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Jode Plank

I earned my PhD in Biochemistry from Duke University, then did a postdoc at the University of California at Davis. I am now the Scientific Illustration Manager at American Journal Experts, where I continue to pursue my interests in visual communication of science and developing my ability to make data pretty.

Articles by Jode Plank:

Streamline Your Western Blots

Western Blotting is a long established method for which the protocol varies little from lab to lab. However, there are some new products that are available and some tweaks that can be made to the protocols that may improve your results and reduce the time it takes you to execute this popular technique. Save Time…

01 Sep 2015 Protein Expression and Analysis

Doesn’t Play Well with Others- The Chemistry of the Autoclave

While Luria-Bertani broth (LB) has long been the fuel that powered Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, there is an increasing movement towards more specialized and complex bacterial media formulations such as Terrific Broth (TB), Plasmid DNA Media (PDMR), and Autoinduction Media (ZYP-5052). These media formulations optimize E. coli cell growth and performance utilizing specialized carbon sources…

23 Feb 2012 Cells and Model Organisms

How to Land a PostDoc Position

You have been toiling away at your thesis project for years and you think the end is in sight. Now the big question is “What’s next?” If you think you might want to move away from the bench, then you should check out our suggestions for alternative careers for scientists. If you think your future…

19 Dec 2011 Career Development & Networking

“Networking” is NOT a Dirty Word

Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”. Less formally, networking is actively communicating with the other people you know (mostly scientists, in our case) for career advice and job openings, in addition to utilizing opportunities to meet new people for the same purpose. This is a core activity of…

12 Dec 2011 Career Development & Networking

It’s 10 am. Do You Know Where Your mRNAs Are?

For a long time we’ve been able to pinpoint the subcellular location of proteins, and the advent of FISH (Fluorescence in situ Hybridization) allowed us to locate the position of genes in the nucleus, but recent advances in RNA FISH are making it easier and easier to collect the same data about individual messenger RNAs.…

13 Sep 2011 Microscopy and Imaging

The Why and How of Ethidium Bromide Assisted Partial Digests

A partial digest – typically done when you only want to cut one of two or more restriction sites in a DNA – can be a frustrating procedure to execute. The best advice anybody can give about partial digests is to avoid having to do them . However, there are times when there just aren’t…

04 Apr 2011 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

The Ins and Outs of Protein Concentration – Chromatography

In parts one and two of this series I described how semi-permeable membranes and precipitation methods could be used to concentrate your protein-of-interest, but there is one more method that you may not have thought of for protein concentration – chromatography. While chromatography resins are an obvious choice for protein purification, they can also be…

11 Feb 2011 Protein Expression and Analysis

The Ins and Outs of Protein Concentration – Protein Precipitation

While precipitation is an obvious choice for concentrating DNA and RNA samples, it can also be an effective way to concentrate proteins. Here in installment two of this three part series, I describe the two most common methods for protein precipitation – ammonium sulfate and trichloroacetic acid. Background Precipitation of proteins occurs primarily by hydrophobic…

10 Feb 2011 Protein Expression and Analysis

The Ins and Outs of Protein Concentration – Semi-permeable Membranes

This is the first of a three part series describing some of the most common methods for concentrating proteins. In later installments I’ll discuss using protein precipitation and chromatography to concentrate a protein. However, here I’ll detail the most popular approach – semi-permeable membranes, used for both dialysis and commercial protein concentrators. Structure of the…

09 Feb 2011 Protein Expression and Analysis

Eliminate the Growth Lag with Large E. coli Cultures

If you purify proteins expressed in E. coli, then you’re probably familiar with this scenario: you come in bright and early in the morning and inoculate your large flasks of media with the overnight culture, start shaking them at 37 °C, and now you wait. And watch. And wait some more. You can’t venture far,…

17 Jan 2011 Protein Expression and Analysis

Microart – the 2010 Winners from the Nikon Small World Photo Contest

As usual, the Nikon International Small World Competition has produced another breathtaking gallery of photomicrographs. Here are some of my favorites, but you have to visit the galleries to see all of the winners, honorable mentions, and images of distinction: If you like these and are looking to spruce up the lab, Nikon is also…

20 Oct 2010 Microscopy and Imaging

Can We Live Without Peer Review?

Jef Akst has posted an interesting article over at The Scientist discussing a new system for scientists to publish their work directly to the web without traditional journals or the peer review system. Radical, to say the least. In this system, once a group believes that their research is ready for public dissemination they can…

22 Sep 2010 Taming the Literature

Infrared Thermometers as Infrared Laser Detectors

I recently read an article on WIRED about an optics experiment cooked up by the scientists at NIST to allow office workers to test for potentially dangerous infrared (IR) leakage by inexpensive laser pointers. Like many who read it, I wasted no time attempting to replicate their experiment on my desk. (I’m not sure why…

02 Sep 2010 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

Writing Your First (or next) Paper: Part IV

This is the final installment in a four part series on writing your first paper. For the first part in the series, click here, for the second part, click here, and for the third, click here. After what has potentially (likely?) been years of data collection and a month or two of writing, re-writing, wailing and gnashing of teeth,…

18 Aug 2010 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

Writing Your First (or next) Paper: Part III

This is part three of a four part series on writing your first paper. For the first part in the series, click here, for the second part, click here. Once you have written the first draft and handed it off to your mentor, the editing process begins. Depending on the personalities involved, this could be a…

13 Aug 2010 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

Writing Your First (or next) Paper: Part II

This is part two of a four part series on writing your first paper. For the first part in the series, click here. You have been pounding away at your project, probably for a year… or two… or three… Anyhow, you now have a collection of figures that seem to tell quite a nice story,…

09 Aug 2010 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

Writing Your First (or next) Paper: Part I

Most of us learn the art of writing papers on the job, often a painful process. In this four-part series, I’ll run you through my step-by-step approach to writing papers and, hopefully, help make the process of writing your first (or next) paper, a bit easier. As always, if you have any alternative advice or…

04 Aug 2010 Writing, Publishing and Presenting

Pimp your Microcentrifuge

Microcentrifuges are pretty much the epitome of efficiency, but I have a couple of suggestions that may make using this instrument even easier. Divide by Three Not only is the number of tubes a microcentrifuge can hold divisible by two, but almost always by three as well. How does this help you? If you have…

26 Jul 2010 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

Picking an Advisor: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

After picking a graduate program, the next big decision for a first-year graduate student is picking an advisor. One of the factors to consider in this decision is the academic age of the Professor and his or her lab. Do you want to work for the energetic Assistant Professor that joined the department last year,…

19 Jul 2010 PhD Survival

Respect the Ultra

If a random sampling of my hallway is any indication, then half of you don’t think too much of using a ultracentrifuge, while the other half of you are scared to death of it. I think the best approach is right in between these two perspectives: have a healthy respect for the ultra. Here are…

13 Jul 2010 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

The Treatment

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, has posted a piece on his website that he wrote for The New Yorker called “The Treatment”. In this article he follows the trials and tribulations of Synta Pharmaceuticals as they take one of their potential cancer drugs, elesclomol, from discovery through phase three clinical trials. Along the way…

07 Jun 2010 Inspiring and Thought Provoking

eBay – The other source of lab equipment

While almost all of you are probably familiar with the power of eBay to bring you everything from concert tickets to electronics to your very own Batmobile, you may not have realized that the world’s largest garage sale also has quite a collection of laboratory equipment. I’ve been turning to this source for equipment for…

31 May 2010 Equipment Mastery and Hacks

Practical application of Phenol/Chloroform extraction

While there are many more methods to choose from for cleaning up your RNA or DNA than there used to be, sometimes Phenol/Chloroform extraction is still the best way to go. Here I’ll discuss some of the practical aspects of using this technique. Nick introduced the topic of Phenol/Chloroform extraction in a previous article, touching…

03 May 2010 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

The Art of Giving Advice

Science is a culture of information exchange, from the top to the bottom. Sometimes we are simply presenting the information, such as in seminars or papers, but most of the time the information changes hands as advice, solicited or unsolicited. Obviously this occurs most often between labmates, but also between scientists within the same department,…

26 Apr 2010 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

Will the iPad Replace Your Lab Notebook?

The release of the iPad this week may bring the long-expected replacement of the paper-bound lab notebook by electronic notebooks one step closer. But are scientists, particularly PIs, comfortable with electronic lab notebooks? The rise of the tablets The concept of an electronic lab notebook isn’t anything new, and even the idea of implementing it…

05 Apr 2010 Organization and Productivity

SDS-PAGE: The Easy Way to Find the Wells

If you have ever attempted to load a SDS-PAGE gel only to miss the well, stab the divider, and then watch helplessly as your sample squirts off into the wrong well, then this tip is for you. The fortunate among us are able to use pre-cast gels with the wells outlined on the gel plate,…

22 Mar 2010 Protein Expression and Analysis

Lab Hacks: Lab equipment from the hardware store

While almost every lab has a small toolbox with some screwdrivers, pliers, and such, here are some tools that may not have obvious utility at the bench, but could make your life easier. A Butane Torch If your OCD is as bad as mine, then watching a bubble flow out of the flask onto the…

08 Mar 2010 Equipment Mastery and Hacks
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