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

Are you statistically less likely to die than Justin Bieber - Nano Girl

May 29, 2014

Stardom seems to be a really risky business according to the BMJ open journal research paper “Dying to be famous: retrospective cohort study of rock and pop star mortality and its association with adverse childhood experiences“. In my KiwiFM science chat this week I looked at the statistics behind celebrity deaths and the strong conclusion…

Can howling like a wolf make you feel happier? - Nano Girl

May 13, 2014

As a scientist I often come across journal papers that show weird and wonderful science I wish I had been involved in, either because they are totally bizarre or they are super cool. Realising that many of these articles sit in the cobweb filled archives of an online library somewhere, dreaming of seeing the light of day again, I’ve decided to dedicate my new weekly science show on Kiwi FM to discussing science that I think is a little bit different. Today was the first show of the weekly series which will go out at 7:40am on Wednesday mornings and the first study that caught my eye was a study published in the journal Psychological Reports titled “Effects of laughing, smiling, and howling on mood“. You can listen to the segment again by clicking below: … Read More

Science News Roundup 7th May 2014 - Nano Girl

May 06, 2014

In this mornings science roundup on TV3’s Breakfast Firstline show I covered three different topics that had caught my eye over the past 7 days. The first was about how new research gives further insight into how fibre not only affects bacteria in the gut but also neurons in the hypothalamous to reduce our apetite,…

How to charge your smartphone in 30 seconds using nanotechnology! - Nano Girl

Apr 10, 2014

With all the tweeting and checking of e-mail that I do, my phone battery barely makes it to lunchtime without needing a charge, so I was excited when I saw in the press today several articles talking about a company called StoreDot.  Apparently they have built a new battery charger that can charge a smartphone in under 30 seconds and they prove the capabilities in a video demo using a Samsung Galaxy S4 that is about to run out of battery power. First of all, let me just state that this technology is not going to make my phone’s battery life last any longer than it did previously, however it will mean that I could charge it in a few seconds which is much shorter than the hour or so I put in on charge in the middle … Read More

TV Science Roundup For 8th April 2014 - Nano Girl

Apr 08, 2014

In this weeks science roundup I decided on three very different stories from research which had been published this week including potential cures for paralysis, self destructing electronic and the science of zebra stripes. Click on the image to watch the video POSSIBLE CURES FOR PARALYSIS There were two different stories on helping to cure muscle paralysis this week, both involving a new way to help nerve cells to carry their signal.  Muscle movement is normally controlled by motor neurons which are special nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which relay signals from the brain to the muscles in the body to control motor functions.  These include functions including walking, standing and importantly – breathing. If the motor neurons are damaged due to spinal cord injuries or motor neuron disease there can be … Read More

TV science roundup for April 2nd 2014 - Nano Girl

Apr 02, 2014

On TV3’s Firstline Breakfast news show this morning I chatted about this weeks new science news based on stories that had caught my eye over the last seven days. Click on the picture to watch the video The first story was based on the research paper in PNAS entitled “Compound facial expressions of emotion“ which was published on March 31st 2014.  Research from Ohio State University created a new computational model to help map emotion in the brain with greater precision than ever before by looking at how our facial muscles move when we are showing different emotions. The study involved giving scenarios to 230 volunteers who had photographs of their face taken while they expressed how they felt emotionally to the scenario. The group were able to identify 6 basic expressions … Read More

TV science news roundup for March 26th 2014 - Nano Girl

Mar 25, 2014

In my science news roundup for breakfast news show Firstline this morning, I decided to summarise three very different stories which you can view by clicking on the video link below: The first involved a PNAS paper published on March 24th 2014 entitled “Extended lifespan and reduced adiposity in mice lacking the FAT10 gene” in which researchers found that turning off the gene FAT10 produces a variety of beneficial effects in mice. When compared to control mice, FAT10 gene deficient mice had a series of benefits including: a reduction in body fat even though the mice ate more an increase in skeletal muscle production of an immune molecule which reduced circulating insulin levels protecting against type 2 diabetes 20 percent longer lifespan So basically these mice look great, live longer, eat … Read More

Taking on Rhys Darby and Nanotech - Nano Girl

Mar 25, 2014

I’m going to start with saying that I love Rhys Darby, the man who brought life to Flight of the Conchords, Yes Man and a certain mobile phone company.  However, when I tuned into the Nerdist channel on youtube and watched the video ‘NANOTECH – Rhys Darby’s Reasons to be Scared of the Future‘ I felt like I had to say something. As a nanotechnologist who uses her science for good, not evil I am often approached by people who have a fear of nanotechnology.  When I ask them what they are scared of they mention nanobots eating their brains! Sci-Fi movies have a lot to answer for and although the Borg Collective used nanoprobes for assimilation, and Kryten’s nanobots take over the Red Dwarf ship we need to remember that this … Read More

3D Printing New Parts For Your Skull - Nano Girl

Mar 14, 2014

3D printing has had a lot of bad press recently with discussions about whether or not the recently house-passed bill extending the undetectable firearms act of 1988 should have included more legislation about 3D printed guns.  Although I think that we always need to be careful about the harm that new technologies can cause, its…