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Kendall Morgan

Kendall is a science writer based in North Carolina. She has a PhD in Biology from the University of Oregon and a certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She writes about science, medicine and science culture and is dedicated to making it easier for scientists to share what they make and do with each other and the world.

Recent Posts

10 Ways to Share Your Science!

Posted by Kendall Morgan on May 13, 2014 4:34:00 PM

You've heard it before  it's important for scientists to get out there and talk about their work. To tell others why that work is cool and why it really matters! There are important societal reasons, self-interested reasons, and, given that science is largely funded by tax-payers, there are reasons to feel obligated too, as experts on the subject brought out in a Kavli Foundation Round Table.

In any field, good communication skills help when it comes to finding a job. Many people in science will work in industry or take on collaborative roles in academia, and that means it’s important to know how to talk about science to everyone – not just to others working in your own field. Alternative careers are now the norm for those (like myself) with a PhD in biology. Depending on what you want to do, that’s not necessarily bad news, but it is an argument for taking the time to hone your communication skills. So, where can a graduate student or post-doc start?

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Topics: Career, Scientific Sharing, Networking

Hot Plasmids: FRET-Based Biosensors

Posted by Kendall Morgan on May 6, 2014 9:07:55 AM

Oliver Griesbeck of the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology has been working on genetically encoded indicators of calcium and other small molecules since the very beginnings of the field. Those engineered sensors were designed to replace synthetic calcium dyes, which had been in use since the 1980s.

“Synthetic dyes were the standard in the field, but there is one problem: how to get that into the cells of interest,” Griesbeck said. Because they are chemical compounds, they have to be applied or injected, and they don’t always end up where you want them to go.

Griesbeck is motivated by a particular interest in monitoring the activity and biochemistry of living neurons in an effort to understand the connection between molecular- and cellular-level events and behavior. It’s a problem that he considers “one of the greatest challenges of neuroscience.” 

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Fluorescent Proteins

Your Lentiviral Plasmid FAQs Answered

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Apr 23, 2014 9:08:00 AM

Lentiviruses are useful and efficient tools to introduce your gene of interest into cells. Unlike gamma-retroviruses that can only infect dividing cells, lentiviruses can infect dividing and non-dividing cells. 

Addgene has an extensive collection of lentiviral plasmids created for a variety of applications including cDNA expression, shRNA-mediated knockdown, Tet and Cre-regulated expression, CRISPR genome editing, and more. Not surprisingly, we receive many questions from scientists all over the world looking for some additional information or clarification on these vectors. Read on to find the answers to our most frequently asked lentiviral questions.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Plasmid Elements, Lab Tips, Viral Vectors

Plasmids 101: The Promoter Region – Let's Go!

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Apr 3, 2014 4:05:00 PM

Thus far in our Plasmids 101 series we've worked our way through the plasmid map: antibiotic resistance, origin of replication, and so on. Up to this point we can replicate our plasmid and make sure cells maintain it; the next step is getting the plasmid to express our gene of interest. Enter the promoter-- the element responsible for initiating the transcription of your insert into RNA.

In practice, the term "promoter" describes the combination of the promoter (RNA polymerase binding site) and operators (response elements). Promoters are about 100 to 1000 base pairs long and found upstream of their target genes. The sequence of the promoter region controls the binding of the RNA polymerase and transcription factors, therefore promoters play a large role in determining where and when your gene of interest will be expressed. 

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Topics: Plasmid Elements, Plasmids 101

In Living Color: The Skinny on In Vivo Imaging Tools

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Mar 27, 2014 1:14:57 PM

If you start poking around on Addgene’s Fluorescent Protein Guide to In Vivo Imaging, you’ll pretty quickly notice the name Vladislav Verkhusha popping up again and again, and for good reason.

We all know scientists have used fluorescent proteins to observe what’s happening inside cells for at least a couple of decades. Green is the classic color, but fluorescent proteins are available in a variety of hues. While those tools are great for many applications, Verkhusha and his lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recognized their limitations for peering right through living animals to see their organs – a liver or brain, say, or maybe a tumor. They wanted to find something better.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Imaging

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