Michelle Dickinson

Dr Michelle Dickinson has degrees in both science and engineering. She teaches materials engineering at the University of Auckland but also studied biomedical engineering and loves how science in the biological world is being combined with engineering in the artificial materials world to create novel solutions to age old diseases. By day she runs a nanomechanical research laboratory where she pushes, prods and breaks all sorts of materials including gold nanoparticles for antimicrobial treatments, zinc oxide nanowires for solar cells and biological cells for disease research. By night she fills her life with adventure sports (mostly kitesurfing and snowkiting), flying planes, her dog and reading about or building new technologies. Michelle is on Twitter @medickinson

How your daughter’s future doors may already be closed by the time she is six - Nano Girl

Mar 17, 2017

Imagine you are reading a story to a child; the story goes something like this:   “There is one person at work who is really, really smart. They can figure out how to do things quickly, they come up with answers much faster and better than anyone else.  Now imagine telling this story: “There is one person at work who is really, really nice. They like to help others with their problems, they are friendly to everyone.” At the end of the story, you show pictures of adult males and females to the child and ask them which person they think was being described. What gender do you think they would pick for each story? This exact experiment was carried out alongside a series of others as part of a recent study published in the journal Science. The … Read More

Why detox diets don’t work – the science behind how your body removes toxins - Nano Girl

Mar 17, 2017

The health store shelves are filled with optimistic claims of weight loss products. It’s tempting after what may have been weeks of “I’ll start the diet tomorrow” to think about cleansing out your system to kick start your new body. Quick fix detox teas, juices and supplements are heavily marketed, enticing you to drink a magical natural potion which will rid you of your over-eating and partying sins so you can start afresh. Combinations of cayenne pepper, lemon juice and honey taste so disgusting, you might be convinced that they must be good for you, but the truth is in the scientific evidence for which there is none. In fact a 2015 review of clinical evidence about detox diets published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics concluded that there is no compelling evidence to support … Read More

How microbeads in your bodywash could be helping chemicals enter the foodchain - Nano Girl

Sep 06, 2016

In 1976 chemical engineer John Ugelstad invented a technique on earth that other scientists believed could only be carried out in the weightless conditions of space. His discovery enabled the mass production of monodisperse spheres, tiny microscopic spherical plastic beads. The beads were typically 0.5 to 500 micrometres in diameter, about the width of 1 to 5 strands of human hair. These little beads enabled new advances to be made in cancer treatments and helped create alternative methods for HIV, bacteriology and DNA research. Tiny latex beads still form the basis for some home pregnancy tests today and thanks to Uglestad’s discovery the medical use of microbeads has helped move drug treatments forward. More recently, microbeads have moved from medical additives to exfoliators found in face washes, toothpaste, body scrubs, and other everyday beauty products. The non-biodegradable solid plastic beads are … Read More

The science behind Rio’s green Olympic pool - Nano Girl

Aug 15, 2016

The green swimming pool has been one of the big mysteries of this year’s Rio Olympics. Why would one pool turn murky and green when the adjacent pool was still clear and blue? The first official line from Olympic officials was that after extensive tests, they had finally pinpointed the reason to be a chemical imbalance caused by too many people using the water. Mario Andrada, a Rio 2016 spokesman, said last Wednesday morning that “mid-afternoon, there was a sudden decrease in the alkalinity in the diving pool, and that’s the main reason the color changed,” His interview with the NY Times stated that “He noted that a lot of people had been in the pools in the past week at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, and that their presence had touched off changes in the water’s chemical balance.” … Read More

Nanotechnology helps milk bottles double the shelf life of milk! - Nano Girl

Aug 07, 2015

We have already seen milk bottles get a nanotechnology upgrade with the titanium dioxide filled Lightproof bottles used to extend the life of UV sensitive vitamin B2 in the milk.  Now Brazil is solving the problems of the low shelf life of fresh milk through nanotechnology of a different kind – Nanosilver. Fresh milk has […]

Data shows women led companies are better! - Nano Girl

Aug 05, 2015

How’s that for a conversation starting headline? Those who know my passion for diversity would expect a headline like that from me, but it actually stems from a report released this week by First round capital, a venture capital firm which provides seed funding to startups. After analysing 10 years of data covering 300 companies […]

How ants clean their antennae could help the nanotechnology industry - Nano Girl

Jul 31, 2015

Ants, the tiny insects that we usually try to get rid of in our homes are being showcased through research out this week that highlights these fascinating little creatures. Not only can they carry 50x their own body weight, but they have incredibly sensitive hairs on their antennae which allow them to smell food, follow […]

How Mythbusters inspired me to make a live science show! - Nano Girl

Jul 26, 2015

Mythbusters, we all know it, we’ve all seen it and after over 10 years on our TV screens we all have our favourite busted myth. When I found out that Mythbusters were going on tour and doing a live show, I was so excited! I imagined a real live science show full of explosions and […]

Global Impact Visas – why a technology rich New Zealand ecosystem needs them - Nano Girl

Jul 26, 2015

“One hundred inspired New Zealand entrepreneurs can turn this country around.”  Sir Paul Callaghan Those words led me to being in a really unexpected place this morning, listening to the Prime Minister give his speech at the National Party’s annual conference. I was there specifically to hear his announcement on something I’m passionate about and have recently […]