Co-director to take the reins of Riddet Institute

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh takes up sole directorship of the Riddet Institute. 

There is a change in the leadership of the Riddet Institute with Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan stepping down as co-director and Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh becoming sole director.

The Riddet Institute was established at Massey University in 2003 by Professor Singh and Professor Moughan. Under their leadership the institute has gone from strength to strength. It was selected as a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) in 2008 and is now one of the leading food research centres in the world. It has secured millions of dollars in research funding from the New Zealand and international food industry for innovative food science and technology programmes. In 2012, Professor Singh and Professor Moughan were jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prize of $500,000, New Zealand’s most valuable award for scientific achievement.

While Professor Moughan will no longer be co-director, he remains very active in the Institute as one of the Principal Investigators. He will also assume the role of Riddet Institute Fellow Laureate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Institute and to food research in New Zealand.

Professor Singh says, “It has been a privilege and an honour to have worked with Paul as the co-director of Riddet over the last 15 years. Because of his visionary leadership, the Riddet Institute has become one of the premier research centres in the world on a path to sustainable growth. Combining inter-disciplinary and creative thinking, our partnership has set a new vision and direction for food and nutritional sciences research.

“In his new role, we will continue to work together to further strengthen our science leadership and international profile and impact.”

Professor Singh is a world-renowned food scientist, whose research has focused on food colloids, food ingredient functionality, functional foods and food structure-nutrition interface. He has published more than 350 research papers in international journals, has been a co-inventor of 12 patented products/innovations, and has given more than 150 keynote address at international conferences.

In 2013, he was made a Distinguished Professor, the highest academic title the University offers and is normally bestowed on up to 15 professors who have achieved ‘outstanding international eminence in their fields’.

While he has more than proven himself in the academic field, he has also shown great skill as a leader in the scientific community, both in his role leading Riddet, but also heading the School of Food and Nutrition, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology from 2015-17.

He has been instrumental in brokering important relationships with industry and bringing the best talent to the Centre, such as the recent appointment of Fonterra-Riddet chair in sensory and consumer science. Another highly significant deal has been the establishment of the AgResearch-Massey University Food Science Facility, with an initial investment of $45 million on the Manawatū campus.

Professor Singh has also been instrumental in bringing the world’s best international minds to our shores, including many sabbatical visitors and last year’s International Symposium on the Delivery of Functionality in Complex Food Systems - the first time this high-profile conference was been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

His international standing and outstanding contributions to food science have been recognised by several prestigious awards: the William Haines Dairy Science Award (USA), the Marschall Rhodia International Dairy Science Award (USA), Massey University Research Medal, JC Andrews Award, the Shorland Medal, International Dairy Foods Association Research Award in Dairy Foods (USA). He is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, Elected Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology, and Elected Fellow of the United States Institute of Food Technologists.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor Research, Academic and Enterprise Professor Giselle Byrnes says the University is delighted Professor Singh has taken on this important leadership role and she looks forward to working with him.

Chair of the Riddet Board Dr Kevin Marshall says, “The Board is delighted that Massey University has appointed Professor Singh as the sole director of the Institute to continue and enhance the great work that has been undertaken over the last decade. 

“The Board also welcomes the on-going involvement of Professor Moughan in the vital research activities of the Institute. His experience, leadership and world class research will continue to grow the Institute’s prestige both domestically and internationally.

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