Want the greatness of glycerol without the gunk? Try preparing an 80% glycerol solution. It’s way easier to work with! Here’s a practical look at how you can do it. 

Today’s lab trick, the finger flick! I learned from a mentor in undergrad, that flicking the bottom of tubes to create a manual vortex is one of the best ways to mix things gently. Just flick, flick, flick, then (typically) pulse spin in a microfuge to draw that flicked liquid down to the bottom of the tube. Microfuges are great for that, but not great for mixing! So flick, invert, pipet up and down, etc. when you want to mix. And for really tough stuff, like resuspending cell pellets or breaking up a clumpy solid you’re trying to dissolve, go to the real vortex – but don’t use that for things you don’t want to “break”! (don’t use that real vortex for things like mixtures with enzymes, genomic DNA, definitely NOT competent cells).  For those things, a finger flick is fabulous! 

Lab labeling – do it! And do it well! So you don’t say “what’s this tube, I can’t tell…” 

Flash freeze fishing – and other tricks for snap freezing eppendorf tubes in liquid nitrogen. More on the science behind flash freezing here: http://bit.ly/flashfreezingdance

Tips for loading PAGE gels – the strategy that works for me. Practice makes perfect but when it comes to pipetting sample into a PAGE gel well, here are some tips that I hope will help you excel! 

Random tips for working with DNA/RNA spin columns

Be careful taking the column in and out so you don’t contaminate your sample and ruin what the whole column’s all about! 

More on how these columns work: http://bit.ly/spincolumns

Some solid solutions to making solutions (or at least some bubbly tips) – post here: https://bit.ly/solution_tips

Microcentrifuging – some tips and tricks to be using!

PCR tube rack – quick lab hack! Tape together 2 empty micropipet tip racks and you’ve got yourself a PCR tube rack! Simple but does the trick! 

Some quick tips for when liquid jumps back & gets stuck in your tips! And how to prevent it from happening. Spoiler alert – keep your thumb down until all the liquid is out AND the pipet is out! (that’s what it’s all about!)

Random tips for choosing & using micropipettes. Just some more things I forgot to mentioned before, including:

  • for greatest accuracy, choose the smallest pipet that will pipet your volume
  • when pipetting small volumes, look to make sure you actually drew up & dispensed the liquid (it can be hard to see!)
  • open tubes before loading tip…
  • take tips in order to help you keep track

Core Facilities and Shared Research Resources. Not every lab has all the expertise or the equipment for every part of projects they want to do. And/or they don’t want to spend their limited time doing aspects of a project that don’t make the best use of the expertise they do have. Therefore, schools and research institutions often have core facilities for things like sequencing, mass spectrometry, imaging, antibody production, media making, etc. These cores provide physical services as well as consultations, often training, and sometimes access to equipment for you to use yourself. There are sometimes facilities with shared research resources like microscopes, incubators, qPCR machines, electrophoresis machines, etc. (ours is called the Center for Advanced Technology, CAT, and it’s really cool! You can also often (with permission of course!) use equipment in nearby labs and there are often listservs, Slack channels, and good ole word-of-mouth to help you find things you need (typically start by talking to trainees in the lab). So look into your options were you work. And remember, scientific sharing is caring! And people are often happy to try to help if they can. Another option can be formal collaborations with other labs who have expertise in an area. A really great thing about UCSF is it’s super duper collaborative, so labs are always working with one another. And I love it!

Clipboard managers are your friend! Random tip, but these are so useful but I didn’t discover them until grad school! Basically they automatically save things you copy and let you quickly recopy them. I use one called CopyClip (not a paid endorsement!) and it puts a little paperclip icon in my top computer bar where I can see the last 20 (you can set it for more or less) and I just have to click on them to re-copy them so I can paste them. This has saved me on so many occasions!  

Here’s a link to CopyClip https://apps.apple.com/us/app/copyclip-clipboard-history/id595191960?mt=12  

 And info about PC ones – looks like something called ClipClip is popular: https://techpp.com/2022/02/10/best-clipboard-managers-for-windows/