Cath McLeod

Cath McLeod

Chief Science Officer

Role at Cawthron

Cath leads Cawthron’s research and consultancy groups, and provides strategic oversight and direction to the organisation on science needs to ensure impact and progress towards achieving Cawthron’s three main aspirations: healthy ecosystems, a prosperous blue economy and thriving people and communities.

Cath is also currently a member of the New Zealand Food Safety Advisory Board (MPI) and retains an active interest in the provision of high quality science to support the safety of Aotearoa’s food supply chain.

Technical skills, experience and interests

Cath has 10 years of experience in public sector food science roles, 12 years in team management and leadership, and two post-graduate degrees focused on topical food science topics.

She is a professional science manager with international experience and skills in:

  • Strategic planning to meet the needs of government and industry stakeholders;
  • Leading, mentoring and motivating people to deliver high quality science;
  • Management and delivery of multi-agency research programmes;
  • Identifying and securing external funding for research programmes;
  • Stakeholder liaison, including identification of needs and communication of science outputs.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Cell & Molecular BioScience, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. Subject: The biology of virus uptake and elimination by Pacific oysters (2007). PhD subject focused on foodborne virus contamination of oysters.
  • Master of Science (Honors), Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. Subject: Production of yessotoxin by Protoceratium reticulatum (2000). MSc subject focused on contamination of shellfish with marine biotoxins.
  • Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry & Genetics, Massey University, Palmerston North, NZ (1997).
Cath McLeod