Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

MAY1 2015

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) is the world's most widely read biotech publication. It provides the R&D community with critical information on the tools, technologies, and trends that drive the biotech industry.

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34 | MAY 1, 2015 | GENengnews.com | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News BEST SCIENCE APPS Links to the apps described above are posted on GEN's website, www.GENengnews.com. To suggest an app for Best Science Apps, please send a link to Taralyn Tan (ttan@GENengnews.com). Key Strong Points Weak Points Excellent Ratings Very Good Good 9 – HHHH HHH HH Lizard Evolution Virtual Lab HHHH Platform: iPad Available for Android: No Cost: Free 9 Lots of information, great graphics In this virtual lab iPad app from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), students work through four experimental modules to investigate the evolution of anole lizards in the Caribbean. The modules, which are geared toward high school and college stu- dents, have students group lizard species by physical traits, construct a phylogenetic tree from DNA sequences, and make and record measurements on lizard x-rays (while also cal- culating standard deviation and error of those measurements). The app is very well done, with quality graphics and animations, ample explanatory text and background information, and a lot of content. App users can track their progress through each module under the "progress" tab, and the "reference" section of the app contains useful supplementary documents such as additional background information, directions on how to obtain DNA sequences from the NCBI website, and instructions for performing statistical calculations. Quick Periodic Table of the Elements HHH Platform: iPad/iPhone Available for Android: No Cost: Free 9 Easy to scroll through information, various table formats – Awkward to use on iPad due to screen rotation The Quick Periodic Table of the Elements app gives users a slightly diferent take on the periodic table. Instead of just presenting a single version that's col- or-coded the traditional way (by chemical catego- ries such as alkali metals and noble gases), this app also ofers three alternatively color-coded tables for easy viewing, depending on what you're looking for. The frst color-codes based on metals, nonmet- als and metalloids; the second is grouped by valence electron confguration; and the third color-codes based on the highest-energy occupied orbital. Within these diferent table views, users can select an element and scroll through four information tabs that correspond to an element's chemical, atomic, mechanical, and physical properties. The app also includes an option to not browse the elements in a table format at all, but rather in a list that can be organized by name, atomic number, or symbol. ChemDoodle Mobile HHH Platform: iPad/iPhone Available for Android: Yes Cost: Free 9 Makes it easy to create, view, and analyze molecules – Some features restricted to customers The ChemDoodle Mobile app is the companion tablet/smartphone app to the commercial computer software of the same name. While the software costs money, the app ofers a number of free features to people who don't own the software. (Some features are for customers only.) This app provides an easy interface to draw chemical structures and subsequently view 3D renderings of the molecules. The 3D model is fully rotatable and scalable. Beyond simply drawing and visualizing molecules, users can analyze the molecules that they draw under the "calculate" and "spectra" tabs of the app. Under the "calculate" section, the IUPAC name is restricted to customers, but guest users of the app can view the molecular formula, molecular mass, molar refractivity, and other characteristics of the molecule. Users can also view predicted 13 C and 1 H NMR spectra for the molecule. Guest users can't save the draw- ings, but you can always take a screenshot of your creation. TouchPlot HHHH Platform: iPhone Available for Android: No Cost: $0.99 9 Analyzes graphs, shows easy-to-edit formulas – Freezes up on iPad There's a lot of calculation power in this little app! The TouchPlot app for the iPhone is an easy-to-use graph- ing app that allows users to plot up to three functions at once. The app comes with two diferent formula editing modes, with the default "Algebraic mode" being very us- er-friendly. The app also includes a small selection of pre- made formulas from which users can select. Upon graph- ing one or more functions, the user can zoom in and out of the graph (the axes resize as one does so), as well as use the buttons at the bottom of the graph to fnd the zero, min, max, and points of intersection on the graph. One can also easily integrate user-defned regions along the graph. Some documentation is provided within in the app, though be warned that a link that appears on the iTunes Preview page and promises to take you to the app's website, actually takes you to a French clothing store's website. Protein Purifcation for iPad HHH Platform: iPad Available for Android: Yes Cost: $1.99 9 Many diferent samples to purify, some introductory material – Not much guidance, users expected to have prior knowledge The Protein Purifcation iPad app provides a prac- tical, "hands-on" introduction to protein purifca- tion techniques such as ion exchange chroma- tography, gel fltration, and two-dimensional SDS PAGE by putting the app user in the position of a researcher who needs to purify a specifc protein from a mixture. There are multiple mixtures from which to choose (varying in the number of pro- tein components), and the app user selects which (anonymously numbered) protein to purify. From there, you're on your own. You must choose which purifcation methods to try and how to go about implementing them. After each purifcation step, you are told how much protein and enzymatic activity you have remaining, as well as the enrich- ment and yield. The app includes introduction pages explaining each technique, but users are expected to have some basic understanding of the methods. The app is a great teaching tool to supplement what you may learn about these techniques from textbooks or lectures. ReactionFlash HHHH Platform: iPad/iPhone Available for Android: No Cost: Free 9 Lots of reactions, nice quiz feature, detailed mechanism views Tired of making fashcards for organic chemistry reactions? The free ReactionFlash app includes over 250 named reac- tions in handy fashcard-like form. Each card consists of the name of the reaction, a brief description, and a drawing of the reactants and products. For a more detailed view, app users can choose to display the electron-pushing mecha- nism. Another nifty feature of these particular reaction fashcards is the ability to view real examples of each reac- tion from published literature or patents. The reactions are organized alphabetically within the app, although users can flter the results by reaction category (such as oxidations, reductions, or fragmentations). Results can also be fltered by "level" to display only basic, advanced, or master-level re- actions. An interactive quiz feature of the app presents the user with a slot machine-like display wherein the user must scroll to select the appropriate reactants and products.

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