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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 pen for hire. Check out my proudest achievement, which may be useful for you: The BiteSizeBio Guide for Protein expression

Articles by Vicki Doronina:

Book review: ‘How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper’ by Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel

One of our PhD students recently became silent and withdrawn. I couldn’t understand why: he is getting a lot of results, has many friends and a popular and easy-going person in general. Then I’ve heard that our PI had told him to write a draft of his first paper and had an idea why he…

16 Sep 2013 PhD Survival

Easy Yeast RNA isolation without the Trizol

Recently BsB author Yevgeniy Grigoryev shared a total RNA isolation protocol. The one I use is even simpler – no expensive Trizol, which is a mix of phenol and some salts, all that is required is some Tris, SDS and phenol/chloroform mix. I have never used this protocol on non-yeast cells but I am almost…

09 Sep 2013 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Where to publish negative results

I met a final year PhD student once, who told me a sad story. His supervisor had a plausible idea that exercise reduces the chances of developing bowel cancer. To test the hypothesis, the student made a transgenic mouse with an increased incidence of bowel cancer and got the mice to run (or not run)…

21 Aug 2013 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Alternatives to presenting your science with Powerpoint

I was shocked recently at a seminar called  “Writing with style” by the Manchester University writer-in-residence, Chris Simms. He opened by saying that he has never done a presentation using Powerpoint in his life. What? Surely biologists and PowerPoint presentations (PPT) go together like biologists and white lab coats. They teach you to make PPTs…

29 Jul 2013 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Book Review: “Like a Virgin”, by Aarathi Prasad

While modern humans have a broad selection of contraception options, reproducing is still limited to the “egg + sperm = baby” theme whether in the bedroom or in a test-tube.  The Amazon review of Aarathi Prasad’s book, which my husband keeps calling “A lucky virgin”, promises the book “delivers an astonishing exploration of the mysteries…

15 Jul 2013 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

Science and the Media – Dos and Don’ts

Have you ever wondered how the media can write (often cringingly inaccurately) about a recently published scientific paper? Attending Standing up for Science media workshop organised by the Sense about Science charity shed a lot of light on this issue for me There are times when the media are hungry for any news, mostly during…

03 Jul 2013 Science Communication & Ethics

10 Top Everyday Items Useful in the Lab

Every research lab is full of equipment specially designed for specific technical and experimental requirements, unfortunately this means said equipment is often expensive. Thankfully there are simple and cheap everyday items which can help you with your experiments and generally make life a lot easier. 1)  Perforated metal ladle – to fish out samples from…

26 Jun 2013 Equipment Mastery & Hacks

Brahe’s Battle: Kickstarting Science With Rap

“Science” and “rap” are not the two words I expected to find in one sentence. How very small-minded of me. Much to my surprise I discovered that in 2010 Bitesize Bio had a BioPop Rap Battle between nationally-recognized Tom McFadden and a relative newcomer, Science Rapper. In this epic battle between the Cassius Clay and…

05 Apr 2013 Science Communication & Ethics

The Tale of Two Lab Management Strategies

According to the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, experimental science relies more on  scientists’ emulation of each other as apposed to theoretical knowledge; e.g. it’s more like craft, which is transferred from person to person through teaching and observing, rather than anything else. Chosen by a group leader, a lab-management strategy is self-sustaining, so I…

03 Apr 2013 Dealing with Fellow Scientists

Meet your microbes: take part in the American Gut Project

“No man is an island” said  John Donne. But if he were, every healthy man or woman would be a lavish, tropical, densely populated island. Recently, I talked to a Knight wants you to help him explore that island. Interested? Confused? Read on… The population of the human island is, of course microbes. Humans have…

20 Mar 2013 Genomics & Epigenetics

Chemistry Spies: pH meters, Buffers and You

The pH meter is probably the least understood and most abused piece of equipment in the biological lab, probably because it is an undercover agent from chemistry and only a rare biologist likes chemistry. Look over there, it stands in the corner of the lab, covered in dust, glass probe encrusted with crystals. In a…

04 Mar 2013 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

Book Review: “Coalescent”, by Stephen Baxter

This is not just one book, but loosely interconnected, two and a bit – a historical novel, a biological thriller and a science fiction short story – under one cover. The historical novel is about a girl growing up in Britain in the 5th century A.D., while the Roman rule disintegrates. Now, I am not…

18 Feb 2013 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

When Dr Harry met Dr Sally

Logically and statistically, a lab romance (= a romantic relationship between members of one lab) should not work. Most relationships fail sooner, rather than later and working in the same lab will be extremely awkward after the split, which is rarely amicable. And even when the lab romance does work becoming a long term relationship,…

14 Feb 2013 Fun Stuff

Common Sins When Weighing Out Chemicals

You can really tell when Honours Project students start working in the lab on their projects: the pH meter probe is suddenly floating in water and the weighing area is a mess, because nobody had time to explain “the weighing etiquette”. Fret no more! We will spell it out and you can print it out…

13 Feb 2013 Basic Lab Skills & Know-how

The Reproducibility Initiative: Let Them Eat Cake!

Despite obvious differences between the Korean professor-biotechnologist Hwang Woo-suk and German-born postdoc Jan Hendrik Schön, who used to work in the US on semiconductors, both of these scientists have something in common. Since Hwang Woo-suk’s and Schön’s groundbreaking articles were published in Nature and Science, nobody has been able to reproduce their results  and the…

01 Feb 2013 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Second Chance Saloon: How to Western Blot a Coomassie-stained gel

In her article How to Get Perfect Protein Transfer in Western Blotting, Emily Crow recommends Coomassie staining your gel after transfer to the membrane to check the quality of the transfer. A good transfer should not leave behind proteins and PVDF membrane, stained by 0.1% Ponceau S in  5% phosphoric acid and destained with water…

21 Jan 2013 Protein Expression & Analysis

What Is Open Access Anyway?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that free cheese exists only in a mousetrap, and even there it’s free only to the end user. So it’s no wonder that the traditional system of most scientific publications through publishing houses seems to be fair. A publishing house (PH) employs editors as well as technical personnel to…

07 Jan 2013 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Book Review: ‘The Selfish Gene’, by Richard Dawkins

A few popular science books rise above the genre and become pop-stars of the book world – bestsellers. Even fewer among them change public discourse and, finally, culture. The Selfish Gene (TSG) by Richard Dawkins is one of these rare books. Published in 1976, TSG is not only still in print, but according to the…

04 Jan 2013 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

Restriction Enzyme Wars: The Natural Function Of Restriction Enzymes

Parents  of small children attending nursery know that the period of time from September to June is a succession of colds and flues for the whole family – children with their underdeveloped immune system exchange viruses, creating new potent strains. Well, that’s probably how bacteria feel all the time in the natural environment teeming with…

14 Dec 2012 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis

Antibiotic Stability: Keep Your (Gun)powder Dry

The stability of an antibiotic depends on its chemical structure, method of isolation (from natural sources or chemical synthesis), and the mechanisms of inactivation. First generation antibiotics isolated from natural sources, such as penicillin, are the most unstable, followed by its semisynthetic derivatives (such as ampicillin and carboxycylin).  Aminoglycosides (kanamicin, spectinomycin, etc.) are more stable.…

30 Nov 2012 DNA / RNA Manipulation and Analysis