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Beth Kenkel

Beth Kenkel is currently a research scientist in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington. She is particularly interested in science communication and in vitro diagnostics. Follow Beth on twitter @ElizabethKenkel.

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DIY DNA Ladders from Penn State University

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Jul 14, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Two plasmids that can be used to make inexpensive 100 bp or 1 kb DNA molecular weight ladders were recently deposited with Addgene. A team of undergraduate students led by Dr. Song Tan at Penn State developed the plasmids, pPSU1 and pPSU2. When restriction digested with PstI or EcoRV, these plasmids generate 100 bp or 1 kb DNA ladders, respectively. Unlike many commercially available ladders, the 100 bp ladder works well for both agarose and native polyacrylamide gels.

Get Tips on Verifying Your Plasmid

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Topics: Hot Plasmids, Lab Tips

Who Gives a Tweet? 9 Facts About Scientists on Twitter

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Jun 26, 2017 9:31:32 AM

What are scientists up to on Twitter? Prior to writing this post, my interest in Twitter was fleeting. I’ve had an account for three years and have only tweeted 6 times: #fail. I’d hoped to use Twitter professionally to network, learn more about alternative careers for scientists, and share cool science. Unfortunately, it never clicked for me. Recently my interest was renewed in part due to FOMO  but mostly because of this article: “A systematic identification and analysis of scientists on Twitter.” This paper addresses the following questions about scientists on Twitter: who are they? What do they share? And how they are connected? Here are the highlights written as 8 tweetable facts.

Note: The images used in this post were created using data from or modified from Ke et al. 2017.

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Topics: Scientific Sharing, Networking

Anti-CRISPRs: Switching Off CRISPR-Cas9

Posted by Beth Kenkel on May 23, 2017 10:30:00 AM

CRISPR-Cas9 technology is constantly evolving. Variants of Cas9 can be used for genome editingactivating gene expression, repressing gene expression, and much more. But there’s one thing that’s been missing: a way to shut off Cas9’s activity after it’s been turned on. The concern is that the longer Cas9 remains active in a cell, the greater chances there are for off-target edits to occur. Although methods to switch on Cas9 activity using light or drugs have been developed, the field lacked an “off-switch” for Cas9.

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Topics: CRISPR

Multiplex Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cpf1

Posted by Beth Kenkel on May 9, 2017 10:12:15 AM

There’s a new development for CRISPR-Cpf1 genome editing!  A recent paper from Feng Zhang's lab describes how to use Cpf1 for multiplex genome editing.  For a few reasons, Cpf1 is a simplified system for editing multiple targets compared to Cas9.  Read on to learn more about Cpf1 multiplexing.  For an in-depth review of Cpf1, check out this blog post or see Addgene's CRISPR guide page for a review of Cas9.  For a brief comparison of Cpf1 vs. Cas9, see the table below.

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Topics: CRISPR

Rosella: A Fluorescent pH-Biosensor for Studying Autophagy

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Apr 13, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Rosella is a pH-sensitive fluorescent biosensor that was recently deposited with Addgene by Dr. Mark Prescott. This system was developed for monitoring and analyzing autophagy of cytosol and organelles in yeast cells. Autophagy (Greek for “self-eating”) is induced by a lack of nutrients and targets cytosol and organelles to the vacuole/lysosome for degradation and recycling. The key to Rosella’s autophagy-sensing abilities is that its fluorescence emission spectra changes when it goes from a more neutral pH compartment, ­­like the cytosol, to the higher pH of the vacuole. Read on to learn more about prior methods for studying autophagy and how Rosella improves upon them.

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Topics: Fluorescent Proteins

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