Our People

To tātou iwi

Directorate | Ranga Whakahaere

Joanne Todd, Challenge Director | Manutaki

Joanne Todd leads the Challenge Directorate team. She joined the Challenge from Fonterra Co-operative Ltd, where for over 20 years she held several nutrition and 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 consumer insight, clinical research, and product development programmes that have delivered successful commercial outcomes increasing revenue for Fonterra’s consumer brands business. Her experience includes work 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.


Professor Richard Mithen, HVN Chief Scientist | Kaipūtaiao Matua HVN

Richard Mithen is a Professor of Human Nutrition at the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland and Chief Scientist for the New Zealand High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. Following a PhD at the University of East Anglia and several years working in south central Africa on the conservation of wild crop relatives, Richard was a group leader at the John Innes Centre and Professor of Crop Science at the University of Nottingham prior to moving to the Institute of Food Research in 2003. Richard has played a major role in the development of the Quadram Institute, a new institute on the Norwich Research Park that combines food and nutritional science with human microbiome research and clinical expertise. Richard’s major research interests are at the interface between crop and food science and human nutrition. Richard migrated to New Zealand in 2019. More information about Professor Mithen’s role within HVN can be watched here.

Dr Jane Mullaney

Dr Jane Mullaney (Ngati Porou, Ngati Raukawa), HVN Vision Mātauranga Leader| Kaiarataki Vision Māturanga

Jane Mullaney is the Vision Mātauranga Leader for the High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge. Jane is a senior scientist at AgResearch, Adjunct Senior Researcher for Massey University and an Associate Investigator for the Riddet Institute. Her key expertise is in the microbiome. Jane has worked on HVN’s Infant Health and Digestive Health Priority Research Programmes as an Associate Investigator. She is also part of the research team for two HVN Contestable Fund projects, working with the Macorja Group to develop a Rongoā beverage and with Ngāti Kuia on understanding and characterising the effects of maramataka of Kānuka harvesting.

Helen Madden

Dr Helen Madden, Research Operations Manager | Poutaki Whakahaere Rangahau

Helen Madden is the Research Operations Manager for the New Zealand High-Value Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge. Helen joined the HVN Challenge team from the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Science where she worked as a Research Programme Manager for the School of Chemical Sciences, supporting the delivery and implementation of research programmes, projects and goals in alignment with the School’s research strategy. Formerly, Helen worked within the University’s National Research Collaborations team where she gained extensive knowledge of the National Science Challenges, particularly in relation to contracting and contestable funding rounds. Prior to joining the University of Auckland, Helen worked as a Research Officer at Massey University where she gained a masters’ degree in Psychology, conducting research into nutritional health, and a PhD in Health Psychology.

Treena Brown

Treena Brown, Senior Marketing and Communications Advisor | Kaitohutohu Matua Whakawhitinga, Whakatairanga

Treena Brown joined the HVN Challenge from the University of Auckland Business School, where she was the Marketing Content Manager. Treena is an experienced writer and editor with over 20 years’ publishing, marketing and communications experience in the United Kingdom and New Zealand in the areas of science, medicine, law, business and economics, engineering and tertiary education.

Eleanor Surtida, Executive Assistant | Kaiāwhina Huarangi

Eleanor Surtida is the Executive Assistant for the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. She has over a decade of administration skills. Eleanor also has experience and understanding of research environments in the tertiary education sector and is committed to supporting science research programmes that make a difference to people’s lives.