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Bioscience Mastery

The How and Why of Limit of Detection

When developing an assay, whether it is for basic research or for use in diagnostics, you will often be asked about your assay’s sensitivity. This is perhaps one of the most important performance characteristics you can determine for an assay, and in regulated work, such as in vitro diagnostic (IVD) development and clinical diagnostics, it…

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Use ddRAD-seq to Study Non-Model Organisms

Reduced-representation genome sequencing has been one of the most important advances in the last several years for enabling massively parallel genotyping of organisms for which there is no reference-grade genome assembly. An implementation of the approach known as ddRAD-seq, first conceived in the Hoekstra lab at Harvard, has been widely adopted by the plant and…

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How Scientific Researchers Can Write Effective Emails

Have you ever found yourself wondering why your emails don’t get quite the response you expect? Or no response at all? It is very easy to overlook the importance of constructing clear and concise emails that deliver the right message. In this article, we’ll cover key aspects of emails for your purposes as a scientist.…

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Struggles of a Life Scientist

Working late nights or weekends in the lab—we’ve all been there. Why isn’t your cell culture considerate enough to get to exponential phase during normal business hours, anyway? Maybe you just need utter peace and quiet while you pipette hundreds of wells worth of stinky beta-mercaptoethanol. Or perhaps you’re using your wealth of microbiology knowledge…

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What to Expect When Working with a Scientific Recruiter

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if someone helped you step-by-step through your job search? A good recruiter does exactly that! Recruiters provide value to job-seekers by reviewing resumes, finding jobs that may be a good fit, and providing interview tips. But how does that process work? In this article we’ll cover…

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How to Marie Kondo Your Laboratory

Does your laboratory resemble the nest of an overly enthusiastic laboratory rat that went on a scavenger hunt and squirrelled away all that it has found? Do you find yourself playing Jenga with stacks of Petri dishes and freezer boxes? Have you ever attempted to decipher the meaning of the mysterious string of numbers on…

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Why Early Career Scientists Should Care about Mentoring Undergraduate Students

Let’s be honest: the mentoring of undergraduate students is sometimes the lowest on the list of priorities for a busy postdoctoral research fellow. Amidst experiments, research progress meetings, reviewing of literature, manuscript writing, grant applications, and convincing your PI to let you attend that conference in Hawaii, your undergraduate charges may be just mere afterthoughts.…

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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…

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Four Free and Easy-To-Use Online Primer Design Tools

Designing and running PCR reactions in the lab has become so commonplace that the number of primer design tools available can be a bit overwhelming for a beginner (or even an experienced molecular biologist!). Below are four of my favorite online programs available to make primer design quick, easy, and effective. A quick note before…

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How to Reconcile Being an “Aspie” and a Scientist

I received a very late diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, when I was already twenty. Before that, I was ashamed of my “social awkwardness”, but my passion for life sciences and research relieved me of my sorrow. After I learned about my condition, I was able to self-accept and be proud of myself (and continued to…

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10 Steps to Enjoying Fieldwork for Sedentary Scientists

Note: Physically competent field scientists who find fieldwork a breeze may scoff at the suggestions here As a bench scientist whose only form of physical exercise in the laboratory is pipetting, I vividly remember my first fieldtrip to the wilderness. It was a trip to an island off the coast of Singapore to collect water…

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Scientific Illustrations Part I: Schematics and Cartoons

Biologists have a long tradition of drawing specimens as a form of data collection before the invention of the camera. The ability to present information in the form of illustrations is an important but often understated skill in a scientist’s toolkit. Scientific illustrations in publications run the gamut from schematics, 3D models, cartoons, and even…

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Lab Hacks: Tips to Save You Money and Time

Not every lab has the cash to shell out on fancy equipment. And let’s face it, in today’s climate of budget cuts, even the baller labs are looking for ways to be more frugal. Years of lab work has taught me a thing or two on how to make ends meet. So, if you’ve found…

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Lab Aches and How to Avoid Them

Pipetting all day? Scrolling and scrolling through Excel columns trying to make sense of your data? Spending hours at the microscope because your boss wants Nature-worthy pictures? It’s not uncommon that performing lab work forces you into unhealthy postures, and after a day at work your spine begs for mercy. How Your Posture Suffers on…

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Hot Tips for Creating a Scientific Special Interest Group at Your Institute

Universities are often organized by faculties, colleges, schools, and/or departments. So, as an academic, you often work closely with colleagues studying similar subject areas. A common interest, however, often transcends the boundaries of this organizational structure. Enter scientific special interest groups. What Are Scientific Special Interest Groups? Scientific special interest groups are member-led initiatives within…

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