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Vicki Doronina

Vicki did her PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh. She had been working as a postdoc in several Russel group UK universities while honing her skills in scientific and creative writing. She is now a Technical Officer at the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, and pen for hire. Check out my proudest achievement, which may be useful for you: The BiteSizeBio Guide for Protein expression

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Articles by Victoria Doronina

Image of alphabet, depicting the A-Z of post-translational modifications

A-Z of Post-Translational Modifications

By Vicki Doronina | October 9, 2020

You might know the most common post-translational modifications, but there are many more than just phosphorylation and ubiquitination – come and test your knowledge!

Top 10 Uses of Microbes in Biotechnology

Top 10 Uses of Microbes in Biotechnology

By Vicki Doronina | August 21, 2020

Biotechnology is the use of biological organisms in technological processes. It is almost as old as the civilization itself, although it wasn’t called “biotechnology” until the 20th century. Far from abandoning it in the 21st century, we are developing new uses for biological organisms.

Transmission electron microscopy of the nuclear envelope

What Can Electron Microscopy Do for You?

By Vicki Doronina | August 14, 2020

The electron microscope (EM) – where electrons, rather than photons, make the image – fell out of fashion for a while, but it has come back refreshed. Modern electron microscopes cost less, use less electricity, and are generally easier to maintain than the older models, so it is likely that you can get your hands on one. Read on to learn more about this technique, and how to implement it into your research.

Pouring culture medium into Petri dish

Reproducibility 101: How to Make Media

By Vicki Doronina | July 28, 2020

Same is dull and boring, right? Not when it comes to making media batches – learn how to be boring and get great results every time.

Scientist stopping the spread of misinformation

Stand up for Science: How to Detect and Fight Misinformation

By Vicki Doronina | May 26, 2020

Stand up for science by fighting the spread of misinformation with our how-to guide.

Isolating Nucleic Acids From Arabidopsis Seeds (And Other Tough Seeds)

Isolating Nucleic Acids From Arabidopsis Seeds (And Other Tough Seeds)

By Vicki Doronina | April 2, 2020

While DNA and RNA extraction is a pretty common technique, it isn’t always the easiest. Read on to learn some top tips on how to successfully extract nucleic acids from even the toughest samples, like Arabidopsis seeds.

dry vs wet

Should You Switch from Wet to Dried Blood Samples?

By Vicki Doronina | December 13, 2019

A Spot of History Most of the biomedical methods used started as a curiosity. Then the one-off gains a limited use, the technology then progresses until its use becomes widespread. Just think about the arch from the curious polished glass spheres, used by Antony Levnhook to look at animalcules, to modern microscopes. The same story…

How to Set up Your Elution Experiment

How to Set up Your Elution Experiment

By Vicki Doronina | October 15, 2019

What do DNA mini preps and protein immunoprecipitation experiments have in common? They start differently, but they end with the same, critical stage – elution. But what exactly is elution, and what is the point? The Terminology First, let’s start with some basic terminology: Elution – extracting one material from another by washing with a…

A Bug Ate My Experiment, Part 2

A Bug Ate My Experiment, Part 2

By Vicki Doronina | October 8, 2019

In the first article of this series, I introduced microscopic parasites that infect greenhouse plants.  Initially, my goal for Part 2 was to list all the main types of infestations, but I quickly realized to do so would result in a textbook. Thus, this article will be about the most familiar and easy to identify…

An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment: What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment: What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

By Vicki Doronina | July 30, 2019

In theory, the greenhouse is a controlled laboratory environment where only the organisms you’ve introduced live. But in practice, just as other laboratory environments suffer from ‘unwelcomed guests’ (e.g. contamination and infestation), greenhouses are not always as sterile as you would like. To avoid any experimental issues, you have to be vigilant about these pesky…

An image of cells to depict free PCR

Isolating Bacterial RNA from Blood

By Vicki Doronina | April 8, 2019

For many decades, the only way to detect sepsis – bacterial growth in blood – was isolating the bacteria and growing bacterial colonies on a special medium. This was done by first spinning down the blood, which brought the blood cells and bacteria into the pellet. The pellet was spread on a blood agar plate…

The Beginner’s Guide to Reading Plasmid Maps

The Beginner’s Guide to Reading Plasmid Maps

By Vicki Doronina | March 11, 2019

Very often plasmid maps, especially historical ones that are hand-drawn by a long-forgotten PhD student, are a puzzle. What are these arrows and boxes? Where do I start? Don’t worry, we have a crash course introduction into deciphering plasmid maps. Familiarizing Yourself with Your Plasmid of Interest Let’s start with a classic plasmid: pBR3221. It…

DIY method for isolating yeast

Greenhouse Maintenance: Keeping Your (Green) Laboratory Clean

By Vicki Doronina | March 7, 2019

Cleaning the lab is one of the hardest jobs because it’s dull and repetitive. However, nobody in their sound scientific mind would argue that this can be avoided. Dust accumulates bugs, bacteriophages, and RNAses that can stray into your experiment and ruin it. Old boxes piling up is a fire hazard. Anybody who refuses to…

The Rites of Passage: Subculturing Microorganisms

The Rites of Passage: Subculturing Microorganisms

By Vicki Doronina | February 14, 2019

Anyone who has worked with microorganisms, be it bacteria or yeast, is familiar with subculturing – the act of transferring some cells from a previous culture to a fresh growth medium. You do it either to reset the growth phase of your culture or to increase the biomass for downstream experiments. But there’s more to…

PCR Challenge

RNAseq Library Preparation: From Cells to cDNA

By Vicki Doronina | February 11, 2019

RNAseq libraries, also called whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing libraries, provide a snapshot of cellular processes. This allows the researcher to gain information regarding changes in transcriptome in response to environmental changes, during disease, or after a drug application. RNAseq libraries also allow for the detection of mRNA splicing variants and SNPs. RNAseq libraries have virtually…

Water droplets

Laser in a droplet

By Vicki Doronina | January 31, 2019

When you hear about a laser, you likely imagine a medium-size apparatus with a light beam coming out of it, not a bacterium in a drop of liquid. Well, Turkish and British scientists went beyond ordinary imagination – they expressed a fluorescent protein in E.coli and suspended live bacteria in droplets. Illuminated droplets served as…

*pop*

To Sonicator and Beyond – Large Cell Volume Lysis Methods

By Vicki Doronina | January 29, 2019

At some point you have to leave small-scale cell lysis and move to large culture volumes for experiments currently in vogue, be it microarrays, total RNA libraries, or large-scale pull-downs for interactome or metabolome analysis. And at this point, you have to change your lysis method from an on-the-bench in eppendorfs to one capable of…

Herbaceous Dicot Stem: Cortex Collenchyma in Older Richinus

Breaking the Wall: How to Make Protoplasts

By Vicki Doronina | January 15, 2019

Non-mammalian cells, including bacteria, fungi, and plant cells, have a cell wall that maintains the shape of the cell. These cell walls are particularly strong, due to their composition as they contain polymers that create a rigid sphere around the vulnerable cytoplasm contained inside the plasma membrane. In bacteria, the cell wall includes several layers…

4 Important Considerations for Your Cell Lysis

4 Important Considerations for Your Cell Lysis

By Vicki Doronina | June 11, 2018

You’ve cultured your cells and completed your treatments, now it’s time to harvest them and proceed to the downstream effects. Cell lysis is the crucial stage that determines if your experiment has a chance of producing the data that you have been waiting for. Part of the starting biological material is inevitably lost on each…

Fishing for Kinases with Multiplex Inhibitor Bead Assays

Fishing for Kinases with Multiplex Inhibitor Bead Assays

By Vicki Doronina | May 18, 2018

There is something about kinases that resemble ghosts. Their effects reveal their presence, but they can be difficult to catch. With a low abundance of hundreds or even tens of molecules per cell, they are difficult to detect using conventional methods such as Western blotting or mass spectrometry (MS). However, you will need to detect…

Top Five Methods for Primary Antibody Labeling

Top Five Methods for Primary Antibody Labeling

By Vicki Doronina | May 4, 2018

In any application that uses antibodies for signal detection (e.g., Western blotting, ELISA, immunohistochemistry, or FACS), there are two approaches to antibody labeling: direct and indirect labeling. Standard Western blotting uses indirect labeling because you use a primary antibody to detect the target antigen, followed by a secondary antibody to which a detection molecule is…

Nil by Mouth: Evolution from the Glass Pipette to the Robot

Nil by Mouth: Evolution from the Glass Pipette to the Robot

By Vicki Doronina | March 14, 2018

If you compare a biologist with a cook and the lab with the kitchen, the pipette will be analogous to the most important cooking tool – the knife. But while the knife’s design has remained more or less the same since man moved from stone to metal some five to twelve thousand years ago, laboratory…

s-curve

Why Isn’t My Culture Growing? The S-Curve Explained

By Vicki Doronina | December 7, 2017

Whether you work with human cell lines or microbes, their growth is governed by the same principles. I invite you to learn about something that lies at the base of any work with cell culture, whether cells have circular or linear chromosomes: the S-curve of the population growth. The length of each phase depends on…

Flashing Red Signs During a Job Interview

By Vicki Doronina | August 23, 2017

In all the stress of having a job interview, it’s easy to forget that it takes more than one to tango. In fact, a job interview is like a new flat mate interview. While your prospective boss and colleagues are interviewing you and assessing your fit for the lab, you should also keep your eyes…

sandwich technique

The Sandwich Technique: How to Dish Out Critique

By Vicki Doronina | July 19, 2017

How time flies. One day you are giving your first presentation in front of your fellow students, seemingly the next you are listening to a presentation by your own student. And frankly, the talk is awful. It’s twice the time limit, the student weaves around the topic as a drunken sailor, and she acknowledges her…

Top 5 of the most commonly used cell lines!

Top 5 of the most commonly used cell lines!

By Vicki Doronina | April 13, 2017

Cell lines are an invaluable scientific tool. They allow us to dissect the internal workings of tissues in a controlled environment without the ethical implications of working with whole organisms. Starting with the first successful immortal cell line HeLa, the number of available cell lines has since diversified into a plethora of options. Just like model…

Setting up a Fermentation or Perpetuum Mobile Cell Culture

Setting up a Fermentation or Perpetuum Mobile Cell Culture

By Vicki Doronina | April 10, 2017

Some names are confusing. For example, ant-lion is not an ant – or a lion. Likewise, fermentation in the scientific sense does not involve using a ferment or brewing beer. In science, fermentation is the setting up of a long-term culture of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells. Fermentation is invaluable in providing a steady flow of…

digest proteins

How to Use Proteases to Purposefully Digest Proteins

By Vicki Doronina | August 25, 2016

In this article I will not talk about ‘wild’ proteases, which destroy cellular proteins in your lysates like wolves destroy sheep. Instead, I’ll be talking about the shepherd dog proteases—purified, tame and useful to digest proteins your research. In Protein Research and Crystallization Several programs can predict your protein domains. However, we wet biologists know…

plasmid yield

How to Improve Plasmid Yield Using Antibiotics

By Vicki Doronina | August 23, 2016

After the initial excitement of growing and isolating plasmid DNA, routinely preparing plasmid mini/midi/maxi preps gets boring. You definitely want a way to squeeze the maximum amount of plasmid DNA out of your culture. Good news—you can increase your plasmid yield using antibiotics. Keep the Pressure On to Improve Plasmid Yield Remember that you need…

medical writer

How to Become a Medical Writer

By Vicki Doronina | August 8, 2016

If there is one profession that benefited from globalization, it is the medical writer. While the university research groups shrink and global biomedical companies fire their research stuff, medical writing companies are expanding, providing stable jobs with good salaries. The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) reported in 2011 that the median salary of an experienced…

glycosylation

How Sweet is Your Protein: Using Enzymes to Study Glycosylation

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

Most eukaryotic proteins exist as several isoforms, differing in posttranslational modifications, which allows them to perform slightly different functions or the same function under slightly different conditions. A common posttranslational modification of proteins is glycosylation.

express proteins

How to Express Proteins Across Kingdoms: Prokaryotes vs Eukaryotes

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

In the sci-fi novel Terminal World by Alistair Reynolds, a planet consists of zones with defined characteristics of matter interactions on a subatomic level. These conditions permit different levels of technology sophistication in various zones. For example, in the “Steamville zone” nothing more complicated than steam engines works – electronic schemes fuse irreversibly. Something like…

More Than a Clever Name: Northern Blots

More Than a Clever Name: Northern Blots

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

You might think Northern Blots are an old-fashioned technique. However, qRT-PCR is prone to false positives and negatives, and reviewers may require Northern Blot confirmation of your qRT-PCR results. So sometimes Northern Blots are a necessary evil.

Sanger Sequencing: How the Genome Was Won

Sanger Sequencing: How the Genome Was Won

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

I’ve never run a sequencing gel in my life, but people around me did, and they spent a lot of time on getting it just right. Although the principle described by Sanger in 1975 sounds straightforward (1), sequencing gels are very long and very thin – less than a millimeter thick! They were easy to…

lifecycle science

Lifecycle of a Scientific Technique

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

Research laboratory techniques come and go now faster than ever. What is very cool today will not fly even in a thesis tomorrow. This article provides an overview of the method lifecycle.

ethidium bromide

Burning bright: a brief history of ethidium bromide DNA staining

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

For several decades, Ethidium Bromide (EtBr) was the molecular biologist’s default dye for DNA staining. Now, EtBr is being consigned to the history books. It’s time to have a historical look at where it all started.

How to Deal with Stress of a Research Project Examination

How to Deal with Stress of a Research Project Examination

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

A scientist’s life is full of stress. An experiment is not working— stress, experiment working but producing results opposite to the previous one— stress, somebody using the last of the reagent you need now— more stress. But these are unexpected stresses, small and overcome easily. The ‘planned stresses’ such as meetings with your supervisor or…

An image of rusted railings to depict rust in your incubator.

What To Do About Rust in Your Incubator

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

Rust spots provide a good shelter for bugs, which will get there one day, and from the rust into your tissue culture. Here’s what you can do to deal with the problem as soon as you see it.

Blot detection method

The Lab Detective: Finding the Right Blot Detection Method

By Vicki Doronina | July 9, 2016

When it comes to registering the signal output of your Southern/Northern/Western/probe hybridization, you are spoilt for choice these days. You can go all retro and use X-ray film. You can go digital and use a phosphorimager. Finally, you can go fluorescent and use a fluorescence detector. So, what are the pros and cons of each…

Top Tips for Yeast Microscopy

Top Tips for Yeast Microscopy

By Vicki Doronina | May 19, 2015

Microscopy is one of the fun parts of working with yeast. If you fix your cells, you can get a snapshot of the structures. Live cells microscopy using fluorescent proteins tagged proteins is even better, as you can see the dynamics and cell machinery working before your own eyes. Light Microscopy to Check for Contamination…

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