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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

Use Cell Banks to Save Time Growing Routine Cultures

Use Cell Banks to Save Time Growing Routine Cultures

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 1, 2010

If you regularly grow up the same bacterial culture, whether it’s the strain that expresses your favorite protein, the culture you make your competent cells from, or just your regular control strain, it can be a bit of a pain growing it up from scratch each time. Before you even get to grow your actual…

Does Anyone Know the Funny Handshake?

Does Anyone Know the Funny Handshake?

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 31, 2010

Greg Petsko, President of the American Society for Biochemistry wrote a very interesting article recently in which he drew attention to the parallels between the PhD/Postdoc system and the medieval trade guilds, and the problems our profession faces because it is drifting away from that system. In the trade guild system the right of an…

How Plasmids Became Embroiled in The Cold War

How Plasmids Became Embroiled in The Cold War

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 17, 2010

The humble plasmid. We now know it so well, but as little as 60 years ago the field of extra-chromosomal heredity was decidedly murky. Not only was it the subject of great debate, conflict and friction within the scientific community, it was even used as a politico-religious tool during the Cold War! The origin of…

Becoming an Expert, Brick by Brick

Becoming an Expert, Brick by Brick

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 10, 2010

As a newcomer to a research lab, looking at the seasoned, experiment-beaten postdocs around you, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the task of acquiring their level of knowledge and expertise, and of making any sort of impact within the lab and wider community, is huge and daunting. But…

How is Lab Grade Water Purified?

How is Lab Grade Water Purified?

By Dr Nick Oswald | January 11, 2010

There’s something in the water, and it would love to go after your experiments. Straight out of the tap, water contains microorganisms, endotoxins, DNase and RNase, salts and other impurities that could gobble up your experiment in one bite. Of course we avoid this drama completely by using purified water from which these nasties have…

How To Make Fewer Mistakes In The Lab

How To Make Fewer Mistakes In The Lab

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 23, 2009

How often do you make errors in the lab that ruin a good experiment? Rather than flaws in experimental design, I mean errors like forgetting to add a reagent, pipetting the wrong amount or following a protocol step wrongly. Especially early on in your career, errors like this can be a real drain on your…

Which is Best: TAE, TBE or Something Else?

Which is Best: TAE, TBE or Something Else?

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 19, 2009

TAE or TBE, which is best? Well, of course, it depends on what you want to do. Here are the pros and cons of both: TBE (Tris-borate-EDTA) is a better conductive medium than TAE (Tris-acetate EDTA) so is less prone to overheating so use TBE for long runs Borate is an enzyme inhibitor so TBE…

Does (Should) Your Lab Rock?

Does (Should) Your Lab Rock?

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 16, 2009

My PhD was a soul-less affair. It was also rock-less, jazz-less and pop-less. And all because my supervisor was of the opinion that music in the lab was a distraction that reduced concentration and our ability to do the job. “Rubbish!”, I thought, “Nothing helps you through a mindless task like splitting cells, pipetting or…

Spare a Thought for the Old Scientists

Spare a Thought for the Old Scientists

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 25, 2009

You youngsters don’t know how easy you’ve got it. Kits, outsourcing and improved practices are making research easier and easier. At least in theory (who are we kidding?). In the old days things were much tougher, and many wiley old scientists bear the scars, mental and physical, of carrying out techniques that were mind numbing,…

Open Access Publishing Is Not Perfect, Yet

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 24, 2009

No-one would disagree with the goals of open access publishing: free access to scientific literature for all. If you work in an institution or small company that can’t afford to pay journal subscription fees you’ll know the problems that lack of access can cause. But publishing costs money, and someone has to pay those costs.…

How to Shine in a Small Biotech Company

How to Shine in a Small Biotech Company

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 5, 2009

So you finally got your PhD (or your masters or batchelor’s) and you are making the big switch to a small biotech company. You will probably have been hired for the specific skill set that you have built during your training, but now you have to learn to apply those skills to solve real world,…

Tech Clinic #4: Can a single E.coli take up 2 plasmids?

Tech Clinic #4: Can a single E.coli take up 2 plasmids?

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 31, 2009

The following question was emailed to Bitesize Bio by Beheroze Sattha and I gladly took up the challenge, and I immediately knew the answer. Or so I thought. After delving extensively into Pubmed, Genes V (I know, I need a new version) and Molecular Cloning I have come up with an answer, but it is…

Delivering Effective Criticism

Delivering Effective Criticism

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 16, 2009

Criticism is not just valuable, it is essential for a person’s development as a scientist, or anything else for that matter. Well that’s not entirely true. Not all criticism is valuable, it has to be the right kind of criticism. It has to be constructive and better still, well delivered in order to inspire the…

How to Become a World Class Speaker

How to Become a World Class Speaker

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 16, 2009

Really great presentation skills. Some people in science seem to have them, and some don’t. I am one of the don’ts. Sure, I can get up in front of people and talk when needed, but it won’t be a polished performance by any means. I can get my message across but my delivery is not…

10 Stupid Lab Safety Mistakes

10 Stupid Lab Safety Mistakes

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 15, 2009

Keeping safe in the lab really only requires one thing: common sense. But if you look at what people are doing in the lab, you might think that that common sense isn’t so common after all. What are the most stupid things you have seen people do in the lab to put the safety of…

A Quik Way Around Partial Restriction Digests

A Quik Way Around Partial Restriction Digests

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 4, 2009

No matter how many times you look at it, it’s not going to change. You are planning your next cloning experiment, but there’s a problem. The only restriction enzyme that cuts in a suitable position on your plasmid vector also, as luck would have it, cuts in another position elsewhere in the vector so you…

15 Ways to Make Contacts at Conferences

15 Ways to Make Contacts at Conferences

By Dr Nick Oswald | May 20, 2009

Going to conferences normally involves a significant investment of time and money. So it’s important to get as much as you can out of them. One of the most valuable things you can get from a conference is contacts. These can build into a network of people that will be valuable to you throughout your…

RPM Does Not Equal RCF

RPM Does Not Equal RCF

By Dr Nick Oswald | May 11, 2009

RPM and RCF are two units that can be used to describe the speed of a centrifuge. Although they may look similar, they are oh-so-different and confusing them has resulted a disastrous end to many an experiment. So let’s set it out in black and white to make sure you don’t succumb to the same…

The Best Way to Desalt DNA for Electroporation

By Dr Nick Oswald | April 20, 2009

After ligation, the method you use for desalting your sample prior to electroporation is critical, especially if your ligation is inefficient, according to a study by Schlaak et al [1]. Under standard electroporation conditions, the electric field of 12-18 kV/cm generated in a 0.1mm-gap electroporation cuvette means that the conductivity of the sample must be…

Why You Should Never Trust a Patent

By Dr Nick Oswald | April 17, 2009

If you search the literature using a comprehensive search engine like Google Scholar, you will get several types of articles listed. Most of them are peer reviewed journal articles and many are patents. But beware of an important distinction between the two: Although patents can contain useful information, they are not authoritative because they are not…

Reasons to be a Scientist Part II

Reasons to be a Scientist Part II

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 16, 2009

Scientists often complain about the job, and here on Bitesize Bio we are no different. For an example, take a look at my rant about why not to be a scientist – written about a year ago after a particularly frustrating couple of weeks in the lab. Very recently, I decided to leave bench science,…

Take it Easy - Learn by Osmosis

Take it Easy – Learn by Osmosis

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 9, 2009

Undergrad courses teach you to learn in a specific way. You have to cram in as much information into your brain as possible, hold it in there, then regurgitate as much of it as possible on exam day. Of course, actually understanding what you are talking about, and working from basic principles, helps but the…

How To Get Great DNA Sequencing Results

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 19, 2009

There is nothing more frustrating than getting back rubbish data from a DNA sequencing run, especially when you are waiting for an important result. For example, confirmation of that clone you have been trying to get for the past three months! A lot of the time, the quality of sequencing data is within your control.…

Networking For Scientists

Networking For Scientists

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 5, 2009

No scientist is an island, not even a great scientist like you. A good network of professional contacts is as essential to your career as hard work at the bench. This is because your network can open many doors that no amount of good bench work could. Access to unpublished information, collaborations and job opportunities…

What you need to know about OD600

What you need to know about OD600

By Dr Nick Oswald | December 8, 2008

If you use a spec to measure cell density, you may be making a very common mistake and taking inaccurate measurements as a result. Specs are often used for measuring the density of suspension cultures, but the mistake that many people make is to record the OD given by the spec as an absolute value.…

Why You Shouldn't Worry about Getting Results

Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Getting Results

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 17, 2008

Everyone is worried about getting results, aren’t they? Results are what you need for success in science – they are essential for bringing the funding in. But focusing on results per se is not a good way to work because, as a scientist, you can’t “get” results. You can’t “make” them happen. Essentially in every…

Are you growing in your career?

Are you growing in your career?

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 3, 2008

Where do you want to be, career-wise, in 1, 3, 5 or 10 years? Is the position you are in at the moment helping you to reach that goal, or are you stagnating? These are questions I think everyone should be asking themselves at least a couple of times a year. Career Growth During Study…

Powerpoint: Lose the bullets

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 30, 2008

Powerpoint is a double-edged sword. There’s no doubt it makes putting together a presentation easier. Those who worked with slides, overhead projector films and the like in the years B.P. (Before Powerpoint) will testify to that. But Powerpoint’s ease of use also makes it easy to abuse, and bullet points are the most abused feature…

Inspirational Talks at TED

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 14, 2008

Imagine bringing some of the world’s greatest talkers and thinkers in a conference and challenging them to give the best talk of their life, on whatever they want to talk about. Wouldn’t that be an amazing event? And if someone videoed all of the talks and put them on a website, what a great resource…

When SDS-PAGE Goes Bad

When SDS-PAGE Goes Bad

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 30, 2008

You are not alone. Everyone makes a hash of their protein gel sometimes but this resource can help you work out what went wrong, and feel better for seeing gels even worse than yours.

5 ways to Damage DNA

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 10, 2008

Your DNA samples are precious so take care of them! Here are 5 ways that DNA can be damaged, so now you now what to avoid in the future.

Scientists – Get Networked

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 8, 2008

Networking has never been easier. Here are 5 sites designed to help scientists to build professional networks.

Agarose Gels Do Not Polymerise!

Agarose Gels Do Not Polymerise!

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 6, 2008

Ever heard of polymerising agarose gels? I haven’t. If you think you have, read this.

RNase and DEPC: Dispelling the Myths

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 4, 2008

DEPC. IF you work with RNA, you’ll know this stuff. It’s vital for ridding solutions of RNases that would otherwise destroy your work. But just how well do you know it?

Southern, northern, western (and eastern?)

Southern, northern, western (and eastern?)

By Dr Nick Oswald | July 9, 2008

This is the story of how one of the most famous and quirky naming conventions in biology came into being.

Calculate your Fudge Ratio, Manage Lab Time Better

Calculate your Fudge Ratio, Manage Lab Time Better

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 24, 2008

Calculating your fudge ratio can help you get your work done on time and get home before dark. Here’s how.

How to Make Accurate Stock Solutions

How to Make Accurate Stock Solutions

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 23, 2008

Biology researchers have a bad habit of doing accurate assays using semi-accurate tools. Here are some suggestions on how to sharpen up the accuracy of your assays.

How Accurate are Your Pipettes?

How Accurate are Your Pipettes?

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 19, 2008

You probably use and rely them more than any other tool in the lab, but just how accurate are your pipettes?

A Simple Lab Notebook Admin System

A Simple Lab Notebook Admin System

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 10, 2008

As far as your lab work is concerned, your lab book is the source of all knowledge. Making it easy to find things in there will help. Here’s how to do it.

How to reduce your lab's environmental impact

How to reduce your lab’s environmental impact

By Dr Nick Oswald | June 5, 2008

Bioscientists are generally nature-lovers at heart, but the average bio lab is incredibly wasteful. Here are some ways to reduce your lab’s environmental impact.

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