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Jason Erk

Jason holds a BS in Biochemistry and is a faculty research assistant at an Oregon university. While current research efforts span the fields of behavior, neuroscience, and molecular biology, he manages copious amounts of data and freezers full of samples.

Articles by Jason Erk:

Share Your Samples at a Reagent Repository

Have you got a plasmid that others are begging to use? Perhaps your cell line is in high demand? We’ll show how using a repository can take the hassle out of sharing your reagents.

People sharing food around a table showing benefits of sharing resources
26 Mar 2020 Organization and Productivity

Reduce, Reuse, Refine Your Animal Model Resources with the ‘3Rs’

Russell and Burch first described the ‘3Rs’ concept in 1959. It acknowledges that animals are a valuable resource through which great discoveries can be made, but it is up to you to use them ethically and judiciously. The ultimate benefit is that people and animals will be able to live longer, happier, healthier lives! So…

Happy Lab Mice
06 Feb 2019 Cells and Model Organisms

From Cells to Scope: Chamber Slide Immunochemistry

Immunolabeling is the tried-and-true immunochemistry method of getting the stain you want onto the molecular target you want. Whether that target is contained within a large region of tissue (immunohistochemistry) or inside a single cell (immunocytochemistry), the ability to accurately label large numbers of samples will simplify your workflow and help you to achieve excellent…

01 Nov 2017 Microscopy and Imaging

Amplify Your PCR Success with the Right PCR Instrument!

Nowadays, almost every biology lab has a PCR instrument — from portable, battery-operated machines, to “PCR-by-water baths”, do-it-yourself PCR, or familiar vendor packages, including those with real-time quantification or droplet digital capabilities, DNA amplification depends on a robust thermal cycler. If you are looking to upgrade, add to, or even replace the lab’s current PCR…

21 Sep 2017 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

How to be an Excellent Scientific Leader

It’s often said that great leaders have a knack for bringing out the best in those that follow. In turn, followers enjoy the work they do and will take the initiative to soar far above and beyond what is asked of them. A less effective scientific leader may unknowingly squander potential that might have flourished…

scientific leader
21 Sep 2016 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

Strengths and limitations of your Nanodrop

Quantifying a DNA, RNA or protein sample concentration is now as easy as a click of the pipette, a push of a button and a dab of tissue to clean up. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the strengths and limitations of your Nanodrop – before you set up. Take a…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis&Equipment Mastery and Hacks&New England Biolabs

5 Funny Things I Have Seen in the Lab

Given enough time, even the worst rookie research disasters seem amusing. It’s a comedy of errors that test our wit and our patience, but ultimately leave a lifelong impression on how to try experimentation a little bit differently the second time around. With that said, here are 5 brief stories of amusing things I’ve witnessed…

12 Oct 2015 Lab Safety

12 Top Tips for Working in Your Cell Culture Hood

Whether you’re about to become keeper of the cells, or are just passing through to run a pilot study, knowing how to use the biosafety cabinet is just as essential as knowing how to use the fume hood when working with non-crawling, chemical reagents. We’ve seen a brief protocol for how to use the biosafety…

11 Mar 2015 Cells and Model Organisms&Lab Safety

10 Top Tips When Working With Your Fume Hood

Little chemical, BIG SMELL: Leave it to a pinch of beta-mercaptoethanol to overpower the lab. While not every chemical has such a pungent reminder about where it should be handled (hint: not at the bench), a good rule of thumb is to make use of your chemical fume hood whenever possible! We looked recently at…

25 Feb 2015 Lab Safety

Beginners Guide to Fume Hoods and Safety Cabinets

As with any experiment, choosing the right personal protective equipment is essential. In this series we’ll take a look at what different types of hoods add to your arsenal of PPE, what they do and how you can benefit by using them. First, why do I even need a hood? It’s common to run a…

28 Jan 2015 Lab Safety

Deciphering your Materials Safety Data Sheet

For all the chemical reagents that we may use on a daily basis, there are many for which we still need to learn how they work and what they can do. Thankfully, for a good majority of chemicals (especially the ones in our lab!) there IS a lot that we can understand because of the…

12 Nov 2014 Lab Safety

The Dos and Don’ts of Weighing Dangerous Chemicals

A lot of chemical reagents are relatively nonhazardous. But there are just as many that are extremely hazardous, which means you’ll want to take precautions to reduce any risk of exposure, repeated exposure and of course, accidental contamination of anything – or anyone – that walks out of the lab at the end of the…

12 Nov 2014 Basic Lab Skills and Know-how

Safe and sound: Gloves, goggles, gowns (and more lab safety basics)

The longer you work in research, the greater chance you have of witnessing – or experiencing first hand – a hazardous situation that can lead to an accident. These are the moments that are passed down to future scientists as scary, funny, or “I can’t believe how bad that situation could have been!” stories with…

05 Nov 2014 Lab Safety

Starters and Finishers: Who are the Most Valuable in the Lab?

Life seems to smile often on the work of the Starters. They pitch one idea after another and get to claim all the credit, whilst depending on others – namely the Finishers – to complete the job. Starters: Of course you’re ready. Let’s go! A Starter is the kind of person who jumps at the…

03 Sep 2014 Fun Stuff

5 Ways to Wreck Your Centrifuge

Surprise, surprise: That low frequency wobble isn’t your colleague’s dubstep. Before your centrifuge leaps off the bench and into a spirited dance, power down to see what’s the matter before it catastrophically destroys itself, your samples and the entire lab. Here are five unfortunately easy ways to wreck a centrifuge…and how to make sure it…

02 Jun 2014 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

Why You Should Talk to Sales Reps

People often joke about hiding from sales reps, but the fact of the matter is that valuable opportunities are lost when scientists disappear into thin air. Think twice before attempting your own vanishing act; a brief chat could reward you with amazing deals, introduce you to faster, better technology and keep you in the loop…

12 May 2014 Survive and Thrive

15 Laboratory Items You Can Buy In Any Store

A variety of lab supplies can be purchased off the shelf in your neighborhood, which can save you time and money* especially when compared to the added cost of shipping, handling, and markup of various items when ordering from lab vendors (*your mileage will vary). How to get reimbursed The method for procuring supplies on…

26 Mar 2014 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

My Fifteen Favorite Things To Do In The Lab

What is my most favorite task to do in the lab? Good question; it’s difficult to pick just one, so here are (quite) a few of my favorite things: 1. Working in a team This is what makes research great: in teams, numerous projects can be completed more quickly than what a single person may…

05 Feb 2014 Fun Stuff

5 Digital Photomicroscopy Competitions

Have you ever considered that your data is a work of art in the making? In particular, microscopy has the potential to capture the clearest, most stunning moments in life. And when a scientist accomplishes that, it’s a feat to share with everyone.  Why not share it through a photomicroscopy competition? Photomicroscopy competitions quickly help…

20 Jan 2014 Microscopy and Imaging

How to Make Sure You Never Lose a Lab Sample Again

It’s 11 PM…do you know where your samples are? If you dread the thought of having to hack through ice, snow and the bone-chilling depths of every freezer to locate them, flirt with frostbite only once. Better yet, never hunt for missing lab samples again! Here are some useful ways to keep track of every…

13 Jan 2014 Microscopy and Imaging

10 Easy ways to wreck your autoclave

You know how to wreck your microscope (yes, we’ve done that ourselves), and how to repurpose them when they’re old and obsolete. We’re busy brainstorming ways to destroy our centrifuge without annihilating the laboratory, so we’ll get back to you on that… Here’s our least favorite techniques to ruin that larger-than-life-sized autoclave. (Please don’t try…

09 Oct 2013 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

Common Reasons for Nightmare PhDs

From pre-doc to postdoc, there are many instances that can transform a perfectly good PhD program into a nightmarish one. Here are the most common scenarios to watch out for in graduate school – and some ideas about how to deal with them when they pop up. I wanted to get my PhD but didn’t…

11 Sep 2013 PhD Survival

8 more helpings of free PC Software for biological scientists

It’s been while since we talked about free PC software for biologists. So we thought we’d treat you to 8 more ideas that can turn you PC in to a super-bio-research-enabling-machine….. 1. Silvernote Standard Electronic note taking effectively clears the desktop of ideas scribbled on bar napkins, backs of envelopes and sticky notes. Silvernote is whitespace…

19 Aug 2013 Software and Online Tools

So You Want To Become A Digital Microscopist? Here’s Our Five Minute Guide.

If you’ve dreamed of becoming a life science photographer (and you know how to use a microscope and a digital camera), then you’re already halfway there. Put those two skills together and read on. Digital microscopists shoot photos of the very small, exotic things in life. You might think of such images as just more…

16 Jul 2013 Microscopy and Imaging

6 Ways to Maximize the Lifetime of Your Reagents

Reagents are expensive and are a significant cost to your lab. You know what to do to keep others from stealing your reagents. But contamination, improper storage and “lost” batches will all eat into your stock of reagents, bump up your consumables costs and waste your precious time. Unless you take steps to prevent them, that…

19 Jun 2013 Organization and Productivity

10 Easy Ways To Wreck Your Microscope

Do you see what I see?  Maybe not, if the microscope is wrecked in one of these ten ways when you… 1. Carry the microscope incorrectly. A death-grip on anything but the arm and the base almost guarantees that it will slip away, crashing onto the floor to break in pieces. You don’t want a microscope which…

04 Jun 2013 Microscopy and Imaging

5 Misunderstood Chemicals That you are Using in the Lab

Common lab reagents may appear innocuous, but don’t be fooled! Sometimes even the most-used lab chemicals are hazardous to your health. It is important to make sure you have an understanding of the dangers a reagent can present before you use it. Which common chemicals should you look out for? Here is a brief look…

22 May 2013 Lab Safety

Sharing and Transferring Gigabytes of Data

Great Scott! 1.21 gigabytes of data!!! The conundrum is not ‘Where can I store massive amounts of information’, but ‘How can I quickly share massive amounts of information all at once?!’ I’m certain this is a topic we have all wrestled with before, so here are 5 quick ways to send research data out to…

11 Mar 2013 Organization and Productivity

Why You Should Be Tweeting About Science

Scientists publish with the expectation that others will take their work on board to discuss it, validate it and build upon it in future publications. Unfortunately, a common mindset is that once a paper is out the door and printed, the hard work is finally done. Only the hard work is actually just beginning. To…

11 Feb 2013 Career Development & Networking

5 More iOS Apps for Scientists

Recently we’ve seen some great apps (here and here) that can be added to a scientist’s iPhone/iPad toolbox. In this next installment of iOS Apps for Scientists, let’s take a look at 5 free apps, including a couple which bring dozens of useful references under one “umbrella”, some tools to use while in the lab…

09 Jan 2013 Software and Online Tools

How to Make the Most Out of a Lab Internship

It takes some time to complete any professional education beyond a bachelors degree. So what to do if you’re not absolutely sure about spending the roughly sixty-or-so-months it takes to achieve a PhD? A hands-on internship or lab rotation is an excellent way to investigate science as a career. In a few short months an…

10 Dec 2012 Career Development & Networking

Don’t Wave Goodbye to Your Tissue Slices

Coating (or ‘subbing’) slides for immunohistochemistry can be the difference between having an organized set of tissue slices ready for microscopy- or watching them detach and float away during a wash. It takes a lot of time to place tissue slices in correct anatomical order, aligned right-side up and flat. To the naked eye, all…

13 Nov 2012 Microscopy and Imaging

Five Reasons to Mentor an Intern

To become an expert in managing people and projects together, a scientist needs a variety of important skills to succeed. One way to add to an already impressive skill set is by mentoring others through internships. Students take internships to be exposed to new things. Mentors give internships to inspire others to do research. They…

07 Nov 2012 Career Development & Networking

Oops! How to Deal with Common Laboratory Spills

Accidents happen. No matter how small or large, all materials spills demand immediate attention because they have the potential to contaminate, injure and create huge issues for more than just one lab if they’re not quickly addressed. Can you handle spills alone? So what happens if a common reagent is splashed onto the floor or…

21 Sep 2012 Lab Safety

14 Android Apps for Scientists

If you regularly use an Android device, then you might be curious to learn about some useful apps for scientists. Make the most of your smartphone or tablet with these 14 interesting (and free!) apps: 1. LabTimer, by GrayWolf Mobile Carrying a big, bulky timer around campus (and scavenging the lab for fresh button batteries!)…

25 Jul 2012 Software and Online Tools

10 Commonly Broken Good Laboratory Practices

What comes to mind when you think of good laboratory practices? To many, good laboratory practices describes the best conduct while working at the bench. The laboratory is a complex environment and understanding how small, seemingly innocuous, actions can have such a huge impact on the outcome of an experiment will help you to ensure…

18 Jun 2012 Organization and Productivity

Do YOU Want to Work in a Lab This Summer?

Graduate programs in science can take an additional four to seven years beyond a Bachelor’s degree. That’s a lot of time to commit to advanced training! If you’re currently a high school or college student wondering if graduate school is the right path for you, perhaps an internship in a laboratory can help you decide.…

30 Apr 2012 Career Development & Networking

4 Great Websites for Bench Scientists

Friends and colleagues are excellent sources of scientific information. The Internet is too, because it is a virtual library at your fingertips. If you are looking for a great solution to a common problem (i.e. how to eliminate RNAse contamination in a laboratory), the information is waiting for you. For help with more difficult problems…

29 Feb 2012 Software and Online Tools

The Perfect Slice: Preparing Tissue Samples For IHC

When you stop to think about it, tissue slices for immunohistochemistry (IHC) undergo quite a lot of handling. From chemical reactions to washes – even manipulations and transfers between baskets and microtubes – final analysis is often hours away from the initial step of taking a tissue slice. Properly fixed tissue has to be robust…

15 Feb 2012 Microscopy and Imaging

Making a List, Checking it Twice: 5 End-of-the-year Lab Tasks

A lot of effort is spent on running experiments…and occasionally it can feel like an almost equal amount of effort is spent on administrative tasks! Policy compliance is important for keeping everyone in the lab safe, but it can be difficult to keep track of it all when your primary duties are at the bench.…

15 Dec 2011 Organization and Productivity

Who Else Wants to Save Money on Lab Supplies?

Everyone loves a bargain! These days, more and more labs need to stretch every dollar as far as it will go. So how do you keep your lab well-supplied on a tight budget? To get a better deal on products you might choose to shop around, buy in bulk or haggle with vendors. However, if…

14 Nov 2011 Organization and Productivity

Make Your Excel Worksheets Database Ready

In a previous article (Tips for Constructing Lab Databases in Excel by Emily Crow), BitesizeBio readers began a brief, but spirited commentary on the application of using true databases (MySQL, Access, etc.) versus Excel “databases”. While Excel can be quite useful to organize information (for example, an inventory of reagents, plasmids, laboratory items – even…

17 Oct 2011 Organization and Productivity

Around The Blogs

Around The Blogs is a continuing series where we bring you interesting stories – from biology to technology, and beyond. In this edition we have a brief update on how the recent US national budget agreement might affect science, an introduction to journal retractions, an important technological birthday, a poisonous rat and 3-D printing. The…

16 Sep 2011 Of Interest

A Painless Way to Extract Data from Raw Text Files

These days, raw text data sets can be spat out at you from all manner of instrumentation. This automation is efficient, however it can give you a headache when it comes to extracting very specific information from reams of characters and numbers within a raw data file. Brute force (editing or extracting data from the…

24 Aug 2011 Organization and Productivity
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