Vicki did her PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh. She had been working as a postdoc in several Russel group UK universities while honing her skills in scientific and creative writing. She is now a Technical Officer at the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, and pen for hire. Check out my proudest achievement, which may be useful for you: The BiteSizeBio Guide for Protein expression

Articles by Vicki Doronina

What Can Electron Microscopy Do for You?

What Can Electron Microscopy Do for You?

The electron microscope (EM) – where electrons, rather than photons, make the image – fell out of fashion for a while, but it has come back refreshed. Modern electron microscopes cost less, use less electricity, and are generally easier to maintain than the older models, so it is likely that you can get your hands on one. Read on to learn more about this technique, and how to implement it into your research.

Should You Switch from Wet to Dried Blood Samples?

Should You Switch from Wet to Dried Blood Samples?

A Spot of History Most of the biomedical methods used started as a curiosity. Then the one-off gains a limited use, the technology then progresses until its use becomes widespread. Just think about the arch from the curious polished glass spheres, used by Antony Levnhook to look at animalcules, to modern microscopes. The same story…

How to Set up Your Elution Experiment

How to Set up Your Elution Experiment

What do DNA mini preps and protein immunoprecipitation experiments have in common? They start differently, but they end with the same, critical stage – elution. But what exactly is elution, and what is the point? The Terminology First, let’s start with some basic terminology: Elution – extracting one material from another by washing with a…

An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment:  What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment: What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

In theory, the greenhouse is a controlled laboratory environment where only the organisms you’ve introduced live. But in practice, just as other laboratory environments suffer from ‘unwelcomed guests’ (e.g. contamination and infestation), greenhouses are not always as sterile as you would like. To avoid any experimental issues, you have to be vigilant about these pesky…

Greenhouse Maintenance: Keeping Your (Green) Laboratory Clean

Greenhouse Maintenance: Keeping Your (Green) Laboratory Clean

Cleaning the lab is one of the hardest jobs because it’s dull and repetitive. However, nobody in their sound scientific mind would argue that this can be avoided. Dust accumulates bugs, bacteriophages, and RNAses that can stray into your experiment and ruin it. Old boxes piling up is a fire hazard. Anybody who refuses to…

The Rites of Passage: Subculturing Microorganisms

The Rites of Passage: Subculturing Microorganisms

Anyone who has worked with microorganisms, be it bacteria or yeast, is familiar with subculturing – the act of transferring some cells from a previous culture to a fresh growth medium. You do it either to reset the growth phase of your culture or to increase the biomass for downstream experiments. But there’s more to…

RNAseq Library Preparation: From Cells to cDNA

RNAseq Library Preparation: From Cells to cDNA

RNAseq libraries, also called whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing libraries, provide a snapshot of cellular processes. This allows the researcher to gain information regarding changes in transcriptome in response to environmental changes, during disease, or after a drug application. RNAseq libraries also allow for the detection of mRNA splicing variants and SNPs. RNAseq libraries have virtually…

Laser in a droplet

Laser in a droplet

When you hear about a laser, you likely imagine a medium-size apparatus with a light beam coming out of it, not a bacterium in a drop of liquid. Well, Turkish and British scientists went beyond ordinary imagination – they expressed a fluorescent protein in E.coli and suspended live bacteria in droplets. Illuminated droplets served as…

To Sonicator and Beyond – Large Cell Volume Lysis Methods

To Sonicator and Beyond – Large Cell Volume Lysis Methods

At some point you have to leave small-scale cell lysis and move to large culture volumes for experiments currently in vogue, be it microarrays, total RNA libraries, or large-scale pull-downs for interactome or metabolome analysis. And at this point, you have to change your lysis method from an on-the-bench in eppendorfs to one capable of…

Breaking the Wall: How to Make Protoplasts

Breaking the Wall: How to Make Protoplasts

Non-mammalian cells, including bacteria, fungi, and plant cells, have a cell wall that maintains the shape of the cell. These cell walls are particularly strong, due to their composition as they contain polymers that create a rigid sphere around the vulnerable cytoplasm contained inside the plasma membrane. In bacteria, the cell wall includes several layers…

4 Important Considerations for Your Cell Lysis

4 Important Considerations for Your Cell Lysis

You’ve cultured your cells and completed your treatments, now it’s time to harvest them and proceed to the downstream effects. Cell lysis is the crucial stage that determines if your experiment has a chance of producing the data that you have been waiting for. Part of the starting biological material is inevitably lost on each…

Fishing for Kinases with Multiplex Inhibitor Bead Assays

Fishing for Kinases with Multiplex Inhibitor Bead Assays

There is something about kinases that resemble ghosts. Their effects reveal their presence, but they can be difficult to catch. With a low abundance of hundreds or even tens of molecules per cell, they are difficult to detect using conventional methods such as Western blotting or mass spectrometry (MS). However, you will need to detect…

Top Five Methods for Primary Antibody Labeling

Top Five Methods for Primary Antibody Labeling

In any application that uses antibodies for signal detection (e.g., Western blotting, ELISA, immunohistochemistry, or FACS), there are two approaches to antibody labeling: direct and indirect labeling. Standard Western blotting uses indirect labeling because you use a primary antibody to detect the target antigen, followed by a secondary antibody to which a detection molecule is…

Nil by Mouth: Evolution from the Glass Pipette to the Robot

Nil by Mouth: Evolution from the Glass Pipette to the Robot

If you compare a biologist with a cook and the lab with the kitchen, the pipette will be analogous to the most important cooking tool – the knife. But while the knife’s design has remained more or less the same since man moved from stone to metal some five to twelve thousand years ago, laboratory…

Why Isn’t My Culture Growing?  The S-Curve Explained

Why Isn’t My Culture Growing? The S-Curve Explained

Whether you work with human cell lines or microbes, their growth is governed by the same principles. I invite you to learn about something that lies at the base of any work with cell culture, whether cells have circular or linear chromosomes: the S-curve of the population growth. The length of each phase depends on…

The Sandwich Technique: How to Dish Out Critique

The Sandwich Technique: How to Dish Out Critique

How time flies. One day you are giving your first presentation in front of your fellow students, seemingly the next you are listening to a presentation by your own student. And frankly, the talk is awful. It’s twice the time limit, the student weaves around the topic as a drunken sailor, and she acknowledges her…

Setting up a Fermentation or Perpetuum Mobile Cell Culture

Setting up a Fermentation or Perpetuum Mobile Cell Culture

Some names are confusing. For example, ant-lion is not an ant – or a lion. Likewise, fermentation in the scientific sense does not involve using a ferment or brewing beer. In science, fermentation is the setting up of a long-term culture of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells. Fermentation is invaluable in providing a steady flow of…

How to Use Proteases to Purposefully Digest Proteins

How to Use Proteases to Purposefully Digest Proteins

In this article I will not talk about ‘wild’ proteases, which destroy cellular proteins in your lysates like wolves destroy sheep. Instead, I’ll be talking about the shepherd dog proteases—purified, tame and useful to digest proteins your research. In Protein Research and Crystallization Several programs can predict your protein domains. However, we wet biologists know…

How to Become a Medical Writer

How to Become a Medical Writer

If there is one profession that benefited from globalization, it is the medical writer. While the university research groups shrink and global biomedical companies fire their research stuff, medical writing companies are expanding, providing stable jobs with good salaries. The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) reported in 2011 that the median salary of an experienced…

How to Express Proteins Across Kingdoms:  Prokaryotes vs Eukaryotes

How to Express Proteins Across Kingdoms: Prokaryotes vs Eukaryotes

In the sci-fi novel Terminal World by Alistair Reynolds, a planet consists of zones with defined characteristics of matter interactions on a subatomic level. These conditions permit different levels of technology sophistication in various zones. For example, in the “Steamville zone” nothing more complicated than steam engines works – electronic schemes fuse irreversibly. Something like…

The Lab Detective: Finding the Right Blot Detection Method

The Lab Detective: Finding the Right Blot Detection Method

When it comes to registering the signal output of your Southern/Northern/Western/probe hybridization, you are spoilt for choice these days. You can go all retro and use X-ray film. You can go digital and use a phosphorimager. Finally, you can go fluorescent and use a fluorescence detector. So, what are the pros and cons of each…

How Sweet is Your Protein: Using Enzymes to Study Glycosylation

How Sweet is Your Protein: Using Enzymes to Study Glycosylation

Most eukaryotic proteins exist as several isoforms, differing in posttranslational modifications, which allows them to perform slightly different functions or the same function under slightly different conditions. A common posttranslational modification of proteins is glycosylation.

How to Deal with Stress of a Research Project Examination

How to Deal with Stress of a Research Project Examination

A scientist’s life is full of stress. An experiment is not working— stress, experiment working but producing results opposite to the previous one— stress, somebody using the last of the reagent you need now— more stress. But these are unexpected stresses, small and overcome easily. The ‘planned stresses’ such as meetings with your supervisor or…