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Science Leadership Team | Kaiarahi Pūtaiao

Dr Denise Conroy, Plant & Food Research, Auckland

Dr Denise Conroy is a Senior Scientist with the Consumer Team, Plant and Food Research, based at the Mt Albert campus. Denise is a Consumer Behaviourist, specialising in understanding the attitudes, emotions, values and cognitions that motivate people to consume specific products, brands or experiences, or to reject these offerings. As an interpretivist researcher Denise is a skilled methodologist, and is very experienced at leading complex teams, across different disciplines, and from diverse backgrounds, to reach a common goal. Much of Denise’s research is Asia focussed; current projects include an exploration of how organic labels on fresh fruit and vegetables are processed and interpreted in Vietnam; why organic is considered to be part of status expression in South Korea, as opposed to any reference to sustainability or the green movement, and, as PI of the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, exploring how Chinese consumers construe the relationships between food and health. Watch Dr Denise Conroy talk about the HVN Consumer Insights programme.

Dr Meika Foster, Edible Research founder

Dr Meika Foster is a nutritional biochemist with a background in law. She is the founding director of Edible Research Ltd, which provides translational research services in Food and Nutrition Science to Food Industry, Universities, and Government. She leads the implementation of Vision Mātauranga in HVN science and innovation programmes and is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine, University of Otago and a New Zealand Registered Dietitian. She has been employed previously as a nutrition researcher in Australia and New Zealand and is well published in peer reviewed scientific journals. Her particular research interests include the role of plant-based dietary patterns in the prevention and management of chronic disease; and cultural and intellectual property law. Watch Dr Meika Foster talk about her role within HVN.


Dr Olivier Gasser, Team Leader at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand

Dr Olivier Gasser’s research interests lie in the bidirectional communication between the immune system and host metabolism, with a strong emphasis on the gut and its resident microbes. Dr Gasser’s position and research area will ensure the Malaghan Institute’s research efforts will be a key pillar of the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. He brings much experience in evaluating novel mechanistic aspects of the human immune system that could provide immediate impact to the fields of immune health as it relates to cancer, inflammatory and infectious diseases. Watch Dr Olivier Gasser talk about HVN’s Immune Health Priority Research Programme.

Professor Sally Poppitt, Director of the Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Auckland

Professor Sally Poppitt is the founding director of the Human Nutrition Unit at Auckland University. She is a member of the High-Value Nutrition Science Leadership team, as principal investigator for the Metabolic Health programme – researching how food can help problems arising from obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Previously she held the Fonterra Chair in Human Nutrition within the dairy Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) between the New Zealand government and dairy company Fonterra, and is principal investigator at the Riddet Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) for Food and Nutrition leading the weight management platform. Originally from the Dunn Nutrition Unit at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, she has extensive experience in conducting nutrition intervention trials in both industrialised and rural economies. She publishes widely in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and acts as consultant to government advisory panels and the New Zealand food industry. Watch Professor Sally Poppitt talk about HVN’s Metabolic Priority Research Programme.

Professor Nicole Roy, University of Otago

Professor Nicole Roy is with the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago Professor Roy has research interests in nutrition and health, host-microbiome interactions, gastrointestinal physiology, and gut-brain communication. She is based in Palmerston North and leads the Digestive Health Priority Research Programme for the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. Professor Roy completed her PhD in Canada and the United States and postdoctoral studies in Scotland, where she focused on how nutrition and food components can modify inter-organ nutrient partitioning and communication using tracer kinetics, animal models and in vitro models. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Riddet Institute and a Principal Investigator in the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence. Watch Professor Nicole Roy talk about the HVN Digestive Health Priority Research Programme.

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh, Director of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh is a world-renowned food scientist. In addition to leading the Food Science and Technology programme at Massey University he is also Director of the Riddet Institute and leads the Science of Food programme for High-Value Nutrition. His research has focused on food colloids, food ingredient functionality, functional foods and the food structure-nutrition interface. He has published more than 300 research papers and is the co-inventor of 12 patents which which have been the basis of several commercial innovations.His international standing has been recognised by national and international awards, including the Prime Minister’s Science Prize. He serves on several national and international commitees advising on food strategy, development and implementation. Watch Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh talk about the Science of Food Programme and its role with the HVN Challenge.

Professor Clare Wall, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

Professor Clare Wall heads the Nutrition Department at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland and is the principal investigator of the HVN Infant Health Priority Research Programme. Her research interest is in the inter-relationships between the determinants of nutritional status and health outcomes of the paediatric population. Watch Professor Clare Wall describe HVN’s Infant Health Priority Research Programme and the inter-relationships between the determinants of nutritional status and health outcomes of the paediatric population.