7 MORE everyday essentials of a stem cell biologist.

My transfer thesis is FINISHED!!! Finally! Which means this week, I am back to the lab bench ready to discover some more new things in the world of stem cells 🙂

Last month I wrote a post about some of the everyday essentials I use in the lab as a stem cell biologist. But being faced with the lab bench again now after a few weeks away at my desk, I have realised how many things I need to do my research everyday and how many I overlooked from my last list. Which led me to this post – 7 MORE everyday essentials of a stem cell biologist.

So, again, in no particular order:

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1) The Falcon Tube.

The saviour to all your liquid holding needs! I cannot believe I missed this one out from the previous list, as I use these in basically every task and experiment I do! They come in either 15ml or 50ml versions and I use them for storing the media to feed my cells with, making up the solution to set my Western blotting gels, they hold the water/buffers/ethanol etc I might need for my RNA extractions and they house my Western blots overnight when I probe them with an antibody. They have a simple job. But an essential one!

P.S. I also hear they are great for sneaking alcohol into clubs/festivals etc and storing flavoured syrups for your coffee 😛

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2) The Cell Culture Flask.

In my last Everyday Essentials post, I introduced to you the cell culture plate, but this time I introduce to you the cell culture flask. In my research I also do some work on cancer stem cells which I grow in these flasks depending on how many cells I need. They have the same job as the cell culture plate – to provide a home for my cells, but for reasons I don’t know some cells just don’t like being grown in certain culture flasks. For example, my embryonic stem cells are really fussy and don’t stick down in these flasks, but are much happier in the plates. Whereas my cancer stem cells will stick to anything!

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3) The Vortex.

A lot of the experiments I do need the liquid to be properly mixed together. And I mean properly and thoroughly otherwise the experiment doesn’t work! Typical science! Pressing your sample onto the top generates a whirlwind in your liquid and the perfect mix! Obviously make sure you apply enough pressure to keep your sample on the vortex and so your sample doesn’t get launched across the room in a random direction – not that I’m speaking from personal experience here :/

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4) The Test Tube Racks.

Again – another tool that comes in a varied of shapes and sizes and tries to brighten your day with their array of bright colours. Sometimes when two hands, ten fingers and thumbs, your armpit and elbow aren’t enough to hold all the tubes and reagents you need, a test tube rack is the answer to your problems. Again – another tool with a simple but essential task in the lab to keep all your sample tubes in the right order and facing the right way up!

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5) The Water Bath.

Keeping my cells happy and healthy is an absolute MUST! So, warming up the media before I feed them is on way to keep them happy! Warming the media is a task assigned to the water bath. As the name suggests, it is partially filled with water to evenly heat my media!

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6) The Duran Bottle.

A lab staple no matter what field your research is in and probably one of those things the public associates with classic lab experiments, the Duran bottle is perfect for all your liquid storage needs! Unfortunately, all of the bottles I use are full of boring colourless buffers and chemicals, but the bottles themselves to come in a variety of different shapes and sizes!

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7) The Weighing Scales.

Without these I would not be able to accurately measure out the different drugs and chemicals I need to add to my cells or make up my buffers and much more. Too much and I could kill all my cells, too little and my experiment would not work! There is not much room for error so precision is the key!

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I assure you that there are more everyday essentials – but I think after sharing 18 with you in this post and the last, anymore would be overkill! But hopefully it has given you some idea of the tools I use everyday in the lab!

What are your everyday lab essentials? What could you not live without in the lab?

S.x

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