Professor Dickey received her B.S. degree in Materials Engineering from the University of Kentucky and her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University. Her first academic appointment was as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, where she was on the faculty from 1997-2001.  She then moved to the Pennsylvania State University, where she rose to the rank of full professor and served as an associate director of the Materials Research Institute until 2010. After Penn State, she moved to North Carolina State University where she became a Distinguished Professor and Associate Department Head in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Center for Dielectrics and Piezoelectrics.  In 2021, she moved to Carnegie Mellon University.

Professor Dickey is regarded as a leader in the application of electron microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to understanding the role of material defects on electrical and chemical transport in ceramic materials. She has over 200 publications, which have received over twenty-thousand citations. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and she was awarded the Fulrath Award by the American Ceramic Society in recognition of her technical contributions related to the characterization of functional ceramics and composites. Professor Dickey is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the Microscopy Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also an inductee of the World Academy of Ceramics.