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Karen O'Hanlon Cohrt

Karen holds a 1st class Honours Bachelor Degree in Biological Sciences and a PhD in Biotechnology, both from Maynooth University in Ireland. She spent almost 10 years working as a researcher in both academic and industrial roles in Ireland and Denmark. Throughout her research career, Karen has worked with yeast, filamentous fungi, bacteria, plants, moth larvae and mammalian cells. She has tried her hand at everything from Sanger sequencing to genetically modifying disease-causing fungi. She loves science and is passionate about communicating science to others for educational purposes. Her passion for knowledge-sharing prompted her to join Bitesize Bio as a freelance writer (2014) and she is now Editorial Manager. In her (albeit limited) spare time, Karen loves to knit and enjoys life with her husband and son in Denmark.

Articles by Karen O'Hanlon Cohrt:

Alphabet Soup for Bacteria!

In its simplest form, a bacterial growth medium is designed to support the growth of bacteria. Depending on which bacteria you want to culture, you may have a range of different media to choose from, each containing a rather unique blend of sometimes surprising (and odd!) components! In this article, I will take you through…

12 Oct 2017 Cells and Model Organisms

Crash Course in Microbial Identification

Welcome to this crash course in microbial identification methods! Here, you will get an overview of the traditional and modern methods available for the identification of bacteria, yeast or filamentous fungi to the species level. Species level identification allows you to discriminate confidently between two species from the same genus, something that is often essential in the treatment of infectious…

27 Jul 2017 Cells and Model Organisms

More About Microbes: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly!

In a previous article, we took a quick journey through the wonderful world of microbes. Let’s take a step back now and have a closer look at the benefits of microbes. We will also look at reasons to avoid many of them. For example, the ‘plague’ which is caused by a particularly nasty bacteria called…

29 Jun 2017 Cells and Model Organisms

Introducing You to the Wonderful World of Microbes!

Welcome to the microbe series where we have a very exciting line-up planned over the coming months. Here we will talk about everything microbial, including the uses of microbes in industry and medicine, emerging pathogens, diagnostics, and much, much more! Let’s kick off this series with an introduction into these wonderful, yet sometimes nasty, organisms…

01 Dec 2016 Cells and Model Organisms

Mysterious Plant miRNAs: What About Them?

Welcome to the last article in this series! Last, but by no means least, we will look at the importance of plant miRNAs and how they differ from their animal counterparts. When/How Were Plant miRNAs Discovered? Plant miRNAs were first described in 2002, a decade after the seminal miRNA study in the nematode C. elegans…

09 Jul 2016 Genomics & Epigenetics

Mysterious miRNA: Identifying miRNAs and Their Targets

In my first article on this topic we delved into what miRNAs are, how they are generated, and their function. Now, we are going to discuss how to identify miRNAs and their targets. Why Do You Want to Look at Something So Small Anyhow? miRNAs play a crucial role in most physiological processes. It’s not…

09 Jul 2016 Lab Statistics & Math

Understanding Plasmid Incompatibility

Welcome to the last article in the series on E. coli origins of replication where we will touch upon plasmid incompatibility! This is a broad and complicated topic so we will mainly focus on points that might be relevant for you in the lab. What is Plasmid Incompatibility? Plasmid incompatibility is usually defined as the…

16 Mar 2015 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Mysterious miRNAs: An Introduction to MicroRNAs

mRNA, miRNA, siRNA, tRNA, rRNA! Just what do all these RNAs do? Most biology graduates will have heard a good deal about mRNAs, tRNAs and rRNAs since these are vital players in protein synthesis. For siRNAs there has been a lot of focus within drug discovery and biomedical research over the last decade, but there…

04 Mar 2015 Of Interest

How to Manipulate Plasmid Copy Number

So far in this series, we have looked at origins of replication, we’ve discussed how plasmid replication is regulated in the popular pBR22 plasmid, and we’ve seen how a disturbance of this regulatory mechanism has given rise to the high-copy pUC18 plasmid. Are you ready for more plasmid talk?? If so, keep reading, as we…

14 Jan 2015 Of Interest

qPCR: RNA Quality and Why It Matters

Gene expression analysis plays a pivotal role in a wide range of studies, including biomedical analysis and diagnostics. Of all the methods available for gene expression analysis, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) is the most rapid, sensitive, and accurate to measure mRNA, and its use in clinical diagnostics is rising steadily. RNA quality entails both purity and…

18 Dec 2014 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

pUC18 – Probably the Best High-Copy plasmid in the World!

Today I would like to introduce you to pUC18, a plasmid most noted for its high copy number. In the first article in this series, we talked about how origins of replication (ori) control plasmid replication and copy number. To learn about this, we focused on the pBR22 ori and the role of Rop protein in…

26 Nov 2014 Of Interest

Top Ten websites to help you with your PCR experiments

Whether you are embarking on a PhD in molecular biology, trying to amplify a new gene, analyzing gene expression by qPCR, or trying to solve a PCR problem, you will probably resort to a Google search at some point or another. How do you sort out the > 20 million hits you get when you…

20 Nov 2014 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Polymerase chain reaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (PCR-ELISA)

As researchers, we are constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways to analyze, detect and quantify our favorite protein or gene. Luckily, we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel! PCR-ELISA is a good example of where two commonly used techniques have been merged together to create a very powerful analytical tool. What…

26 Oct 2014 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Article Series: E.coli Plasmid Origins of Replication: The Origin

The literature is bursting at the seams with information about plasmids, sequences, origins of replication and more, and it can be overwhelming to sift through everything (at least for me!) when all you want is to find out a simple fact about your plasmid of choice!! This series of 3 articles aims to take a…

08 Oct 2014 Of Interest

How To Calculate The Number Of Molecules In Any Piece of DNA

It’s the dreaded topic, isn’t it? Calculating the number of molecules, the concentration of a solution, or working out serial dilutions were tasks that always filled me with dread as an undergrad. And to this day I am still not a huge fan! Fear not – there is light at the end of the tunnel!…

17 Sep 2014 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

Getting the Most Out of Your Column: Optimizing Your HPLC Gradient

Let’s imagine the following scenario: You are researching a biosynthetic pathway in your favorite fungus. You know that this pathway produces a family of toxic compounds, and you want to see if you can block this pathway (or parts of it) with an antifungal drug. You have a control (no antifungal) and samples that have…

14 Jul 2014 Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography Techniques

How You Can Use HPLC In Your Research

If you’re an HPLC guru, then you probably think that everyone should be using HPLC.  And you might have a point – HPLC is very powerful and has broad applications across many fields.  But it isn’t the answer to every problem. HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) is used to separate mixtures of compounds based on their…

07 Jul 2014 Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography Techniques

The Seven Deadly Sins of HPLC

If you work with an HPLC, then you know the frustration of going to use the machine and finding it in disarray. If you’re new to using an HPLC, then the machine can be intimidating to use and you might not know the ins and outs of using it. Here’s an article that has a…

30 Jun 2014 Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography Techniques

Running You Through HPLC: How Does it Work?

Your advisor tells you that he wants you to use HPLC to analyze your compound. You know that you’ve heard of this technique before, but you can’t remember what HPLC stands for, let alone how to go about doing it! We’ve all been there, though. Fear not! In this article, we will remind you about…

23 Jun 2014 Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography Techniques

Running You Through HPLC: How Does it Work?

Your advisor tells you that he wants you to use HPLC to analyze your compound. You know you’ve heard of this technique before, but you can’t remember what HPLC stands for, let alone how to go about doing it! We’ve all been there, and I bet you wish you had paid more attention in that…

23 Jun 2014 Analytical Chemistry and Chromatography Techniques