Click to Enlarge

At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator, Updated Edition

Subject Area(s):  Career DevelopmentHandbooksLaboratory Techniques

By Kathy Barker, The Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle

Download the Preface and Excerpt from Chapter 1

© 2005 • 465 pp., illus., appendices, index
Book •
ISBN  978-1-621824-47-3

Buy the print book on Amazon.

Some of our books are temporarily unavailable to order in print format directly from CSHL Press. In the meantime we invite you to order these titles on Amazon. Please contact us with any questions.

eBook$60.97 $45.73 Add To Cart

Bulk discounts available for your lab or class. Click here to inquire.

eBooks use Adobe Digital Editions software. Click here for more information.

  •     Description    
  •     Contents    
  •     Reviews    
  •     Related Titles    


At the Bench is the unique and hugely successful handbook for living and working in the laboratory, an essential aid to understanding basic lab techniques and how research groups work at a human level. In this newly revised edition, chapters have been rewritten to accommodate the impact of computer technology and the Internet, not only on the acquisition and analysis of data, but also on its organization and presentation. Alternatives to the use of radiation have been expanded, and figures and illustrations have been redrawn to reflect changes in laboratory equipment and procedures.

Wise, light-hearted, but thoroughly practical, Dr. Barker offers advice, moral support, social etiquette, and professional reassurance along with assume-nothing, step-by-step instructions for those basic but vital laboratory procedures that experienced investigators know—but may not realize novices don’t.

If you are a graduate student, a physician with research intentions, or a laboratory technician, this book is indispensable. If you have to manage or mentor such people, giving a copy to each of them will greatly improve your life, and theirs.

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.

Dr. Barker invites you to send any comments or questions to her.


SECTION 1. Getting Oriented
Chapter 1: General Lab Organization and Procedures
Chapter 2: Laboratory Setup and Equipment
Chapter 3: Getting Started and Staying Organized
SECTION 2. Plotting a Course
Chapter 4: How to Set Up an Experiment
Chapter 5: Laboratory Notebooks
Chapter 6: Presenting Yourself and Your Data
SECTION 3. Navigating
Chapter 7: Making Reagents and Buffers
Chapter 8: Storage and Disposal
Chapter 9: Working without Contamination
Chapter 10: Eukaryotic Cell Culture
Chapter 11: Bacteria
Chapter 12: DNA, RNA, and Protein
Chapter 13: Radioactivity
Chapter 14: Centrifugation
Chapter 15: Electrophoresis
Chapter 16: Microscopy


review:  “Any typical laboratory possesses a vast amount of various basic science books and technical manuals used in day–to–day work. However, in most cases, these volumes provide only narrow technical or basic scientific expertise, leaving out numerous issues directly related to the skills of equipment use, experiment performance, laboratory politics, and communication of the scientific data, as well as many other aspects of laboratory work. As a consequence, in most laboratories, those skills are passed on as “oral folklore” from senior staff to newcomers. At the Bench represents a fine example of a laboratory manual that fills this gap. The book provides, in a simple and unambiguous language, guidance for many issues usually left out in ‘regular’ laboratory manuals....

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

review:  In an article on Science's career development website, Laura Bonetta describes how the books An Illustrated Chinese-English Guide for Biomedical Scientists, At the Bench, and At the Helm have helped foreign scientists adapt to working in the United States.

Related Titles

You may be interested in these related titles:

Lab Ref, Volume 2, A Handbook of Recipes, Reagents, and Other Reference Tools for Use at the Bench
Lab Ref, Volume 1, A Handbook of Recipes, Reagents, and Other Reference Tools for Use at the Bench
$25 $17.50
Lab Math: A Handbook of Measurements, Calculations, and Other Quantitative Skills for Use at the Bench, 2nd edition
$65 $52.00