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emilycrow

Emily Crow has a PhD in Life Sciences from Northwestern University. She is currently working as an editor for a scientific publishing company. Her many scientific interests include microbiology, parasitology, and prion diseases.

Articles by emilycrow:

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Screw Up Your RNA extraction

Working with RNA is definitely an acquired skill.  It’s a lot more finicky than working with DNA, and requires careful attention to detail in order to avoid disastrous through RNase contamination.  Here are a few common ways to lose your hard-earned RNA:  1. Don’t keep everything on ice Keeping the temperature of all of your reagents cool is…

22 Aug 2011 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

How to Get Perfect Protein Transfer in Western Blotting

Accurate transfer of proteins from the SDS-PAGE gel to your membrane is an important step in Western blotting.  However, optimizing transfer times is hit-or-miss, and it can take several tries to get a publication-worthy image.  Here are a few hints on how to ensure that your transfer is accurate and complete: Always include a pre-stained…

16 Aug 2011 Protein Expression & Analysis

10 Things You Need to Know About Restriction Enzymes

Restriction enzymes are a basic tool in the molecular biologist’s arsenal.  They’re super easy to use, and virtually essential for cloning and other applications.  Restriction enzymes are also a great example of a perfect “tool” from nature that scientists have co-opted for their own use.  Here are a few fun facts about restriction enzymes that…

15 Aug 2011 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Tips for Constructing Lab Databases in Excel

Good organization is essential for keeping a lab in good running order.  Databases of strains, plasmids, primers, and stocks are useful for keeping track of your materials, and allow your work to be continued easily after you’ve left the lab.  In this article, I’ll talk about a few tools in Microsoft Excel that will make…

08 Aug 2011 Organization & Productivity

5 Ways to Destroy Your Yeast Transformation

Transforming yeast with DNA is a very similar process to transforming E. coli, but with just enough differences to trip you up if you let your attention slip.  Whether you’re doing a yeast two-hybrid screen, or using yeast as a model system, here are a some mistakes to to avoid… 1. Forgetting to add single…

27 Jul 2011 Cells and Model Organisms

How Good Is Your Sterile Technique?

Virtually every research scientist has a use for sterile technique in the lab, whether you study infectious microorganisms, do tissue culture, or use E. coli for cloning. Good sterile technique is a basic lab skill required to avoid contamination of your materials and experiments; and fortunately, the principles are simple to learn and easy to…

28 Apr 2011 Cells and Model Organisms

5 Ways to Destroy Your Western Blot

Western blotting is a common lab technique used to detect and analyze proteins. It also happens to be a really long and complicated procedure, with many steps along the way that are easy to mess up. How do you make sure that your Western blot is successful? Avoid the following five ways to destroy your…

30 Mar 2011 Protein Expression & Analysis

5 ways to destroy your agarose gel

Pouring and running an agarose gel is a simple and routine procedure that you probably learned soon after joining your first lab. A procedure that couldn’t possibly go wrong. Or so you’d think. In fact, there are a surprising number of ways to destroy your agarose gel. Here are some of my favorites: 1. Use…

25 Mar 2011 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Should children ever be in the lab?

Have you ever brought your children to the lab, or found your colleagues’ kids running around unexpectedly?  A research lab is a risky place to bring a kid, considering all the potential hazards.  In the UK, Health and Safety laws explicitly forbid the presence of children in the lab, because it is such a dangerous…

11 Mar 2011 Lab Safety

Review articles: yea or nay?

I’ve written two review articles over the course of my graduate career, and read many many more…but I have to say, I’m not that convinced about their usefulness.  As an author, I don’t really feel like I’m contributing anything new to the field, and as a reader, I find that the questions I have often…

14 Feb 2011 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

New Year’s Resolutions for the Lab

The beginning of a new year is a great chance to make a fresh start in the lab Here are a few of my resolutions for the upcoming year: 1. I will faithfully update my lab notebook every day. No more marathon sessions once a month with a handful of post-it notes and a few…

03 Jan 2011 Personal Development

Ligation optimization

I learned most of my molecular biology skills in the first lab I worked in almost 10 years ago.  I realized recently that I was in desperate need of a refresher course, so I did a little bit of reading to see if I could improve the efficiency of my cloning reactions.  In the process,…

15 Dec 2010 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Choosing a rotation lab

In the US graduate school system, students do “research rotations” in two or more labs to get a feel for the research and lab environment before committing to one lab for their thesis research.  For big schools, it can be hard to know where to start when choosing rotation labs.  Here are a few tips…

01 Dec 2010 PhD Survival

Preparing and Presenting a Journal Club

Journal clubs are a great time to catch up on current literature in your field, but when prepared poorly or presented hastily, they can often lead to confusion.  Here are some simple guidelines for presenting a clear, concise paper summary. 1. Provide background Before you dive in to the data, spend a few minutes talking…

12 Nov 2010 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Lab, and Life, Lessons From the Treadmill

Going back to running to de-stress has taught Emily some surprisingly useful things about life and the lab.

02 Nov 2010 Personal Development

Product Review: Snap i.d. Rapid Western blotting system

My lab recently purchased the Snap i.d. rapid Western blotting system from Millipore, and it has quickly become my favorite piece of lab equipment. The standard Western blotting procedure involves blocking for thirty minutes or more, incubating in primary antibody for at least an hour, and incubating in secondary antibody for an additional hour, interspersed with multiple wash…

01 Oct 2010 Protein Expression & Analysis

Your No.1 Time Management Lesson: Just Say No

Research is a challenging field that demands a tremendous amount of skill and dedication.  We are required to be creative but logical, independent but team players, innovative but grounded, proliferative but focused.  This balancing act requires not only a very broad set of skills and talents, but also the ability to manage it all with…

07 Sep 2010 Organization & Productivity

Tiny, Tragic Lab Pleasures

John’s comment on Jode’s recent article here on Bitesize Bio: “Good idea on marking the rotor for 3 tubes Jode. One of those tiny (perhaps tragic) pleasures is when you drop the 3 tubes in quickly and get in spaced perfectly first time. Because usually its drop them in and then move one tube 1…

06 Aug 2010 Fun Stuff

The Art of PCR Primer Design

Primer design can sometimes feel like more of an art than a science, and designing the best primer can significantly affect the success or failure of your experiments.  Here are a few tips on optimizing primer design for several different applications: PCR amplification/cloning One of the most common primer-based applications is cloning.  The desired amplicon…

21 Jul 2010 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

10 Great Things About Being a Graduate Student in the Summer

Being in graduate school can be tough – deadlines, professors, and experiments, can get you down.  But there are a lot of silver linings, too.   Here are a few of my favorite things about being a grad student this summer: Since it stays light so much later, I don’t mind working a few more hours;…

18 Jun 2010 PhD Survival