Nick Oswald

I started Bitesize Bio on a Macbook on my kitchen table in 2007 while in my 7th year of working as a molecular biologist in biotech. My aim was to share the know-how that I had acquired from the school of hard-knocks in the lab, so that others could learn from my mistakes and small victories. Nowadays my mission is to facilitate the gathering of hardcore know-how from whole spectrum of bioscientists and share it here on Bitesize Bio to create a super-mentor that any bioscientist can turn to for much-needed guidance.

Articles by Nick Oswald:

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

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…

16 Jun 2017 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

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

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…

05 Jun 2017 Organization & Productivity

The Easier Way to Write a PhD Thesis

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.

10 Aug 2016 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Antibiotics Used in Molecular Biology

Antibiotics are used in a wide range of techniques in molecular biology. My aim with this post is to provide an easy reference to some of the main ones used in molecular biology, their mechanisms, range and working concentrations. I hope you will find it useful. Your Personal Antibiotics Reference Guide *Abbreviations: Gm(+/-)=Gram positive/negative; My=mycoplasma;…

04 Aug 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

The Essential PCR Troubleshooting Checklist

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.…

27 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

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…

26 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

How SDS-PAGE Works

What does a stacking gel do? This and other questions about SDS-PAGE answered!

13 Jul 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

Omics Software Galore!

If you are looking for Omics software, then I suspect the G6G Directory of Omics and Intelligent Software need be your only stop. From the name it will come as no surprise that this website is a directory of Omics and AI software. On the Omics side it lists software for: Genomics Gene Expression Analysis/Profiling…

09 Jul 2016 Genomics & Epigenetics

Top Tips to Keeping Your Logbook in Shipshape

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…

09 Jul 2016 Organization & Productivity

5 Tips on Vector Preparation for Gene Cloning

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…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Why Do Enzymes Have Optimal Temperatures?

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…

09 Jul 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

Quick reference: Determining DNA Concentration & Purity

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…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

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

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,…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

PCR Problems? Try an Additive

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…

09 Jul 2016 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

Perfectionism: Are you on the downward spiral?

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…

09 Jul 2016 Personal Development

The Basics: How Phenol Extraction of DNA Works

Phenol extraction is a commonly used method for removing proteins from a DNA sample, e.g. to remove proteins from cell lysate during genomic DNA preparation. It’s commonly used, but not commonly understood. If you want to know how it works so you can show off to all of your friends… read on. The basic protocol…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

What’s The Problem With Ampicillin Selection?

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…

09 Jul 2016 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

How to Shut Off Background Lac Expression in LB

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.…

09 Jul 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

Non-specific Binding? Tips to Sharpen up Your Western Blot

In the previous installment of this series on western blotting, we addressed potential sources of error when your final product is completely bare. But alternatively, what do you do when too much background is the problem? You may have beautiful bands of interest—but if there is a bunch of non-specific binding, your quantification and data…

15 Mar 2016 Protein Expression & Analysis

5 Ways to Clean Up A DNA Sample

One of the most common tasks in molecular biology is cleaning up DNA from aqueous solutions to remove buffer salts, enzymes or other substances that could affect downstream applications. Examples include cleaning up PCR reactions, digests or other enzymatic treatments and cleaning up genomic or plasmid DNA contaminated with cellular proteins/debris. There are several ways…

09 Jun 2015 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis