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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 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.

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Articles by Nick Oswald

How To Become A World Expert In Your Field

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 31, 2008

Only a handful of people ever become world experts in their field. The rest attain somewhere between a functional and world expert level of knowledge. So what makes the best better than the rest? Are they born with greater knowledge? Intelligence? Inner strength? Well, the latter is the more likely. Although some world experts are…

3 More DNA ligation Tips

3 More DNA ligation Tips

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 19, 2008

A while back, I wrote an article on 5 DNA ligation tips that could improve the efficiency of your cloning procedures. It proved to be quite a popular article so here are another 3 tips that might make your ligations even better! 1. Change ligase brand. All T4 DNA ligase preps are not equal. Many…

Ethidium Bromide alternatives

Ethidium Bromide: The Alternatives

By Dr Nick Oswald | March 3, 2008

How can you avoid the perils of exposing DNA to UV light during cloning procedure? Use an alternative DNA stain! Ethidium bromide is not your only option. In this article, we will compare the available DNA stains that can be used in electrophoresis to clarify the options available to you. Ethidium Bromide The classic DNA…

10 Unmissable Bio Flick and Pic Galleries

10 Unmissable Bio Flick and Pic Galleries

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 28, 2008

A picture tells a thousand words. So I suppose a movie tells 24,000+ words per second. Whether you use them for educating, self-study or just for your viewing pleasure, photos and movies of biological concepts and processes are a valuable resource. Here are ten of the best bio flick and pic galleries from around the…

Turn Away from the (UV) Light

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 26, 2008

This is a story that could strike fear into your heart if you use UV light to visualize DNA that you later intend to clone. Read on if you dare. A while back I was doing a project where I had to make a mutation library of a plasmid. There are a number of ways…

Sending Plasmids: How to Avoid Jail Time and Shredded Envelopes

Sending Plasmids: How to Avoid Jail Time and Shredded Envelopes

By Dr Nick Oswald | February 20, 2008

Whether you need to get your plasmid DNA to a lab on the other side of the world, or a few hundred miles down the road, it’s important to make sure your precious sample gets there, it is not degraded, and you don’t end up in jail. Here’s the Bitesize guide on how to send…

Warning: Dihydrogen Monoxide is Worse Than Ethidium Bromide

By Dr Nick Oswald | January 28, 2008

Please read and pass this life-saving information on to your friends. A chemical that all of us use in the lab has turned out to be highly dangerous. It is an asphyxiant, can cause severe burns and is a contributor to the greenhouse effect. Medical organizations all over the world confirm it to be responsible…

Ligation Independent Cloning Protocol

By Dr Nick Oswald | January 17, 2008

A while back I wrote a post on a T4 DNA polymerase dependent ligation independent cloning method. In the comments, Max asked if anyone had a protocol. Since there does not appear to be a simplified protocol available on the web, I thought I would post mine for reference. It is adapted from a 2006…

Who Else Thinks Biology Teaching Methods are Wrong?

Who Else Thinks Biology Teaching Methods are Wrong?

By Dr Nick Oswald | January 16, 2008

I shudder to think of the way I was taught about metabolic pathways as an undergrad. Lists of mysterious names connected by arrows – all to be memorized, with little reference to how the processes actually worked on a chemical basis. Even worse – and perhaps embarrassingly for me – I was almost at the…

Hammer hitting gene to represent random mutagenesis

8 Approaches to Random Mutagenesis

By Dr Nick Oswald | December 12, 2007

Random mutagenesis is an incredibly powerful tool for altering the properties of enzymes. Discover 8 different approaches.

Enzyme Commission (EC) Numbers

Enzyme Commission (EC) Numbers

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 28, 2007

In the early 1950’s so many new enzymes were being discovered in the burgeoning field of biochemistry that enzyme nomenclature was in danger of getting out of hand. With no guidelines on how to name enzymes, researchers simply chose their own. Some enzymes were given names, like diaphorase or Zwischenferment, that conveyed nothing about the…

Troubleshooting DNA Ligation Problems

Troubleshooting DNA Ligation Problems

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 20, 2007

In any experimental procedure, getting the controls right can save you a lot of work when things go wrong by allowing you to troubleshoot the source of the problem. DNA ligation is no different. In this article, we explain how to set up a ligation reaction with a complete set of controls, and use them…

Rookie Researcher Disasters

Rookie Researcher Disasters

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 13, 2007

Wide eyed and wet behind the ears, the rookie researcher steps into the lab for the first time. Armed with several years’ knowledge mined from text books, lectures and undergrad labs he feels ready to take his place amongst the worldwide legions of scientists who battle daily in the pursuit of knowledge. Little does he…

Error Bars in Biology

Error Bars in Biology

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 9, 2007

….statistics. The very word strikes fear into the heart of many a biologist (including me). In an article published earlier this year, Cumming and co-workers of La Trobe University, Melbourne gave a very useful rundown of common mistakes made when using statistical error bars in biology and suggested a number of rules that should be…

10 Reasons NOT to be a Scientist

10 Reasons NOT to be a Scientist

By Dr Nick Oswald | November 6, 2007

Ok, this week has been a bad week in the lab so far. A few weeks ago I wrote a post describing 15 reasons to be a scientist. Today I am in the mood to cross over to the dark side and give you 10 reasons NOT to be a scientist! Strangely I could only…

Time to Think

Time to Think

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 26, 2007

Spare a thought for your poor over-worked neurons. In the information age, they are bombarded with input from the moment they are dragged into consciousness by the radio alarm clock each morning then throughout the day by e-mail, Google searches, RSS feeds, mobile phones, newspapers, books, blogs and more. In the post genomic era, it’s…

The Invention of PCR

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 24, 2007

Few technical breakthroughs have changed the face of their field like the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Gene cloning, sequencing of complex genomes, DNA fingerprinting and DNA-based diagnostics are just some of the techniques that were either inefficient, crude or plain impossible before PCR. The technique has revolutionized biological research and biotechnology to such an extent…

Keep your data organized.

How to: Keep your data organized

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 16, 2007

Talented, enthusiastic scientist required. Must have good organizational skills.Do you fit the bill? With the pace of molecular biology and biochemical research quickening year on year, the importance of good organization and planning skills for researchers is becoming increasingly important. Here are 5 ways to ensure that your data is organized and easily analyzed, samples…

Solved: Heterologous Gene Expression Problems

Solved: Heterologous Gene Expression Problems

By Dr Nick Oswald | October 9, 2007

When heterologous gene expression goes wrong it can be a real headache. Here’s my checklist for the steps to take when you encounter problems with this dark art. 1. Check the construct by sequencing the expression cassette to make sure that everything is as you expect. A lack of expression could result from a stray…

You Know You’ve Been In the Lab Too Long When…

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 26, 2007

This has been doing the rounds all over the web, so I thought I’d post my 10 favorites. You know you’ve worked in the lab too long when… You wash your hands before you go to the toilet You tell your family to store the milk “at 4°C”

Choosing a Competent E.coli Strain

Choosing a Competent E.coli Strain

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 24, 2007

Of all the competent E. coli cell strains available (including both chemically competent or electrocompetent E. coli), which one should you choose? The choice of strain to use in a given experiment is determined in large part by the nature of the experiment and the set of traits that best fit it. In this article…

Competent E.coli: To buy or not to buy?

Competent E.coli: To buy or not to buy?

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 20, 2007

Buying competent cells from commercial suppliers is convenient, provides a guarantee of quality, and gives access to strains with a variety of in-built traits that assist with things like maintenance of plasmid integrity (more on these traits later). However, this can be an expensive business. Alternatively, competent cells of any strain, including the specially-constructed commercial…

15 Reasons to Be a Scientist

15 Reasons to Be a Scientist

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 18, 2007

Just for fun, here my top 15 reasons for being a scientist. Add your own reasons in the comments below if you so wish. 1. Not being stuck behind a desk all day every day 2. Conferences… see the world for free 3. Understanding some of the fundamentals of life and the universe 4. Getting…

10 Tips for Better Presentations

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 12, 2007

I have been at a conference today and don’t have too much time to write this, so this will be a quick article. After watching lots of speakers of varying competence, I thought that it would be good to outline some tips for great presentations. Speaking is an integral part of a scientist’s job, and…

10 links: Free Mac Software for Molecular Biologists

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 10, 2007

I’ve put together this list of 10 pieces of free molecular biology software for Macs. I hope you will find at least some of it useful. If any of your favorite free programs are not included, please email me and I’ll add them or you can leave a comment with a link. If you are…

Easier Gene Cloning With Positive Selection Cloning Vectors

Easier Gene Cloning With Positive Selection Cloning Vectors

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 6, 2007

Isn’t it a pain digesting, purifying and dephosphorylating your cloning vector prep to eliminate prevent high background in your ligation/transformation? A new generation of positive selection cloning vectors promises to eliminate all of that hassle by killing off any vector that has not taken up the insert you are trying to clone. Positive selection cloning…

Custom Gene Synthesis: A PCR alternative.

By Dr Nick Oswald | September 5, 2007

Artificial gene synthesis was first reported in 1972 when a group of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology synthesized a complete yeast alanine tRNA gene. Synthesis of the first peptide- and protein-encoding genes ensued in the following decade. Since then, synthetic biology has advanced in leaps and bounds, and custom gene synthesis, a one-time expensive option for…

An image of an aperture to depict DNA gel photography.

Low cost DNA gel documentation

By Dr Nick Oswald | August 29, 2007

Get awesome pictures of your DNA gels with a standard digital camera and an orange filter. Here’s how.

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