Collaborative Research: FORABOT: An Autonomous and Accessible System for Sorting Foraminifera
Edgar J Lobaton
Project runs from 01/01/2019 to 12/31/2021
Paleoceanography, among other research fields, depends crucially on ubiquitous ocean dwelling single celled organisms called foraminifera. Undergraduate workers are often employed to pick several thousands of specimens from ocean sediments for each study. Depending on deposition rates and abundance of the species, such manual processing can become tediously repetitive with little intellectual motivation for the undergraduate workers, and time and cost-prohibitive for research scientists. The proposed project aims to develop a completely autonomous system for visual sorting of foraminifera, which is accessible to the scientific community. This system will be compatible with existing off-the-shelf microscopes, it will make use of microfluidics in order to facilitate the transport of the samples from a container to their sorted receptacles, and will utilize machine learning for recognition. These tools will be made available to the entire scientific community, and aim to keep the fabrication cost under three thousand dollars.