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Catriona Paul

Catriona has a PhD from Edinburgh University, UK and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Her research focuses on male reproductive biology specifically looking at the effects of age on spermatogenesis.

Articles by Catriona Paul:

Herzenberg and the Invention of the FACS Machine

The flow cytometer that we have all grown to know and love may have only come into its own in the 1990’s, but who would have known that the first cell sorter was invented as early as the 1950’s? With the recent death of one of the key developers of fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS),…

21 Jul 2015 Flow Cytometry

Making The Most Out Of Your Commute To The Lab

Power nap anyone? Depending on how long your commute is, and what type of transport you use, you could make your commute useful. If you are taking public transport, you can use that time to answer those emails you don’t have time to get to at the office/lab, or to catch up on reading some…

19 Nov 2014 Organization & Productivity

Using Flow Cytometry for Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer

A marriage of sorts Fluorescence resonance energy transfer, or FRET, is often done using a microscope, which means it can be difficult to analyze large numbers of cells in one sitting. One way to overcome this, is by combining FRET with fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS), giving you a high-throughput method to screen for protein interactions…

04 Nov 2014 Flow Cytometry

Protocols: Where Do You Get Yours?

Trying a new protocol is always a little daunting, especially if no one else in your lab is doing it. So it’s always good to find a tried and tested protocol from a reputable source before getting your hands dirty. Or at least one that can start you off in the right direction. It is…

29 Sep 2014 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

How to Check the Accuracy of Your Pipette

How much time do you spend thinking about the accuracy of your pipette? Probably not much. It’s one of those things that get brushed aside in the heat of experimentation. Pipetting accuracy though, is critical to successful experiments–especially in sensitive experiments. For example, qPCR relies upon accurate pipetting—calculations depend on having the same amount of…

21 Jul 2014 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

10 Useful Tips For Improving Your Sorting Experiments

After a very naïve start in flow cytometry thinking that published protocols will work without fault – needless to say, that did not work out in my favor – I realize now that following a few simple steps can go a long way, and will undoubtedly save you time in the end. So, here are…

01 Jul 2014 Flow Cytometry

An Introduction to Gating in Flow Cytometry

What is one of the first things you do when you sit down at the flow cytometer and start looking at your cells? You start drawing polygons and setting gates. To the neophyte the gating process can look a little random – why do you exclude those dots but not these?  But gating in flow…

17 Jun 2014 Flow Cytometry

Take Care of Your Tools: How to Clean a Pipette

Like a Jedi’s light saber, your pipette is an extension of your arm and the lifeline to your (lab) existence. You probably should give it a little TLC once in a while to keep it free from contaminants.  Especially if you are doing experiments involving things like gene expression analysis. Sure, you can use filter…

26 May 2014 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

10 Favorite Online Tools for Molecular Biology

What did we do before the internet? And where would we be without handy online molecular biology tools? Apparently in the ‘olden days’ doing a simple gene or protein alignment required programs that used dynamic programming algorithms such as the Needleman-Wunsch and Smith-Waterman algorithms. These required long processing times and the use of supercomputers or…

05 May 2014 Software & Online Tools

What is Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy?

Fluorescent microscopy not only makes our images look good, it also allows us to gain a better understanding of cells, structures and tissue. With confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) we can find out even more. CLSM combines high-resolution optical imaging with depth selectivity which allows us to do optical sectioning. This means that we can…

22 Apr 2014 Microscopy & Imaging

Herzenberg and the Invention of the FACS Machine

The flow cytometer that we have all grown to know and love may have only come into its own in the 1990’s, but who would have known that the first cell sorter was invented as early as the 1950’s? With the recent death of one of the key developers of fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS),…

15 Apr 2014 Flow Cytometry

Freeze-Thaw Cycles and Why We Shouldn’t Do It

Freeze-thaw—you know it’s bad for your samples, don’t you? While working in the lab, you have most likely heard someone say ‘aliquot your protein/cells/DNA/RNA to avoid too many freeze-thaw cycles.’ But do you actually understand why? You probably thought that avoiding freeze-thaw cycles had something to do with damaging cell structure as well as proteins…

14 Apr 2014 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

Fun With FRAP! Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching for Confocal Microscopy

FRAP – one of those cool-sounding techniques that you hear people say along with FLIP, FLAP, FRET and FLIM and have always wanted to try or maybe you just want to know what it is. Here’s a little background… All of these four-letter words involve fluorescent microscopy techniques that take advantage of a process where…

08 Apr 2014 Microscopy & Imaging

Introducing the 2014 Laboratory Olympics

What better way to commemorate an Olympic year than to have your very own Lab Olympics? Lab Olympics can boost lab morale when it is low or inject some fun into your daily routine*. If you work in a large lab it is even better; you can pit guys against girls, postdocs against PhD students…

31 Mar 2014 Fun Stuff

The Pros and Cons of a Life in Academic Science

The great thing about being a scientist is, well… that you get to be a scientist!  And it can be fun and rewarding. But being a scientist can be a nasty stressful business too. As I come to a turning point in my ‘academic career’, I find myself making mental notes of the pros and…

17 Mar 2014 Personal Development

Alternatives to Paraffin: Cryo and Resin Embedding and Sectioning for Histology

In most areas of research, the chances are that you have done some kind of histology and most probably used paraffin-embedded tissue. However, the process of embedding in paraffin can be a lengthy one and sometimes it’s not ideal for the staining you want to do or the morphological features you want to see. Fret…

09 Jan 2014 Microscopy & Imaging

Counterstaining for Immunohistochemistry: Choices, Choices…

When it comes to immunohistochemistry (IHC) we spend a big chunk of time figuring out which antibody to use and which concentrations to try, but how many of us take the time to think about which counterstain would be the best choice for our tissue and the message we want to portray? Believe it or…

26 Nov 2013 Microscopy & Imaging

Antigen Retrieval Techniques For Immunohistochemistry: Unmask That Antigen!

Just when you think that you’ve found the perfect fixative for your tissue, there’s something else to consider- your fixative may have just masked all the antigen sites your lovely new antibody was going to bind to! Have you just masked your antigen? As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, the fixation technique you…

27 Aug 2013 Microscopy & Imaging

I’m Sticking With You: Four Coatings To Help Cells Stick To Microscopy Slides

Have you ever isolated a great little population of cells after days or months of trying, got truly excited about doing some immunofluorescence with them only to find out (at the very end) that all your cells washed away?! If this has happened to you, then look no further; we will introduce you to some…

06 Aug 2013 Microscopy & Imaging

Histology Fixatives: What Do They Actually Do To Your Samples?

We are all using some kind of fixative in the histology lab, but do we actually know what it’s doing to our cells and tissues? No matter what fixative we use, the purpose is to immobilize antigens and retain good cellular structure to allow us to do some kind of histology analysis. Optomize your protocols…

28 May 2013 Microscopy & Imaging