Dr Jenny McMahon named Companion of the Royal Society

15 July 2018

Dr Jenny McMahon, Governance Group chair, addresses participants.

The Chair of the Healthier Lives governance group, Dr Jenny McMahon, has been made a Companion of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

The honour is one of six handed out this year for ‘outstanding leadership or sustained contributions to promoting and advancing science, technology, or the humanities in Aotearoa.’

President of Royal Society Te Apārangi Professor Wendy Larner said the honour of Companion is “reserved for those who have made a contribution to society far above and beyond what might be expected of them from the roles they have held.”

Jenny McMahon
Dr Jenny McMahon

The Society has 49 Companions.

Dr McMahon has been elected a Companion for the “major contributions she has made to health research and to aiding disadvantaged populations worldwide.”

She has a background in nursing and nutrition, gaining a PhD in nutrition in 2006. Her nutrition research has been published in top academic journals.

Her involvement with Red Cross spans over 30 years and dozens of countries. She has practiced as a nurse in outback Australia, Kampuchea and war-torn Angola. She was appointed Regional Nutritionist for Africa for Red Cross, with responsibility for conflict areas throughout the continent, and is currently the National President for New Zealand Red Cross.

“Being able to contribute is a feeling I have experienced that lasts a lifetime,” Dr McMahon said in a Red Cross interview. She offers several examples.

“Rehabilitating a malnourished, semi-conscious child and seeing them become energetic and cheeky three weeks on; seeing countries move beyond conflict with increased physical and economic security; and delivering a Red Cross message from a detainee to a family, saying that he is alive.

This feeling is addictive and drives a passion and commitment that never diminishes.”

Her involvement with research in recent years has been as Chair of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge Governance Group. The group ensures that the Healthier Lives Challenge is on track to achieve its mission and that the research undertaken is of the highest standard and meets the expectations of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and fulfils the obligations of the National Science Challenge contract.

Dr McMahon’s career of service has been recognised with several awards. She was awarded an Outstanding Service Award by the NZ Red Cross in 1989, and the Florence Nightingale Medal by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1991. In 1993, Dr McMahon was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Read more:

Six women recognised for leadership and sustained contributions to science and the humanities in Aotearoa – Royal Society Te Apārangi

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