Dr Madeline Mitchell

Research Field: Plant Sciences

Dr Madeline Mitchell aims to decrease microplastic pollution from textiles by genetically engineering renewable plant-based fibres as alternatives, including a form of cotton that won’t crease.

Artificial textiles like nylon and polyester pollute the environment by shedding microplastics when washed or worn. Dr Mitchell aims to combine the best features of natural and artificial fibres to genetically engineer renewable, biodegradable alternatives.

Clothing made from cotton is both breathable and biodegradable, but it doesn’t stretch and creases quickly without chemical treatment, whereas synthetic fibres made can be stretchy and wrinkle free. Dr Mitchell aims to produce plant-based fibres like crease-free cotton to benefit consumers, farmers and the environment.

Madeline’s public outreach includes acting as spokesperson for the CSIRO during its media launch on its work on novel fibres, numerous media interviews and engagements with school students. Dr Mitchell received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2014 and is currently Postdoctoral Fellow in Synthetic Biology with CSIRO Agriculture and Food.