Megan Cartwright

Megan Cartwiright
Megan gained a PhD in Toxicology from the University of Washington and is an experienced scientific and technical writer/editor.

Articles by Megan Cartwright

How to Store Your Concentrated Proteins

Like graduate students, proteins are sensitive to rough handling. This is particularly true when they (the proteins, not the students!) are being concentrated, purified, and stored. We’ve covered the many options out there for concentrating your proteins, along with how to handle protein extracts to keep your proteins safe from degradation. But proteins can degrade…

Our 12 Favorite Science Podcasts
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Our 12 Favorite Science Podcasts

Whether you’re doing a quick Miniprep or labeling hundreds of PCR tubes, listening to science podcasts can help keep you sane, entertained, and informed! With so many podcasts out there, we’ve pulled together this list of twelve great options: 1. 60-Second Science (1 – 2 minutes, updated weekdays) This Scientific American podcast offers quick news about…

Let’s Dish About Soaps: A General Overview of Detergents

Let’s Dish About Soaps: A General Overview of Detergents

What do cell lysis, clean dishes, and gallbladders all have in common? Answer: detergents! These useful chemicals can solubilize fats and other proteins in water. They are the key to applications as varied as lysing cell membranes, extracting DNA, and solubilizing proteins for gel electrophoresis. To help you understand these important chemicals, we provide a…

Ten Non-Chemical Lab Hazards and What They Do to You!

Ten Non-Chemical Lab Hazards and What They Do to You!

Your lab is full of non-chemical hazards that can explode, stab, kill, and – as if that wasn’t enough – bite.  Here’s a list of those hazards to remind you why Environmental Health & Safety exists! 1.  Centrifuges Centrifuges are dangerous, especially when not cared for!  An unmaintained ultracentrifuge imploded in an American lab in…

How to Switch Mentors, Part 3: Actually Switching – Is it Worth it?

Grad school is a big investment of your time, with a lot riding on a successful relationship with your mentor.  Unfortunately, you may have realized that the relationship is not working and resists improvement.  You’ve taken the steps to switch to a new mentor. Now comes the hardest part. What do you actually say to…

How to Switch Mentors, Part 2: Planning and Preparing to Switch

How to Switch Mentors, Part 2: Planning and Preparing to Switch

Much of your success and happiness in grad school depends on an effective relationship with your mentor.  Despite your best efforts, sometimes the first relationship doesn’t work out, and you need to switch mentors to succeed in your program.  But how do you prepare to change mentors mid-PhD? Step 1: Write it all down Before…

How to Switch Mentors, Part 1: Recognizing Red Flags

How to Switch Mentors, Part 1: Recognizing Red Flags

Grad school is a long, hard, long, time-consuming, and–wait for it–long process. A bad relationship with your primary mentor can make it worse, and may even drive you away from a science career.  Unfortunately, you often can’t spot incompatibility until you’ve spent time with a mentor and lab.  Even then, how do you tell the…

A Quick Primer on Enzyme Kinetics

A Quick Primer on Enzyme Kinetics

As biological catalysts, enzymes transform target substrates into products. Enzyme kinetics is the rate of that transformation. By understanding how an enzyme’s behavior is affected, you can figure out how it functions in physiology or fails to function in disease. Now it gets complicated… What Affects an Enzyme’s Kinetics? In the first place, most enzymes…

Three Tips (and Two Tricks) for Using BLAST

Three Tips (and Two Tricks) for Using BLAST

The Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) algorithm is at the heart of a free suite of online resources available through the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).  While most researchers are aware of BLAST as a sequence alignment tool, NCBI’s BLAST suite offers so much more!  I’ll cover in-depth how to use these resources…

How Does 2D Gel Electrophoresis Work?

How Does 2D Gel Electrophoresis Work?

2D gel electrophoresis (2DE) is a key technique for purifying individual proteins from complex samples based on their isoelectric points and molecular weights.  Simple enough in theory, but as the plethora of protocols and articles shows, 2DE demands patience and meticulous optimization.  But whether your samples are human sera or HUVEC lysates, 2DE uses these…

4 Tips for Better Scientific Image Processing in Photoshop

4 Tips for Better Scientific Image Processing in Photoshop

For scientists, Photoshop is a double-edged sword with a dagger nailed to the hilt. Its power in image processing is unrivalled; its ability to gut you with ethics violations is unmatched. An earlier article outlined how to keep your conscience clean when Photoshopping, here we offer four tips that will help walk with the Photoshop balancing…

How Proteases and Protease Inhibitors Work

How Proteases and Protease Inhibitors Work

Proteases: wild, mysterious, destructive.  What are these untamed elements ravaging your precious lysate? How can a drop of EDTA or a smidge of “cocktail” protect that sample, which is gently cradling your hopes, your dreams, and your desire to survive the next lab meeting? Brace yourself for a biochem flashback: in this article, we’ll explain…