Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

Automated Microorganism Detector

  • Photo: Shelley Dormont ‘11
    Photo: Shelley Dormont ‘11

Will Hardy, Marisol Frausto-Martinez, Jessilyn Massey and Heather Petty
Sponsor: Gerald Wade, Coordinator of Science Facilities and Equipment
Steven Alexander, Associate Professor of Physics

In this King Creativity project, we are continuing work started last year concerning an automated microorganism detector with an interdisciplinary team. Our previous success in building a functional device and detecting the growth of E. coli, based on documentation from an original Honeywell project, motivates our continued effort. Maintaining the same foundational ideas, background information, and eventual goals, we will expand upon our results and investigate two central facets of our established method: the way in which bacterial growth causes a change over time in the voltage measured across the sensing electrodes inside our culture flasks, as well as any defining and unique characteristics of the voltage-versus-time growth curve for each species of bacteria we test. Furthermore, we want to discover whether our equipment and methods are capable of detecting unique signatures for individual species of bacteria, which would confirm this device’s usefulness and suitability for a hospital environment. We hope this year’s research will yield a new understanding of the mechanism responsible for our results and a novel method of identifying bacteria in solution. These conclusions may justify clinical trials of our apparatus in a local hospital and could also add to the existing body of knowledge regarding the electrochemistry of bacteria.