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Mei PengSenior Lecturer

Ph.D. (Auckland), M.A Hons (Auckland), BA (Auckland)
Honorary Lecturer, School of Psychology (University of Auckland)


Tel +64 3 479 4052 Ext 4052
Location Sensory Science Research Centre, 270 Leith Walk CSB 109


Dr Mei Peng is a senior lecturer in Sensory Science in the Department of Food Science. With a background in Experimental Psychology, Mei uses multi-disciplinary approach (behavioural, cognitive-neuro, physiological) to study inter- and intra-individual differences in sensory processing and their links to food-related behaviour, and health issues, such as obesity and depression.

Mei's Laboratory is specialised in running large-scaled, multi-factored, human-participants based studies, including a few Marsden-funded projects (e.g., Searching for multi-sensory fingerprints: a personalised index of hedonic eating (2018–2020); How do sensory shifts shape our diet (2022-2025)).

In 2020, Mei initiated the establishment of the Otepoti-based longitudinal research cohort to track behavioural and neural-sensory changes related to pregnancy – the ENERGY Longitudinal Study Cohort – the very first pregravid longitudinal research cohort in Aotearoa.
Mei currently sits on the Editorial Board of Food Quality and Preference. She is also the founding member of Australasian Sensory Professional Network, and a main organiser of the annual NZOZ sensory symposium.

She is also a member of Food Waste Innovation, a University of Otago Research Theme.


Course Co‑ordinator

Contributor to


Research interests

Mei has a diverse range of research interests, including basic sensory processing, eating behaviour, food psychology, and human health. She is particularly interested in understanding intersections of sensory physiology and psychology, and how these can impact on human health.

  • Effects of pregnancy on macronutrient selections
  • Multi-sensory Fingerprints – Individual differences in multi-sensory processing to indicate obesity

Research projects

ENERGY longitudinal cohort study

  • Multi-sensory Fingerprints – a personalised index of hedonic eating and obesity
  • Long-term effects of COVID on eating behaviour and food choices
  • When Plant-based diets meet pregnancy – how maternal plant-based diets affect mothers and infants
  • “Mummy Brain” – Long-term effects of pregnancy on neurosensory, eating-related cognitive and behavioural processing
  • Please contact me to discuss a research project

Postgraduate supervision

Current students

  • Stephanie McLeod (PhD), “When Plant-based diets meet pregnancy – how maternal plant-based diets affect mothers and infants”
  • Elizabeth Tabe Agbor (PhD), “The impact of gustation and olfaction on eating behaviours and dietary patterns from pre-pregnancy to the postpartum in low social-economics groups and refugees”
  • Dhirendra Gehlot (Marsden-funded PhD), “Olfactory cocktail party: How human segregate mixture of odours”
  • Hannah Browne (PhD), “Long-term effect of pregnancy on sensory abilities and macronutrient selection”

Past PhD students

  • Rachel Ginieis (PhD), “Multi-sensory fingerprints and their links to hedonic eating
  • Sashie Abeywickrema (PhD), “Linking individual olfactory and gustatory sensitivity to adiposity and eating behaviour”
  • Nassim Jalil Mozhdehi (PhD), “Comparing sensory perception and dietary intake across individuals with vegetarian, vegan, and omnivorous diets”
  • Xiaohai (Justin) Geng (PhD), "Developing and assessing implicit methods for food choices"


McCormack, J. C., Agbor Epse Muluh, E., Mo, Y., McLeod, S. C., Turner, S., Gehlot, D. S., Browne, H., Bullen, C., & Peng, M. (2024). Does vaping affect the taste and smell perception? An exploratory study with New Zealand young adults. Appetite, 195, 107236. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2024.107236

Agbor Epse Muluh, E., McCormack, J. C., Mo, Y., Garratt, M., & Peng, M. (2024). Gustatory and olfactory shifts during pregnancy and the postpartum period: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiology & Behavior, 273, 114388. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2023.114388

Ginieis, R., Fu, Y., Franz, E. A., & Peng, M. (2023). Contrasting frontal cortical responses to food versus money rewards across BMI groups. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2245212. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2023.2245212

Peng, M., Ginieis, R., Abeywickrema, S., McCormack, J., & Prescott, J. (2023). Rejection thresholds for sweetness reduction in a model drink predict dietary sugar intake. Food Quality & Preference, 110, 104965. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2023.104965

Abeywickrema, S., & Peng, M. (2023). The role of tableware size in healthy eating-effects on downstream food intake. Foods, 12, 1230. doi: 10.3390/foods12061230

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