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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 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.

Associate Professor Jennifer Miles-Chan, Director of the Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Auckland

Associate Professor Jennifer Miles-Chan is a Director of the Human Nutrition Unit in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, and principal investigator of the Metabolic Health programme. Jennifer’s research focuses on inter-individual variability in nutritional energetics and the regulation of body composition and metabolism – in essence, trying to work out why some of us are more susceptible to obesity and metabolic disease than others, and how we might be able to tailor prevention and treatment strategies accordingly.



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 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 committees advising on food strategy, development and implementation. Watch Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh talk about the Science of Food Programme and its role in 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.

Dr Fiona Lithander, Associate Professor in Nutrition, University of Auckland

Dr Fiona Lithander has joined HVN from the University of Bristol to take up the role of Associate Professor in Nutrition.  Fiona is a registered dietitian and nutrition scientist who took her PhD in nutritional physiology from the University of Cambridge in the area of human energy metabolism and appetite regulation. Her post-doctoral research training included a post-doc and lectureship at the University of Auckland between 2001 and 2006, before academic positions at Trinity College Dublin, the Australian National University and the University of Bristol. Fiona also practices as a dietitian in the area of performance sport. Fiona is working on the new large HVN-funded clinical trial, He Rourou Whai Painga.