The Team

Collaboration and innovation are at the core of High-Value Nutrition’s approach. To address the challenge of developing a suite of new, high-value food products that people here and overseas choose to stay healthy and well, High-Value Nutrition is drawing upon the collective knowledge of scientists across New Zealand’s research, science and technology organisations. The scientists involved come from across New Zealand and are focused on developing the knowledge needed to take New Zealand in new directions.

Together, we take a multidisciplinary and integrated approach to achieving scientific outcomes and developing resources that are acceptable and useful for New Zealand food and beverage exporting businesses.


Joanne Todd Challenge Director High-Value Nutrition
Joanne Todd Challenge Director

Challenge Director

Joanne joins the High-Value Nutrition team from Fonterra Co-operative Limited, where for over 20 years she has held several nutrition and innovation management roles with a focus on combining business development, science, regulatory and marketing activities, with an emphasis on Asian export markets.

She has led and developed globally based cross-functional teams to deliver on a portfolio of projects, and has built up consumer insight, clinical research and product development programmes that have delivered successful commercial outcomes increasing revenue for consumer brands business.

Joanne has worked across many areas including maternal, paediatric, immunity and mobility platforms, bringing vast experience in consumer led innovation, combined with commercial acumen and understanding of the global consumer goods market and international regulatory environments.

Joanne commenced oversight of the High-Value Nutrition Challenge as Challenge Director from August 2016.

Professor Martin Kussmann Chief Scientist
Chief Scientist Martin Kussmann

Chief Scientist

Martin Kussmann comes to us from the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) in Switzerland where he was Head of the Molecular Biomarkers Core. Martin built this program from scratch, covering the five research areas of proteomics, metabonomics, lipidomics, micronutrient analysis and diagnostics. He managed a Systems Nutrition Group, which develops and conducts biology-oriented nutrition and health research in the context of healthy ageing with a focus on cognitive, metabolic and intestinal health.

He is also Honorary Professor for Nutritional Science at the Faculty of Science, Aarhus University, Denmark, and lectures at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne (EPFL). He has led the Functional Genomics Group at the Nestlé Research Centre, Lausanne, and was responsible for nutrigenomics and nutri(epi)genetics. Martin will spend half of his time as Professor of Systems Biology in Nutrition and Health at the Liggins Institute within the University of Auckland.

Science theme leaders

High-Value Nutrition brings together experienced scientists from the country's major research institutions to lead the Challenge's priority research themes. These scientists are the Challenge Science Leadership Team. 

Metabolic health: Professor Sally Poppitt, Fonterra Chair of Human Nutrition, University of Auckland

Science of food: Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh, Director of the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology

Healthy infants: Assoc Professor Clare Wall, Faculty of Medical and Health Science, University of Auckland

Digestive health:Professor Nicole Roy, Principal Scientist, Food Nutrition and Health, AgResearch

Consumer insights: Dr Roger Harker, Science leader Consumer and Product Insights, Plant and Food Research

Enhanced immunity: Dr Olivier Gasser, Leader Translational Immunology, Malaghan Institute

Vision Matauranga: Dr Meika Foster, Director, Edible Research



Operations Manager

Robyn Nesbitt has  joined the team after working in operations management with Compass Group NZ Ltd, across a range of sectors over the past five years. She studied nutrition and dietetics with the University of Otago and has a passion for both food and health. Robyn works closely with the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge research and industry groups. 

Senior Communications and Marketing Advisor

Gilbert Wong has held senior roles in the communications and media sectors. He led communications for the Auckland DHB and the Human Rights Commission. Gilbert also held senior writer and editor roles for the New Zealand Herald and Metro magazine and has edited business and corporate publications here and in Hong Kong. 



Eleanor Surtida

Operations Administrator

Eleanor is an administrator with nearly a decade of experience and understanding of research environments in the tertiary education sector. She is committed to supporting science programmes which make a difference to people’s lives. She works across two National Science Challenges, High-Value Nutrition and A Better Start.