Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

Automated Microorganism Detector

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    Left to Right: Marisol Frausto-Martinez and Tran Le (not pictured: Eric Godat, Jessilyn Massey, and Heather Petty)

Marisol Frausto-Martinez, Eric Godat, Tran Le, Jessilyn Massey, and Heather Petty
Sponsor: Gerald Wade, Coordinator of Science Facilities and Equipment

Currently, the food industry has a set of standards for the minimal amount of bacteria that can be present in food before it is available to the public. Although quicker methods for detecting and quantifying bacteria have developed in the food industry over the years, we believe improvements can still be made by integrating the process of detecting the number of species in a product and identifying the species itself. 

With the use of an apparatus consisting of an incubator, an agitation system, and an electronic system that acquires voltage data, we gathered voltage-time curves from samples of S. epidermidis, K. pneumoniae, E. coli, ground beef, shrimp, milk, and black pepper. In addition, we created enough samples for 247 trials, having about 200 successful trials over the fall and spring semester. Throughout the year, there were some problems with our apparatus and it cost us some time with attaining results, but we were on schedule for the majority of the time. 

We are currently continuing to work with unique signature curves and are working towards attaining significant colony counts per a given dilution. In addition, we are continuing to work on attaining consistent results and interpreting the presence of multiple bacteria in samples.