I am currently responsible for organizing the data and samples in the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab at Howard University into a comprehensive information systems. My initial approach towards this task was to purchase through funding a Barcoding system, specifically, one from WASP Barcode Technologies as I believe in order to form a comprehensive Information System that incorporates the data available in the Cobb Research Lab I will need to barcode each individual bone, to make identification of each bone easier and also to eliminate human errors such as accidentally leaving one person’s femur with another person’s skeleton. Also, I intended to incorporate in the data, the samples (soil, DNA, 3D scan) available on each individual skeleton.

However, despite the various grants we applied for, we have yet to receive funding to execute this plan. As a result, I decided to build my very own Barcoding Mobile Application and donate it to the Cobb Research Lab.


The vision at the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory emphasizes allowing biological anthropology to take the lead in expanding the frontiers of an inclusive integrative anthropologic mindset into the broad dimensions of science. Howard University has had a long commitment to understanding the societal implications of science and we do not expect to waiver from this now.

The laboratory is a unique and priceless resource for research on the human skeletal and bio-archaeological collections housed therein. The important collections of the Cobb Research Laboratory (CRL) are the Cobb Collection and the New York African Burial Ground. In addition, we have recently been granted access to the BADU collection.

The Cobb Collection is unique in that it is the only skeletal collection residing at a historically black college/ university (HBCU) and lends itself to novel insights about the lives and deaths of Americans living in the Washington, D.C. area during that time.

The New York African Burial Ground (NYABG) Collection at the CRL consists of soil and bioskeletal samples from the NYABG Project. This project unearthed 419 skeletons and related artifacts from a previously unknown and unmarked grave site in Manhattan, NY in 1991. Bioarchaelogists confirmed that these individuals were in fact enslaved Africans and African Americans from the 17th and 18th century. This discovery was deemed significant, so much so that the burial site has been commemorated as a National Monument and protected by the United States National Park Service.

We are the only academic institution in the world with 400 years of genomic samples on peoples of African descent and with such great potential for illumination of the African American past.

What it does?

The W. Montague Cobb Collection Database Mobile App is a barcoding application that will be able to scan barcodes attached to the bones and various samples available in the Cobb Research Lab and link the Barcode scan to all the available data on that individual to produce a retrievable information systems.

How this will benefit The Research Lab:

  1. Barcoding of Individual Bones.
    a) Allows for easy identification of individual bones b) Elimination of human error.

2.Formation of the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab Information Systems where existing data will be added to each individual bone: a)Bio sketch. b) 3D Imagery. c) Associated Microbial Samples. d) Associated Soil Samples. e) Ongoing and finished research that involved the individual bone. f) DNA

  1. Easy Easy access to data: a) Data will be sharable. b) Data will be secure. c) All the information available on a particular individual for the purpose of research is accessible from one location. d) Overall, the progress made by the lab can be tracked.

How I built it

Using Java and Android SDK.

Challenges I ran into

I still need to figure out how to be able to link existing data in SQL language to the barcoding application.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

This is the first code I have ever written.

What I learned


What's next for The W. Montague Cobb Collection Database

This application will hopefully be fully operateable in May, so that the barcoding can be done over the Summer. Once this is done, I hope to be able to apply projective statistical methods to the information available through to the app to project prevalence and risk factors for a variety of diseases that afflicted the W. Montague Cobb Collection individuals. For eg. Type 2 diabetes.

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