Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Research Sponsor

Adam W. Smith

First Reader

Hazel A. Barton

Second Reader

Leah Shriver


Visible light spectroscopy is a commonly used technique for measuring the growth of bacterial cultures, and growth curves provide broadly important data. However, the equipment and resources required for these experiments has been restricted to higher education and industry due to high cost and sophistication. We have previously reported on an inexpensive, 3D-printable photospectrometer called the SpecPhone. This device utilizes an iPhone as the camera, along with several other, inexpensive additions to make a fully functional spectrometer. Here, the application of the SpecPhone is expanded to the quantification of actively dividing E. coli cultures. Two protocols have been developed; one describes a culture grown in a beaker and the second is a downsized culture grown entirely in a plastic cuvette. These protocols provide hands-on teaching opportunities for the use of spectroscopy to measure bacterial growth, and to do so in educational situations that lack the resources of a higher learning institution or industry.