Dr Shikha Pundir

Masters of Science, Bio-Chemistry; Masters of Science, Food Science; PhD in Health Science

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Honorary Academic


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.



Professional Distinctions

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.

Committees/Professional groups/Services


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)


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 505 - Bldg 505
Level 2, Room 206
New Zealand

Web links