Biology Fun-damentals

Apr 06, 2017

Ethereal Expression

Posted in:  ·  Art  My Research

My image, Ethereal Expression, was included as a semi-finalist in the University of Illinois Image of Research (2017). The entries represented a diverse set of fields including Math (honorable mention) and Library and Information Science (winner). Its wonderful to see the variety of research here at the university!

Two stickleback eggs - the left egg is transgenic and glows red under UV light while its sibling is unaffected. Read more…

Aug 10, 2016

Gene Cloning: vectors, plasmids, ligations, and transformation - oh my!

What is the goal or what is gene cloning?
The goal is to get a single copy of the gene from an animal and into an archive. The rest is just the individual steps necessary to do this.

Step Description Biology Jargon
1     Get a copy of the gene from the animal PCR
2     Put the gene in an archival format Ligation into a plasmid
3     Make backup copies or archive it Bacterial transformation
4     Confirm that the copies match the original    Sequence the insert
5     Retrieve a copy to use Miniprep

What is a vector?
A vector is a small, self contained piece of DNA that can be added to an organism, typically bacteria.

Read more…

Aug 09, 2016

Genes, Phenotypes and Traits

Posted in:  ·  Introductory

Genes and Phenotype

Important concepts:

  • Gene
  • Phenotype

We are constantly seeing both news articles as well as scientific publications on new genes - the new gene for intelligence, cancer or happiness. So lets start at the beginning by figuring out what a gene is. Simply, its a way to refer to inherited traits.

There are a wide variety of traits that are controlled by genes. Flower color is a pretty obvious trait, so lets use a flower that comes in both white and red as an example. We call the specific ...

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The basic but complex pieces of biology: DNA, RNA, & Proteins (aka Central Dogma)

Posted in:  ·  Introductory

All of biology functions around the core of DNA, RNA and Proteins or the so called Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. The key here is that you always go in the order of DNARNA→protein. You can’t jump from DNA to protein or visa versa; it just doesn’t happen. However, you don’t have to go all the way. Just because you made RNA doesn’t automatically mean it will be a protein. This is also not necessarily a one-to-one relationship. One RNA can be used to make several copies of the exact same protein.

Why do I care?
Because a gene can be looked at in each step of the DNARNA→protein progression. We look at all the different steps because how a gene is functioning can be regulated or changed at any point. However, in all cases, we are still interested in the gene..

Biological Levels explained through the anology of a book.

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Aug 08, 2016

The Goal of this Site

Posted in:  ·  Science

When reading this blog, please relax, enjoy the journey that is scientific learning and remember that science is for everyone.

I hope to bring techniques to you in digestible bites and maybe even point to their elegant use in the literature. Posts will included an explanation level rating. You may note that with these different levels, some techniques may get multiple entries at different levels, but not all will. I personally believe that any technique can be explained at even the simplest level.

Guide to Explanation Levels

Introductory is intended for a general, non-scientist audience (middle school or above), including those scared by science. Expect analogies and a focus more on the purpose behind a technique.

General is aimed at anyone with an interest (but not necessarily training) in science. This will include more on the logic behind the technique and its application (use and conclusions).

Detailed is reseved for biologist-in-training, as it will include some discussion of the measurement involved in the technique, which may be beyond the interest of a casual reader. However, the level of detail will still be at that of an introduction rather than a protocol. Additionally, this will be where differences in variants on the technique will be discussed in greater depth.

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May 05, 2016

The Art of Science 6.0

Posted in:  ·  Art  My Research

My image was included in the Art of Science 6.0 (2016). This is a wonderful opertunity to work with local artist to bring science to a larger audiance. The artwork was featured at Gallery 217.

Original Image Artistic Reinterpretation
The Mind that Knows Itself
H & E stained saggital stickleback brain section with nuclei in purple and lipids in pink.          Artistic reinterpretation including bright colors.
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