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Physics
Completed Project

Microcontrollers as an Effective Data Collection Tool for the Study of Microorganisms

Christine Silveira, Vassar College ’17 and Prof. Jenny Magnes
This summer the Vassar Applied Optics Lab compared the functionality of different microcontrollers in order to build a portable data collection device. This device will be used in the field to study the thrashing frequencies of microorganisms, particularly C. elegans. An Arduino microcontroller was used to build the device complete with a laser and light sensor to get preliminary readings on microorganism samples in the field. This device uses the diffraction of the coherent light on each sample to give intensity readings of the light, which is used to create a diffraction pattern for each sample. While the light sensor used has a large error, methods are being researched to improve the data collection and processing. These methods include averaging the readings, taking fewer readings, or using a different type of light sensor. The device is also designed to minimize the light inside the chamber and to optimize the diffraction of the sample. This is a continuation of previous work done to study the C. elegans movement.