deserving
from these, the first is the most relevant for your purposes, but there are plenty of ideas/themes within that from which to develop a project.
the others give you a broader understanding of the possible interpretations/misinterpretations of the word "desert" and whilst they may not be immediately relevant could certainly become part of a project.
as far as research centre goes.
is this a purely scientific facility, or looking into the cultures and art that occirs wthin deserts.
look at the nazca lines etc etc
need any more hints then email me through the profile section.