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mcartwri

As a grad student in toxicology and freelance science writer, Megan's interests range from poisons to public health to proper punctuation while writing about poisons and public health. She blogs about poisons, pathology, and science communication at http://sciencebasedwriting.wordpress.com.

Articles by mcartwri:

How to Store Your Concentrated Proteins

Like graduate students, proteins are sensitive to rough handling. This is particularly true when they (the proteins, not the students!) are being concentrated, purified, and stored. We’ve covered the many options out there for concentrating your proteins, along with how to handle protein extracts to keep your proteins safe from degradation. But proteins can degrade…

25 Apr 2017 Protein Expression & Analysis

Our 12 Favorite Science Podcasts

Whether you’re doing a quick Miniprep or labeling hundreds of PCR tubes, listening to science podcasts can help keep you sane, entertained, and informed! With so many podcasts out there, we’ve pulled together this list of twelve great options: 1. 60-Second Science (1 – 2 minutes, updated weekdays) This Scientific American podcast offers quick news about…

09 Jul 2016 Fun Stuff&Of Interest

Top 5 Protein Quantification Assays

What could be simpler and faster than measuring the amount of protein in your sample? Well, don’t get too confident – even the most humble protein quantification assay uses some sophisticated chemistry that can trip you up (especially if you’re working with detergents!). To help you choose the right method to “simply” measure your protein,…

27 May 2015 Protein Expression & Analysis

6 Common Lab Uses of Detergents

Detergents are all around us in the lab – and that’s a good thing! Thanks to their chemical structure, detergents can solubilize and interact with many types of molecules, making them vital to research. To show you why detergents are such a good thing for scientists, we’ll go through six examples in molecular biology where…

16 Mar 2015 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

Know Your PPE – Face Protection

Like all PPE, goggles and face shields are your last line of defense against the many lab hazards that may hurt you. But not all goggles and face shields are equal! To help you keep safe and sound, we’ll review the most common types of eye and face protection in the lab, and give you…

18 Feb 2015 Lab Safety

Guard Yourself with Our Guide to Gloves

                  We scientists wear them all the time, but have you ever stopped to ask: what good are gloves? Why are there so many kinds? And what happens when you put one straight into liquid nitrogen?                   Gloves protect your skin (and often the rest of you) from…

26 Jan 2015 Lab Safety

Let’s Dish About Soaps: A General Overview of Detergents

What do cell lysis, clean dishes, and gallbladders all have in common? Answer: detergents! These useful chemicals can solubilize fats and other proteins in water. They are the key to applications as varied as lysing cell membranes, extracting DNA, and solubilizing proteins for gel electrophoresis. To help you understand these important chemicals, we provide a…

03 Nov 2014 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

Ten Non-Chemical Lab Hazards and What They Do to You!

Your lab is full of non-chemical hazards that can explode, stab, kill, and – as if that wasn’t enough – bite.  Here’s a list of those hazards to remind you why Environmental Health & Safety exists! 1.  Centrifuges Centrifuges are dangerous, especially when not cared for!  An unmaintained ultracentrifuge imploded in an American lab in…

11 Aug 2014 Lab Statistics & Math

How to Switch Mentors, Part 3: Actually Switching – Is it Worth it?

Grad school is a big investment of your time, with a lot riding on a successful relationship with your mentor.  Unfortunately, you may have realized that the relationship is not working and resists improvement.  You’ve taken the steps to switch to a new mentor. Now comes the hardest part. What do you actually say to…

09 Jun 2014 Survive & Thrive

How to Switch Mentors, Part 2: Planning and Preparing to Switch

Much of your success and happiness in grad school depends on an effective relationship with your mentor.  Despite your best efforts, sometimes the first relationship doesn’t work out, and you need to switch mentors to succeed in your program.  But how do you prepare to change mentors mid-PhD? Step 1: Write it all down Before…

14 May 2014 Survive & Thrive

How to Switch Mentors, Part 1: Recognizing Red Flags

Grad school is a long, hard, long, time-consuming, and–wait for it–long process. A bad relationship with your primary mentor can make it worse, and may even drive you away from a science career.  Unfortunately, you often can’t spot incompatibility until you’ve spent time with a mentor and lab.  Even then, how do you tell the…

07 May 2014 Survive & Thrive

Book Review: “The Best American Science Writing 2012,” edited by Jesse Cohen and Michio Kaku

From cutting-edge medicine to disastrous climate change to quantum mechanics, the 2012 installment of The Best American Science Writing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0062117912) offers some of the best science journalism and essays from the previous year.  The range of topics and quality of writing make this book a satisfying and accessible read for anyone interested in current science.…

23 Sep 2013 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

A Quick Primer on Enzyme Kinetics

As biological catalysts, enzymes transform target substrates into products. Enzyme kinetics is the rate of that transformation. By understanding how an enzyme’s behavior is affected, you can figure out how it functions in physiology or fails to function in disease. Now it gets complicated… What Affects an Enzyme’s Kinetics? In the first place, most enzymes…

12 Jun 2013 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

More Bad Laboratory Chemicals, and What They Do to You

It’s all too easy to forget how many common lab chemicals are dangerous.   To remind you, I pulled together a list (and a few cautionary tales) of hazardous yet ubiquitous chemicals a few weeks back). It proved popular, so I’ve furthered my efforts to bring you even more chemicals that you should not be…

10 Jun 2013 Lab Safety

Ten Bad Chemicals In The Lab and What They Do To You!

Researchers are surrounded by dangerous elements, from infectious microbes to cranky advisors.  With hazards all around, it’s easy to forget how deadly even common lab chemicals are. But don’t worry – we’ve compiled a list of common, dangerous chemicals to help you out. Acetonitrile Be careful with this flammable irritant.  Once this solvent is inhaled,…

22 Apr 2013 Lab Safety

Three Tips (and Two Tricks) for Using BLAST

The Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) algorithm is at the heart of a free suite of online resources available through the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).  While most researchers are aware of BLAST as a sequence alignment tool, NCBI’s BLAST suite offers so much more!  I’ll cover in-depth how to use these resources…

16 Jan 2013 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

How Does 2D Gel Electrophoresis Work?

2D gel electrophoresis (2DE) is a key technique for purifying individual proteins from complex samples based on their isoelectric points and molecular weights.  Simple enough in theory, but as the plethora of protocols and articles shows, 2DE demands patience and meticulous optimization.  But whether your samples are human sera or HUVEC lysates, 2DE uses these…

19 Nov 2012 Protein Expression & Analysis

Book Review: “How Economics Shapes Science”, by Paula Stephan

Paula Stephan’s ‘How Economics Shapes Science’ both reassures and discourages any would-be scientist considering a six-and-a-half year jaunt through the United States’ doctoral system.  According to Stephan, money drives everything in American science – from students’ willingness to earn tiny stipends for indeterminate lengths of time, to new graduates’ decisions between the tenure grind and…

19 Sep 2012 Career Development & Networking

4 Tips for Better Scientific Image Processing in Photoshop

For scientists, Photoshop is a double-edged sword with a dagger nailed to the hilt. Its power in image processing is unrivalled; its ability to gut you with ethics violations is unmatched. An earlier article outlined how to keep your conscience clean when Photoshopping, here we offer four tips that will help walk with the Photoshop balancing…

27 Jun 2012 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

How Proteases and Protease Inhibitors Work

Proteases: wild, mysterious, destructive.  What are these untamed elements ravaging your precious lysate? How can a drop of EDTA or a smidge of “cocktail” protect that sample, which is gently cradling your hopes, your dreams, and your desire to survive the next lab meeting? Brace yourself for a biochem flashback: in this article, we’ll explain…

15 Jun 2012 Protein Expression & Analysis