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  • Tue, 7, Apr, 2020 - 5:00:AM

Fighting misinformation: celebrating NZ’s top science communicators

We’re all being inundated with information about the novel coronavirus right now. It’s been happening for weeks, and it seems that every Tom, Dick, and Harry with Internet access is vying for air and screen time to share their hot take. I’ve never seen so many amateur epidemiologists, so many wannabe statisticians, and festering cesspools of misinformation retweeted on social media. In times like these, it’s important to celebrate those who are doing their best to spill the evidence-based tea: Aotearoa’s top science communicators who are reducing panic, fighting misinformation, and informing the public about COVID-19 with their key messages about how to save thousands of lives.


Dr. Siouxsie Wiles MNZM (@SiouxsieW)

Unless you’ve been tramping for the last several weeks and only just emerged into civilised society, you’ve probably read, heard, or seen Dr. Siouxsie Wiles’ efforts to educate us about COVID-19.

The Associate Professor and head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland has worked tirelessly these last several weeks to make sure that the messaging getting to the public about all things SARS-CoV-2 is going, well, viral (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

She’s helped explain: the exponential nature of unchecked transmission, the way in which the virus spreads, how the testing process works, the ramifications of not staying in your bubble: (“If you don’t stay at home, then we’re going to have to stay in lockdown for longer than four weeks. Do you really want to be here for longer than four weeks?”). And so much more.

As the lockdown continues and people start to tire of the limitations to their personal mobility, her messages are going to be increasingly important in our national endeavour to flatten the curve.


Dr. Michelle Dickinson MNZM A.K.A. Nanogirl (@medickinson)

Senior lecturer in Engineering at the University of Auckland, co-founder of Nanogirl Labs Ltd, but best known by her alter-ego Nanogirl, Dr. Michelle Dickinson is another award-winning science communicator who has been indispensable in the effort to educate Kiwis.

She’s collaborated with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Chief Science Advisor Professor Juliet Gerrard on a Q&A video (prior to Alert level 4) that emphasises the need for good hand hygiene and debunks mask-related myths, she’s provided tips on how people can reduce their risk of being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 while at the supermarket, and made a series of very charming educational videos to help explain to kids how the virus works and why hand washing is so important.

Dr. Dickinson has also recently launched an online edu-series to help children aged 7 to 11 continue their engagement with STEM subjects while in lockdown. For a dollar a day, this buy-one-give-one initiative means children can still get one exciting lesson every weekday. To find out more about this venture, click here.


For further accurate information regarding COVID-19, please see here.


  • COVID-19 /
  • Science /
  • STEM /
  • Women in STEM /
  • Science communication /
  • pandemic /
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