Project Description

MOTE Marine Laboratory

Forensic Laboratory Solution


Mote Laboratory & Aquarium of Sarasota, FL is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that employs scientists, explorers, and advocates for marine conservation. Dr. Dana Wetzel, of the Environmental Laboratory of Forensics, conducts research to develop and employ methods to determine the age of baleen whales. As baleen whales do not have teeth, scientists must instead use a new method to determine the age of a whale by inspecting the eye with the help of indigenous people. Dr. Wetzel’s team of over 100 research scientists travel thousands of miles away to conduct this research in the Arctic.

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The Mote Environmental Laboratory of Forensics operates in a unique field, which brings about several specific challenges. From thousands of miles away, field researchers needed an efficient way to perform field analysis, and store collected pictures, forms, and data. As internet connection is sparse in the field, the information had to be collected and stored offline to be synced with the database back in the laboratory.

The Forensics Laboratory used a sea of spreadsheets to calculate and organize complex data, requiring time-consuming manual aggregation of massive amounts of data. A solution was sought to enter, calculate, organize and display results to save time and increase accuracy. In addition to running analyses, the scientists needed an efficient system manage its inventory of thousands of physical samples, batches, analytes, standards, and solvents. The Forensics Laboratory desired a system able to generate, print, and scan barcodes for each item to identify specific information.

The Process

A Solutions Consultant visited The Mote Environmental Laboratory of Forensics to identify workflows and challenges affecting operation. After the discovery process, DocuWrx compiled a detailed and itemized quote with hard numbers free of charge or obligation to meet specific needs and goals. Once the proposal was accepted, a Solutions Architect carefully laid out the design of the solution. Consulting with the Forensics Laboratory along the way, the framework for the tailored solution was created.

After approval of the design, DocuWrx developers started the actual building process. Employing the Agile Development Method throughout the process provided adaptive planning and development. The  Forensics Laboratory was able to view and test the solution during development, and offered valuable feedback.

With the build process complete, the Solutions Architect met with the Forensics Laboratory again prior to launch. DocuWrx provided an overview of the finished solution, and demonstrated how specific workflows and functions were accomplished. Making sure the solution satisfied the requirements, the solution was fully implemented. After launch, a designated Account Manager was assigned to provide continual support.


Using mobile devices anywhere in the world, field researchers are able to prepare forms and documents. Once in the field, they are able to take samples, record data, and take pictures. Without internet connection everything is stored on the device, which is later synced to the Forensic Laboratory’s database. As information is organized efficiently during collection, it is automatically organized in the database for easy access by scientists in Florida.

Of course, processing collected information into meaningful data is at the heart of the operation. Taking into account everything from instrument calibrations, protocols, methods, revisions, complex formulas, the Forensics Laboratory now has a solution to take a significant burden off the scientists. Replacing pre-existing spreadsheets for data calculation and storage was a major benefit. Using collected and entered data, the database is able to accurately perform complex calculations taking into account several variables. This takes a burden off the scientists, enabling them to carry on to the next task quickly.

The solution is also able to track different instrument calibrations adding in specific protocols, methods, and revisions. It then is able to automatically run an analysis, and store the resulting data in a clear way that can be accessed by doing a query in any way across a data set. The lab now has an improved way to handle and share an unlimited amount of information, documents, and reports.

Thousands of physical inventory items are now kept in an organized and efficient way. The solution has the ability to generate, print, and scan 1D and 2D barcodes, not only to identify a sample and description, but also provide a physical inventory location. These bar codes are also used to track batches, standards, solvents and more. With better tracking, storing, and identification, the Forensic Laboratory’s workflow is improved.

This project proved to be a great test to the versatility of a FileMaker solution. DocuWrx is pleased to have effectively taken on these challenges, and exceed expectations. As a result, The Mote Environmental Laboratory of Forensics now enjoys quicker and more mobile data collection, faster and organized information sharing, improved data processing, and effortless inventory management.

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