Having a Family in Grad School

By Omonse Talton | August 16, 2017

The question that many graduate students have is “can I have it all?” A successful, productive PhD and marriage? And kids too? There is no doubt that having a family in grad school takes away your focus for a while especially around the time your baby is born, but it can also increase your productivity.…

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Microsoft Excel Can Help You Set Up Multi-Well Plates

By Abhijit Bakre | August 16, 2017

When you are a newbie to qPCR or qRT-PCR, it is quite common to write everything down in your lab notebook and then tediously mark off reagents or samples as you add them. People typically start with a master mix for items you add to multiple samples such as (Mg2+, dNTPs, 10X PCR buffer, additives,…

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Those Site-Specific Recombinases in Your Tool Kit

By Ayushi Sood | August 14, 2017

Most of us are aware of genetic engineering systems like Cre-Lox, TALENs, Zinc finger systems, and of course, CRISPR-Cas9.  These are all examples of CSSR- Conservative Site-Specific Recombination. We use these site specific recombinases routinely, but do we really know about them or what the future hold for these tools? It turns out that CSSR…

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How to Genotype T-DNA Insertion Mutants in Arabidopsis

By Arif Ashraf | August 10, 2017

If you are a plant biologist and working with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, undoubtedly you are a great fan of The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR).   You also probably order seeds/materials from the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC), or request them from fellow scientists. Of course, seeds are one of the basic materials you…

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Intercalating Dyes or Fluorescent Probes For RT-qPCR?

By Utibe Bickham-Wright | August 3, 2017

The unique feature of real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is that it associates the amplification of your target gene with a fluorescent signal in a quantifiable manner. Presently, there are numerous fluorescent tool kits/methods to consider when designing your RT-qPCR experiment. However, the two major categories to choose from are fluorescent intercalating dyes and…

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Crash Course in Microbial Identification

By Dr. Karen O'Hanlon Cohrt | July 27, 2017

Welcome to this crash course in microbial identification methods! Here, you will get an overview of the traditional and modern methods available for the identification of bacteria, yeast or filamentous fungi to the species level. Species level identification allows you to discriminate confidently between two species from the same genus, something that is often essential in the treatment of infectious…

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Defend Science Funding! A Brief Guide

By Adrienne Huntress | July 26, 2017

With the scientific community potentially facing deep cuts to grant-awarding agencies, like the NIH, advocacy for funding research efforts has been re-ignited. Not only does science funding provide financial support for academic and government scientists, it fuels product development and collaboration opportunities for scientists in industry and scientists abroad. Engaging in the advocacy process and…

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Maxam-Gilbert Sequencing: What Was It, and Why It Isn’t Anymore

By Cindy Duarte Castelão | July 26, 2017

In the mid-1970s, two methods were developed for directly sequencing DNA: the Maxam-Gilbert sequencing (or chemical sequencing) method and the Sanger chain-termination method. Indeed, in 1980, both Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger were awarded The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids”. Actually, each got a…

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Applying Your MALDI Matrix Like a Boss

By Lakshini Mendis | July 25, 2017

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (or simply, MALDI) is a type of mass spectrometry method. If you are new to mass spectrometry, check out our excellent primers, titled How Does Mass Spec Work and Get Out of Western Blot Hell: An intro to Mass Spec. Basically, however, mass spectrometry allows you to measure, sort, and quantify small…

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4 Tips for a Successful Postdoctoral Fellowship Application

By Ewout JN Groen | July 24, 2017

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself as a postdoc is to get a personal postdoctoral fellowship. Your own funding covers your salary and (often) some research costs as well. As such, you will have a degree of independence that you would not have otherwise. Also, being able to show that you…

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