Our staff

Plant & Food Research staff and Massey University staff work together on multiple projects. Find out more about who we are and what we do.

Staff with joint responsibilities

Marlena Kruger - Director of Research for the College of Health, Massey University

Roger Hurst - Science Group Leader, Food & Wellness, Plant & Food Research

Brent Clothier - Science Group Leader, Systems Modelling, Plant & Food Research

Sarah McLaren - Associate Professor of Life Cycle Management, Massey University


Plant & Food Research Staff

Kieran Elborough Kieran Elborough, GM Science Breeding & Genomics (Auckland)
With a diverse scientific background, Dr Elborough has a BSc Hons degree in Microbiology and a doctorate (Dphil) in human biochemistry (cancer research). He was a permanent tenure lecturer at the University of Durham, UK for several years, carrying out both academic and commercial research in plant molecular biology. After immigrating to New Zealand he transitioned into an entirely commercial science role with Fonterra as Chief Scientist - forage and rumen genomics for six years. Dr Elborough then made the move into commercial business development, successfully commercialising HortResearch's flavours research and managing a wide portfolio of functional food IP and business interactions in Japan, Australasia and the USA. He is now General Manager of Science, guiding the strategic direction of Plant & Food Research’s crop breeding and in recent past functional food research.


Brent Clothier Brent Clothier, Science Group Leader Systems Modelling (PN)
Dr Brent Clothier has a BSc (Hons) from Canterbury University, and a PhD and DSc from Massey University.  He is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Earth & Environment of the University of Western Australia, and an Adjunct Professor in the New Zealand Life Cycle Management Centre of Massey University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the Zealand Soil Science Society, as well as a Fellow of three foreign science academies - the Soil Science Society of America, the American Agronomy Society, and the American Geophysical Union. 

Brent has published over 225 scientific papers on the movement and fate of water, carbon and chemicals in the rootzones of primary production systems, irrigation allocation and water management, plus sustainable vineyard and orchard practices for horticultural production, including adaptation strategies in the face of climate change.  He also published on life-cycle assessment, carbon and water footprinting, environmental policy, investment into ecological infrastructure, plus natural capital quantification and the valuation of ecosystem services. Brent is Joint Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Agricultural Water Management, and he is on the Editorial Board of the Spanish Journal of Soil Science.


Ed Morgan, Science Group Leader Impact Technology Development (PN)
Dr Ed Morgan has 48 refereed publications mostly on use of in vitro breeding techniques for wide hybridisation and ploidy manipulation, but has also published on post harvest, physiology, and propagation of ornamental crops. Outputs from his in vitro breeding work include eight cultivars with a significant number of potential new releases currently under commercial evaluation in NZ and offshore. His research interests continue to focus on developing and using in vitro plant breeding techniques for introducing new traits into high value crop species. These species include kiwifruit, pip fruit, berry fruit, and a diverse range of ornamental crop species.



Jocelyn Eason Jocelyn Eason, GM Science Food Innovation (PN)
Dr Jocelyn Eason obtained her PhD in Plant Physiology from Otago University (Dunedin, New Zealand) in 1993. As a research scientist, Dr Eason gained considerable experience in biochemical and genetic technologies associated with postharvest metabolism of horticultural crops. Dr Eason gained an MBA from Massey University (Palmerston North, New Zealand) in 2010 and became the Science Group Leader for Postharvest Fresh Foods at Plant & Food Research. She has led the Vital Vegetables programme since 2008 and her team successfully developed and implemented a product development process that built a portfolio of differentiated viable vegetable products with industry partners. The health benefit-labeled fresh vegetable products were launched in the NZ marketplace in October 2012 and an ongoing communications program raises consumer’s awareness of the NZ vegetable industry, its products and the health benefit of consuming vegetables. In her current role, Dr Eason manages Plant & Food Research’s Food Innovation Portfolio, which includes teams that investigate human responses to food, the influence of food on human nutrition and wellness, and the production of nutritionally-rich foods.


Roger Hurst, Science Group Leader Food & Wellness (PN)
Dr Roger Hurst has experience in the biomedical health area through an academic career at the University of Toronto, Canada ; the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK; the Institute of Neurology, London, UK; and the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. Since joining Plant & Food Research (2007) he has developed an interest in phytochemical compounds and their role in modulating oxidative stress, inflammation, and immunity to aid tissue recovery and repair. Dr Hurst has published over 60 manuscripts and leads research programmes supporting the development of new food products using commercial and new fruit cultivars (esp berry fruits) for targeted human health benefits.


Roger Harker, Science Group Leader Human Responses
Dr Roger Harker is a Principal Scientist at Plant and Food Research, Science Group Leader for the Human Responses Group (Sensory and Consumer Science, Molecular Sensing and Molecular Physiology Teams) and Programme Leader for Grape and Wine Research in the Institute. Roger has over 100 scientific and technical publications, and his research has identified instrumental measurements that when applied to whole foods are powerful predictors of consumers’ perceptions, preferences and purchase intention. His research over the last decade has supported major changes in the incentives paid to growers to produce high quality produce, helped set targets for fruit breeding programmes, and contributed to the release of new cultivars of fruit.

Richard Newcomb Richard Newcomb, Chief Scientist (Auckland)
Dr Newcomb joined Plant & Food Research in 1999 and until recently was Principal Scientist, Molecular Sensing in the Food Innovation Portfolio. He is also Associate Professor of Evolutionary Genetics in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, Principal Investigator at the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution and an Associate Investigator at the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.


Massey University Staff

Prof Peter Kemp - Head of Agriculture and Environment (Manawatū)
Peter Kemp is a Professor of Pasture Science and the head of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey University. His 28 years of research experience have covered his areas of speciality: the ecophysiology of plants, temperate silvopastoral systems, agronomy of perennial forages and browse trees, pasture establishment, evaluation of pasture species, hill pasture ecology and analysis of agricultural systems. He has published nearly 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and contributed to 11 books. In 1985 he joined Massey University, progressively lecturing within the-then Agronomy, Plant Science and Natural Resources areas. Today he is on the board of the New Zealand Poplar and Willow Trust, the New Zealand Bioprotection Research Centre at Lincoln University and is on the MBIE Natural Hazard Platform Management Group.

Dr Jason Wargent
- Senior Lecturer in Horticulture (Manawatū)
Dr Jason Wargent's research platform is focused on understanding and exploiting applied plant responses to environmental factors, particularly light and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Originally from the UK, the plant physiologist joined Massey University’s School of Agriculture & Environment in 2010. He is currently a member of EU Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST) Action FA0906, has been an invited expert reviewer for the UN Environment Programme, and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science and the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists. In 2013 he was appointed as an adjunct Professor within the International Institute of Agri-Food Security, Curtin University, Australia. He is currently working on the commercialisation of novel horticultural plant supplementary lighting.

Prof Julian Heyes - Professor of Postharvest Technology (Manawatū)
Professor Julian Heyes is the Director of the Centre for Postharvest and Refrigeration Research at Massey University. Professor Heyes leads a large team of postharvest graduate students working to optimise fruit, vegetable and cut flower storage. His research interests are postharvest biology, fruit and vegetables, cut flowers, phytochemicals and human health. His research interests have moved from his personal expertise in cell physiology to a more strategic interest in connecting science to growth of the horticulture sector based on novel, high-value niche products.  He is increasingly working on programmes relating fruit and vegetable consumption to human health. 

Dr Huub Kerckhoffs - Lecturer in Horticulture (Manawatū)
Dr Huub Kerckhoffs interest is in how light and plant hormones are controlling growth and development (e.g. flowering) in plant model systems at molecular biological, genetic and crop physiological levels.

Originally from the Netherlands, Dr Kerkhoffs has an MSc in crop physiology and a PhD in plant physiological functions of photoreceptors in tomatoes from Wageningen University. Dr Kerckhoffs was involved in research projects at universities/institutes in the Netherlands, UK, USA, Japan and Australia before coming to Plant & Food Research, where his main focus was on vegetable production systems .Joining Massey University in 2013, Dr Kerckhoffs lectures in Horticultural Production. He is coordinator for the Production Horticulture paper and contributes to numerous papers as well as supervising postgraduate students.

Sarah McLaren - Associate Professor of Life Cycle Management (Wgtn)
Sarah McLaren is Director of the New Zealand Life Cycle Management Centre (NZLCM Centre), and Associate Professor in Life Cycle Management at Massey University. Her research focuses on development and application of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and related approaches such as carbon and water foot printing. Her research has explored the nexus between quantitative environmental management tools and decision-making systems.

Sarah has worked with businesses and government to integrate life cycle thinking into management practices, product design, and policymaking for twenty years. Currently she represents New Zealand on the ISO Water Footprint Working Group, and chairs the Standards NZ International Review Group on LCA and environmental footprinting, Her previous roles include Director of the postgraduate Environmental Life Cycle Management Programme at the University of Surrey, UK, and Chair of the SETAC Europe LCA Steering Group. 

Prof Richard Archer - Professor of Food Sciences and Technology (Manawatū)
Professor Richard Archer's career has focused on process engineering research and its commercialisation. Professor Archer is currently head of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health at Massey University. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ) and Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology - NZIFST.

Professor Archer holds several directorships: Director - New Zealand Food Innovation Auckland Ltd (the FoodBOWL)]; Director - New Zealand Food Innovation Network Ltd; and is a Director ofThe FoodPILOT. His research interests include point of sale food manufacture, coating of powders, 3D food printing, and microparticulated and microencapsulated foods.

Allan Hardacre
- Senior Research Officer (Manawatū)
Mr Hardacre completed a BSc in Botany at Auckland University in the late 1960s followed by a MSc in ecology. He worked as a plant physiologist with government research in New Zealand and then for more than 20 years as a plant breeder developing maize hybrids that were tolerant to low temperatures. He then moved into cereal and legume foods research, specialising in starches and flours and applied rheology and extrusion, in particular the extrusion of high protein food materials. A move in 2008 to Massey University has maintained these interests and led to further work in the rheology of digesta and food fibre and the development of extruded foods containing high levels of protein. His current position with Massey involves consultancy with clients and operation of extruder facilities at the Foodpilot (Massey University) and Foodbowl (Manukau).

Prof Marlena Kruger
- College of Health, Director of Research (Manawatū)

Professor Marlena Kruger is internationally known as an expert in lipids and bone health. She has over 100 publications in international peer reviewed journals and several international collaborations around the area of food for health and mobility. Her current research focus is nutrition and bone/ joint health with an emphasis on dairy foods, polyphenols and lipids. 

Dr Kruger obtained her PhD from the Medical University of South Africa, followed by post-doctoral training in Germany (Max Planck Institute) and the US (University of Texas at Austin), specialising in protein purification and identification. After time at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, she established bone/ joint and nutrition research at Massey University in 2000. In 2005 she was awarded a personal Chair and in 2013 became Director of Research, College of Health at Massey. She also holds an appointment as extraordinary professor in Human Nutrition at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

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