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Nick Oswald

After obtaining his PhD from the Dundee University School of Life Sciences, Nick Oswald moved into to industry, first working in a small team that designed Sophion Bioscience’s prototype Q-Patch system and then developing industrial bioprocesses with Ingenza Ltd.

His time at the bench gave him the feeling that a) he would like to move into writing and publishing and b) he had something to offer in helping researchers to share their professional know-how to make science more efficient, more successful, and more enjoyable to be a part of.

So while still working in the lab in 2007 he started BitesizeBio.com and began writing about what he knew himself. His first article was titled “5 DNA Ligation Tips” and was quickly followed by further articles about laboratory techniques soft skills and life skills gleaned from his experience in the lab. As researchers found his articles on Google, some came forward to contribute their expertise in articles and so began the growth of Bitesize Bio into the huge and vibrant knowledge-sharing community it is today.

Bitesize Bio became Nick’s full-time job in 2010 but prior to that, while growing Bitesize Bio, he cut his teeth in publishing and marketing with stints of work with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and the journal, Neuroendocrinology.

These days Nick is focused on the further growth and improvement of Bitesize Bio as a knowledge-sharing hub, other projects within his company Science Squared Ltd, and assisting biotech companies to market their products and services with genuinely useful educational material via Bitesize Bio and the Life Science Marketing Society.

Institution : Bitesize Bio
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Articles by Nick Oswald

Image of a tooth being pulled as a play on word representing phenol extraction of DNA

The Basics: How Phenol Extraction of DNA Works

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 18, 2021

Phenol extraction is a common method for removing proteins from nucleic acids. Discover how phenol extraction of DNA works.

Women holding a broken electricity cable looking like she's been electrocuted to represent the competency of electrocompetent E. coli

DIY Electrocompetent E. coli

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 28, 2021

Making good quality electrocompetent E. coli is very easy. One morning’s work (with a bit of work ahead of time) is all it takes.

Image of raindrop on a leaf to represent DNA precipitation

DNA Precipitation: Ethanol vs. Isopropanol

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 25, 2021

Discover what you need for successful DNA precipitation and how to choose between ethanol and isopropanol solvents.

Image of a child doing science. They are amazed at finding out how SDS-PAGE Works

How SDS-PAGE Works

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 11, 2021

Knowing how SDS-PAGE works means that you can troubleshoot any issues in your experiment and tweak the setup to get publication-worthy figures. Find out how it works here.

Scientist holding up alkaline pH test strip to represent alkaline lysis in the lab

Lab Basics: How Alkaline Lysis Works

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 7, 2021

Alkaline lysis for plasmid isolation? That’s like the ABCs in a molecular biology lab. Read this detailed article to understand the process behind this common technique.

An image of beer bottles and mugs denoting ethanol used for ethanol precipitation

Ethanol Precipitation of DNA and RNA: How it Works

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 30, 2021

Using ethanol precipitation to isolate or concentrate your nucleic acids? Find out how this routinely used technique works, and get tips to produce the best results.

A scrabble-type tile showing a letter h next to a hand showing a sign language letter h to represent an author's h-index

Does Your h-index Measure Up?

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 16, 2021

How do you measure how good you are as a scientist? One way is the h-index. Discover what this is, and learn about the pros and cons of using it to assess your scientific career.

Yellow 'Cleaning in Progress' floor sign to represent effective laboratory sterilization methods

6 Laboratory Sterilization Methods

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 9, 2021

Effective laboratory sterilization methods are essential for working with isolated cell lines. Read our guide to the top 6 sterilization techniques to banish those bugs.

gloved hands hold result of making agar plates

How to Make the Perfect Agar Plate Every Time

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 2, 2021

Agar plates are the foundation of many experiments – make sure your plates are perfect every time with these 8 tips and start your experiment ready for success!

A blurred photograph of an event exhibition to represent a scientific conference and someone presenting a scientific research poster

10 Tips on Writing a Research Poster

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 18, 2021

A scientific research poster can be a great tool for drawing people into a conversation at a conference. We’ve pulled together our 10 top tips to help you prep perfect posters.

A model of Dr Who's police box Tardis on a white background to represent ways to use your Dr title for good and evil

10 Ways to Use Your “Dr” Title for Good and Evil

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 16, 2021

So you might be wondering why you bothered with all those years of failed experiments, committees, over-bearing supervisors, thesis writing, and thesis defending. Well, no matter where life takes you, you can now call yourself “Dr” whenever you want. And that can be more useful than you might think…

multicoloured cells imaged on a confocal microscope to illustrate how you can improve your confocal images

Confocal Images: Expert Tips for Your Hour of Need!

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 9, 2021

Getting publication perfect confocal images can be tricky. If you are struggling or just want to ensure you’re capturing the best images possible, check out our top 7 tips for confocal imaging.

Image of a qPCR plate, to highlight importance of ct value in qPCR

What Is a Cq (Ct) Value?

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 17, 2020

Don’t stay confused by Ct values! We’ll guide you through what they are, how to calculate them, and troubleshooting issues.

Moire wave to depicit how Structured Illumination Microscopy works

Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM) – An Introduction

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 7, 2020

Discover how structured illumination microscopy works can help you see things in greater detail.

What's The Problem With Ampicillin Selection?

What’s The Problem With Ampicillin Selection?

By Dr Nick Oswald | December 17, 2019

Resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin is commonly used as a selection marker for plasmids in gene cloning and protein expression in E.coli and other bacteria. While it can be incredibly useful tool, there can be problems using this selection marker that you need to be aware of if if you plan on using it. This…

antibiotics

Antibiotics Used in Molecular Biology

By Dr Nick Oswald | December 10, 2019

Antibiotics are used in a wide range of techniques in molecular biology including molecular cloning and are important for treating pesky mycoplasma contamination in cell cultures. They can also be used to maximize your plasmid yields by reducing protein synthesis, in certain circumstances. The aim of this post is to provide an easy reference to…

Lasers for Confocal Microscopy: Part II

Lasers for Confocal Microscopy: Part II

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 24, 2017

Continuing from our first article on lasers for confocal microscopy, we will now discuss two specialized types of lasers: lasers for two-photon excitation and tunable, white light lasers. We will also discuss the applications of the two lasers. Lasers for Two-Photon Excitation The two-photon absorption phenomenon was first described for microscopy in 1931. Here, the…

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism and Academic Fraud [BMA Podcast]

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism and Academic Fraud [BMA Podcast]

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 16, 2017

In the modern research environment we have all of the information we need to work with right at our fingertips – just a cut and paste away. And that makes it very easy for even the most well-meaning scientist to accidentally stumble into plagiarism. Most of us think of plagiarism as simply copying someone else’s…

How to Cope With Overwhelm in the Lab: Taming Your Inbox

How to Cope With Overwhelm in the Lab: Taming Your Inbox

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 5, 2017

Look around you in your lab, your institution, and even in the world in general and you’ll see how much we all gravitate towards stress and overwhelm. Stress is just the workplace norm. Overwhelm means you are working “hard enough”. Being so occupied that you are frantically buzzing around from one task to another means…

Mini Me: What Makes for Good Models of Human Disease?

Mini Me: What Makes for Good Models of Human Disease?

By Dr Nick Oswald | May 30, 2017

One of the major roadblocks to the development of novel therapies is the lack of robust and reliable animal models. Selecting and validating animal models that mimic human conditions is challenging, especially when faced with chronic multi-factorial diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Acknowledging this problem, the National Institutes of Health initiated the Animal Models…

confocal microscopy

Lasers for Confocal Microscopy

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 7, 2016

Lasers were once called “a solution looking for a problem.” The word—which is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation—used to conjure up images of deadly weapons from Sci-Fi movies and TV series. However, their increasing use in everyday life, first in CD players and then in barcode scanners and pointers, have…

phd thesis

The Easier Way to Write a PhD Thesis

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 10, 2016

Without good planning and preparation, writing your thesis can be a nightmare. Here are some tips on how to make the process a whole lot easier.

The Essential PCR Troubleshooting Checklist

The Essential PCR Troubleshooting Checklist

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 27, 2016

Routine PCR? Let’s be honest, there’s no such thing. Even with the simplest PCR reaction things can go wrong, so you need to have a good checklist of ideas for PCR troubleshooting and rectifying the problem. Today I have brainstormed all of the ways I can think of to approach problems with standard PCR reactions.…

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 26, 2016

This is the first in a three part series on the transformation of E.coli. By the end of this you should be an expert on E.coli transformation and on which strains to choose for different applications. If you’re already an expert, I hope it’ll be an enjoyable refresher for you. In either case, please comment…

lac expression

How to Shut Off Background Lac Expression in LB

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Here’s a tip that you may find useful if you are expressing proteins in E.coli using a lac promoter-based expression system, e.g. pET, in LB medium (L-broth). Lac expression systems are typically induced in the lab using IPTG (isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalacto- pyranoside), which is a non- hydrolyzable analog of lactose, the natural inducer of the lac operon.…

Resolving your Noise Complaints – the Basics of Signal/Noise Ratio in Microscopy

Resolving your Noise Complaints – the Basics of Signal/Noise Ratio in Microscopy

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

The resolution of any microscope is related to the numerical aperture of the lens and the wavelength of light used to form the image, and can be calculated using Abbe’s law. This, however, is the ideal situation – the best case scenario. In real life, resolution must be defined in terms of contrast, and there…

Get Your Clone 90% Of The Time with Ligation Independent Cloning

Get Your Clone 90% Of The Time with Ligation Independent Cloning

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Are you stuck in cloning hell?, Tired of doing ligations that don’t work? Want a faster, more efficient cloning procedure? You should try ligation independent cloning. A growing number of researchers swear by ligation independent cloning methods because they are simpler and more efficient than conventional cloning and as a recent convert to their ranks,…

What’s The Problem With Ampicillin Selection?

What’s The Problem With Ampicillin Selection?

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Ever wonder what those small colonies, like satellites, surrounding a larger E. coli colony on your LB with ampicillin plates were? Or why, when you picked that colony, it never had the plasmid you just transformed? Well, it’s because those satellite colonies are “protected” from the ampicillin by the big colony. Read on for more… Ampicillin…

Why Do Enzymes Have Optimal Temperatures?

Why Do Enzymes Have Optimal Temperatures?

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Every biologist is familiar with the profile of the rate of an enzymatic reaction versus temperature as shown in the figure. We know that enzymes from E. coli or warm-blooded animals tend to have an optimum around 37°C, while those from thermal vent bacteria have much higher optimal temperatures. Surprisingly, I find that many biologists…

PCR Problems? Try an Additive

PCR Problems? Try an Additive

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

You’ve tried all the usual stuff, and checked the primer sequences twice, but still can’t get that PCR fragment amplified. It’s time to enter the strange world of PCR additives. Over the years a variety of additives have been shown to enhance PCR reactions in certain situations. Here is a summary of some of the…

DNA Ligation Tips

5 DNA Ligation Tips

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

DNA ligations can be frustrating. Sometimes they don’t work for no obvious reason. Our top 5 DNA ligation tips should improve the efficiency of your ligations, and will hopefully increase your cloning success rate! 1. Aliquot the ligase buffer The ATP in the ligase buffer is essential for the DNA ligation reaction, but is broken down…

5 Tips on Vector Preparation for Gene Cloning

5 Tips on Vector Preparation for Gene Cloning

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

One of the most crucial steps in any cloning procedure is the preparation of the vector. Get it wrong and your chances of success will be drastically reduced. The overall aim for a good vector preparation is to obtain a fairly concentrated stock of undamaged, fully digested plasmid DNA that is free from contaminants. Missing…

How To Ask For Reagents

How To Ask For Reagents

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Greetings, I’m a research student and I’m having a lot of trouble in finding the right antibodies for my study, because I need both monoclonal and polyclonal. And I need to start addressing some other international scientists. The problem is that I don’t know how to address the situation. If they indeed have antibodies that…

Top Tips to Keeping Your Logbook in Shipshape

Top Tips to Keeping Your Logbook in Shipshape

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Unless you are one of those rare breeds that do organization naturally, setting a system in place to archive your experiments takes practice and perseverance. It’s hard to imagine when you are doing an experiment for the 100th time that you will ever forget how to do it; but a year down the line, when…

Perfectionism: Are you on the downward spiral?

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Do you fear failure every time you do an experiment? Do you feel constantly stressed about obtaining poor results? Do you feel personally culpable when an experiment goes wrong? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you may be suffering from perfectionism. For a scientist, this is a particularly damaging trait…

consistent real-time PCR

10 Tips for Consistent qPCR

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

Quantitative PCR (qPCR) uses fluorescent dyes or probes to visualize the amplification of specific DNA sequences as it happens (i.e. in real time). The dyes or probes fluoresce when they bind to newly amplified DNA, and the amount of fluorescence emitted is proportional to the amount of DNA (or mRNA) present in the original sample. By detecting newly synthesized DNA…

Quick reference: Determining DNA Concentration & Purity

Quick reference: Determining DNA Concentration & Purity

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

The most comprehensive way to evaluate DNA concentration and purity is to use both UV spectrophotometeric measurements and agarose gel eletrophoresis. This quick reference guide gives an overview of the information that can be derived from both. UV spectrophotometric measurement of DNA concentration and purity DNA itself, and most of the common contaminants found in…

Bright Minds: Overcoming Autofluorescence in Human Brain Samples

Bright Minds: Overcoming Autofluorescence in Human Brain Samples

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

The human brain autofluoresces – a funny thought next time you see a cartoon character with a bright idea and a light bulb over his head – but not so funny if you are attempting immunofluorescence analysis. But there are some significant advantages to using fluorescence detection over chromogenic methods. In this article I will…

Spectral Unmixing

Spectral Unmixing in Fluorescence Microscopy

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

When we are doing a double labelling, it makes good sense to choose two fluorophores with spectra widely spaced apart to avoid mixing. Why combine GFP with Rhodamine, when you can combine it with Texas Red?

Brightness and Contrast in Microscopy Imaging

Brightness and Contrast in Microscopy Imaging

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2016

The concepts of brightness and contrast are so general, and the issues related to them so many, that it may seem strange to have a single brief article with such a title. Indeed, when we speak about brightness, we can think about the brightness of the light source, the aperture and magnification of the lens,…

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