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At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator, Updated Edition Spiral-bound

ISBN-13: 978-0879697082 ISBN-10: 0879697083 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 465 pages
  • Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 2nd edition (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879697083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879697082
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 4.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Barker has wisely identified many aspects of laboratory work not usually covered by "conventional" manuals, making her book one of the rarest sources for vital information required for any successful scientist. Overall, the volume is superbly written, and reading is made pleasurable by multiple hilarious remarks from the author. It is highly recommended for anyone working in research -- from undergraduate students to primary investigators, either in academy or industry. In my opinion, this is a "must have" volume for any laboratory.
- The Quarterly Review of Biology

About the Author

Kathy Barker received her B.A. in Biology and English, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Microbiology, from various branches of the University of Massachusetts. She did her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Viral Oncology at Rockefeller University and was an Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Cell Physiology and Immunology at Rockefeller University. She is now based in Seattle, where she writes and gives workshops on various aspects of running a lab.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
This is a book you'll want to buy in order to read, and re-read again.
Michael Wood
This book serve as great references and explain basic laboratory concepts very well and easy to understand!
Raquel M. Suro
If you haven't had a lab course before then this is a great book for you.
Amy White

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 1999
Format: Spiral-bound
"At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator" by Dr. Barker is a marvelously crafted, enormously useful and entertaining guide for the laboratory neophyte. Dr. Barker has managed to distill the collective wisdom and intuitive flair of experimentalists of the last three decades into a a survival kit no bench worker should be without. While the purpose of the book is to introduce the wonders and terrors of the lab to the uniniatiated the wealth of useful information contained in this volume make it a valuable addition for the more sophisticated bench scientist. I don't know of a single volume which provides everything from buffer recipes to half-lifes of common isotopes, principles of centrifugation to growth media for bacterial strains, to name but a few examples.
The volume follows the new lab worker from his first day on the job through the ins and outs of assimilating into the lab. Tips are provided on who runs the show (the secretary and senior tech) to how to get started (do an experiment the first week). The reader is instructed on how to make friends, when to speak up and when to hold back. While much of this advise is simple common sense, having it made explicit is no doubt reassuring and worthwhile. Dr. Barker makes it clear that the integrity of the data are paramount, as they should be, and this message is explicit. The majority of the volume gets down to the nuts and bolts and getting the experiments done, describing equipment (and providing delightful drawings labelling everything from the shaker to the HPLC), instructing on good technique and providing the kind of useful tables to make sure what needs to get autoclaved does and what doesn't is sterile filtered.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 29, 2003
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful resource for any lab that has rotating personnel. Often, experienced researchers don't have the time or interest to orient new people but it's all here, and I would be surprised if even an experienced scientist could read through this whole manual without finding useful information.
The author uses common sense and a casual style, and assumes that the reader knows nothing. Early chapters explore BASIC basics, like getting along with colleagues, getting started the first week, questions to ask, and safety procedures; lab setup and equipment; and organization. Later chapters discuss designing and setting up experiments, using a lab notebook, presenting data, making reagents, including storage and disposal, and working in a sterile environment. Final chapters detail work with eukaryotic cell cultures, bacteria, dna/rna/protein, radioactivity, centrifugation, electrophoresis and a light microscope. Along the way, the reader will learn how to format a journal article, work in a hood, or stay in touch with the PI. The only thing missing is library research, but since this is a bench guide that seems a forgivable omission.
Spiral bound and formatted for easy access and understandability, the volume concludes with a glossary and a good index. Black and white line drawings and pictures identify items found in labs and illustrate techniques from pipetting to making entries in a notebook.
This is not a textbook written by someone who's never worked in a laboratory; it is a sensible, intelligent guide -- the dream tour you'd like to have each of your technicians or students given if you only had the time! Also handy if a person is having problems and you want to refer them to written material. Any working lab could benefit from the addition of this volume. Fabulous.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Erin Dobrinen on December 1, 2005
Format: Spiral-bound
There are so many things that classes don't teach you! This book can instantly teach the new laboratorian things that experienced laboratorians know but won't share such as: whether to autoclave or filter sterilize or how to be approach someone for help. A lab is full of volatile things the most dangerous of which are the other workers! If you've ever made an experienced lab person angry when you've moved their equipment or borrowed their reagents you'll understand how helpful this book is!

I wish I had this information when I was a student.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By V. Ayala on August 1, 2004
Format: Spiral-bound
If you are a first timer to the lab setting as I was 3 yrs ago, this is a great book to have as a reference. Kathy Baker covers lab etiquette, lab lingo, bacteria, mammalian cells, DNA, RNA and safety. Everything a good lab technician should know. Diagrams give you insight to unfamiliar equipment and she provides notable references if you need more information. The great thing about this book is that it provides you with the basic tools you need to get started at a low cost. Once you have read this book you'll be ready to take on more in depth literature without hesitation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "to_the_cats" on February 1, 2004
Format: Spiral-bound
As other reviewers have already said, this is a wonderful book for navigating the laboratory, especially if you are like me, and have only a little lab experience. It covers everything from basic sterile technique and media-making to working with antibodies and radioactive materials.
At least as helpful as the introduction to lab skills is the introduction to people skills and proper lab etiquette. This book contains some invaluable resources for getting good work done, working well with others, and not stepping on anyone's toes in the process. Given how opaque lab society can sometimes be for newcomers, this is a wonderful resource.
While this book may a bit on the pricey side, it makes a great reference, and is sturdy enough to be lent out to colleagues, assistants, stuedents and new hires time and time again.
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