Dr Shikha Pundir
Masters of Science, Bio-Chemistry; Masters of Science, Food Science; PhD in Health Science
Throughout Shikha’s growing years, she always had seen her parent’s passion for teaching and research; and how they have affected many lives in many ways, including her own. After migrating to New Zealand, Shikha found herself at a crossroad; either to do a job or go after her aspiration to become an independent researcher. Despite being apprehensive about the prospect of starting over, she enrolled herself into the Master’s Programme in the Department of Food Science at the University of Auckland and became involved in the Liggins Institute looking at the Impact of Food Digestibility using Metabolomics.
Shikha completed her PhD at the University of Auckland (Liggins Institute, under the leadership of David Cameron-Smith and Clare Rose-Marry Wall), where she has focused on the understanding the complexities of maternal health in dictating the biochemical profile of human milk. Shikha is currently working as a Research Fellow at the Liggins Institute, studying the composition, diversity, and variation within human milk and their functional importance to infant health and subsequent developmental stage.
Research | Current
Shikha's current research investigates maternal nutrition and human milk composition. This is paired with a particular focus on maternal metabolic health while lactating, with a special interest in examining the development of breastfeeding infants. Her research has focused on understanding the complexities of human milk with the goal of developing a niche in human milk world, and yield new understanding of the little-known bioactive substances present in the milk and ensure that future research is useful in determining the long term implication for high-risk mothers and infants.
2018: Invited Lecture at Obstetrics & Gynaecology Research Seminar Series
2017: Public lecture at 150th Anniversary of Royal Society Te Aparangi - Celebration of Women's in Research Lecture series
2016: Invited Public lecture at Liggins Institute 15th Anniversary, New Zealand
2013: Invited Departmental Seminar at University of Turku, Finland
2014: Invited Lecture at Len Science, University of Auckland
Grants & Awards
2018: FRDF (Faculty Research Development Fund) Grant – “Does maternal BMI affect energy regulating hormones and growth factors in human breast milk, thereby affecting infant health?” ($40,144)
2018: International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) Trainee Expansion programme
2016: International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) Trainee Travel Award
2015: Liggins Institute Student Leadership Award
2015: Travel Grant, Gravida-National Centre for Growth and Development ($4500)
2015: Best PhD Oral Presentation Award, Riddet Institute, Massey University
2014: Doctoral Student Small Project Grant Award, Gravida-National Centre for Growth and Development ($13,500)
2012: Best PhD Poster Award, Annual Conference of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
2016: Mont Liggins PhD Scholarship
2013: Doctoral Scholarship, Gravida-National Centre for Growth and Development and Riddet Institute, Massey University
Areas of expertise
Shikha has been trained in Biochemistry and during her Master’s and PhD she gained profound knowledge in analytical chemistry, especially mass spectrometry, which she has applied to the analysis of (macro/micro-)nutrients and hormones in human milk.
Her involvement in clinical trials has given her the experience of managing, conducting and co-ordinating human clinical studies. Shikha is experienced in method development, including sample preparation, chromatographic separation, mass spectrometry, and data analysis and is familiar with analytical laboratory skill base that includes ELISAs, multiplex assays, PCR, recombinant protein expression, and purification.
2018-to date: New Zealand Trainee Representative on the DOHaD ECR committee
2017-to date: Secretory of Postdoctoral Society of Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Auckland
2017-to date: Chairperson of Liggins Seminar series
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Pundir, S., Wall, C. R., Mitchell, C. J., Thorstensen, E. B., Lai, C. T., Geddes, D. T., & Cameron-Smith, D. (2017). Variation of human milk glucocorticoids over 24 hour period. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia, 22 (1), 85-92. 10.1007/s10911-017-9375-x
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Clare Wall, David Cameron-Smith, Eric Thorstensen
- Pundir, S. (2017). Exploring role of maternal and infant determinants on glucocorticoid composition of human milk The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
- Pundir, S. (2013). Exploring the metabolomic responses to breakfast meals: Analysis of cooking methodologies and differing meals The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland. Related URL.