Taralyn Tan Ph.D. Curriculum Fellow Harvard Medical

These time-saving apps give researchers good reason to be thankful.

Is there an app for that? If there is, you should check if it's in GEN's Best Science Apps first! Every month, we bring you a list of the best biotech- and biopharma-related apps we think you, GEN reader, would find useful and/or interesting. Here is our most recent list of Best Science Apps. Enjoy!

Four stars: Excellent
Three stars: Very Good
Two stars: Good
+ Strong points
Weak points

Eyetube ★★★★

Platform: iPad/iPhone
Cost: Free
+ Very large video collection
Some videos don’t include much description

Similar to the popular video site YouTube—but not for the squeamish—the Eyetube app provides free access to a large collection of surgical videos for ophthalmologists. (In fact, the app description states that this video collection is the “world’s largest online surgical video archive dedicated to ophthalmologists.”) Within the app there exist different channels that focus on specific aspects or cases such as glaucoma, laser vision correction, and cataract surgery. Users can also choose to browse the most recent videos, or use the search bar to search for a specific item. Beyond simply showcasing surgical videos, the app also includes channels for product demos and professional development. Each video itself is accompanied by a short description, and many of the videos are narrated. Users can email or share specific videos on social media.

Eyetube for iPad and iPhone

iTeach Chemistry-Lite ★★

Platform: iPad/iPhone
Cost: $0.99 (for complete chapter unlock)
+ Introduction to various aspects of chemistry
Annoying ads, some glitches with interface

Equipped with a periodic table and educational chemistry content, the iTeach Chemistry-Lite app is a nice resource for new students of the subject. The app is free and includes three chapters (basic chemical measurements, atoms and elements, and chemistry of the elements); however, it costs only $0.99 to unlock the remaining eight chapters, which include topics such as chemical reactions and very introductory primers (only about a page or so) to nuclear, organic, and biochemistry. Based on the aesthetic and content of the app, it is difficult to identify the intended target audience. The cartoon interface, for example, suggests younger students, while the derivative and integration equations in some of the chapters obviously imply older students. In any case, there is not much depth to the content, so it is intended as an introductory resource.

iTeach Chemistry-Lite for iPad and iPhone

100% Physics—Textbook and Reference ★★

Platform: iPad/iPhone
Cost: $1.99
+ Organizational structure, can access without Internet
Composed of just Wikipedia content pages

While this app bills itself as a physics textbook, anyone who is familiar with Wikipedia will immediately recognize that the app is simply comprised of Wikipedia pages for a number of topics in physics. However, that doesn’t render this app useless…it’s just a bit less inspired than one may have hoped. There is definitely something to be said for the convenience of having a large collection of physics-related Wikipedia pages at one’s fingertips, downloaded to one’s phone, and therefore accessible even when one does not have Internet access. There are organizational benefits as well. In this app, content is organized into 10 categories that include topics such as mechanics, magnetism, and theory of relativity—an organizational structure that does not exist on Wikipedia’s site. Thus, while the total content of this app can be found online, it would require many more hours of Wikipedia browsing.

100% Physics—Textbook and Reference for iPad and iPhone

Reaction101 ★★★★

Platform: iPad/iPhone
Cost: Free
+ Different sketcher modes, good tutorials
Unclear how to change sketcher mode once selected

With the power of desktop chemical drawing software, the Reaction101 app allows users to easily draw, edit, and save publication-quality chemical structures and reactions from their mobile devices. Users can choose from three sketcher modes when they first download the app, which vary in the degree of gesture-based functionality (either more closely resembling the traditional desktop drawing apps or optimized for mobile devices) and steepness of the learning curve. Within the app, users can view demos, link to an online help site, and also get hints by tapping on the light bulb icon in the top right corner. The app comes with a number of starting templates, as well as a freely accessible public collection of common chemical reactions that have already been drawn out. For their own drawings, users can easily edit and adjust the stoichiometry of their reactions, as well as export the final products via email or the clipboard.

Reaction101 for iPad and iPhone

Knee Decide ★★★★

Platform: iPad/iPhone
Cost: Free
+ Beautifully designed, great animations

One in a series of excellent, free medical apps by Orca Health, Knee Decide provides patients, medical professionals, and students with great resources on—you guessed it—the knee. These include a 3D anatomical model of the knee—complete with an animation feature that depicts how the muscles and ligaments work as the knee bends—that is accompanied by anatomical labels and alternative views highlighting different bones, ligaments, and muscles. Beyond the static anatomical model, the app includes animations depicting a number of common knee ailments such as ACL tear, arthritis, and patellar tendinitis. Finally, the “procedures” section of the app includes actual surgical videos and animations illustrating various knee repair procedures. The app is very nicely designed, looks beautiful, and is a great resource to medical professionals and patients alike.

Knee Decide for iPad and iPhone

Chemical Valence ★★★

Platform: iPad/iPhone
Cost: $0.99
+ Interactive education
Not much of a tutorial given

If you think back hard enough to your very first chemistry class, maybe you’ll remember drawing out Lewis electron dot structures when you were first learning about chemical bonds. Nowadays, students have it easier because the Chemical Valence app makes the concepts of valence and shared electrons more intuitive via an interactive interface. Here, students drag electrons from different atoms together to “draw” Lewis electron dot structures and build molecules. Once the electrons are placed in the correct positions, bonds form and ultimately the app displays a 3D rendering of the newly created molecule. The exercises proceed in increasing complexity and difficulty, from the formation of single bonds and lone electron pairs, to multiple bonds and small molecules, to polyatomic anions, and finally to octet exceptions.

Chemical Valence for iPad and iPhone

Want more Best Science Apps? Click here! Also, to suggest an app for Best Science Apps, please send a link to Taralyn Tan ([email protected]).

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