One of New Zealand's most distinguished scientists has been internationally honoured for his contribution to science that is helping malnourished children in the developing world.

Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, who co-directs the Riddet Institute at Massey University, will receive an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Guelph in Canada in June.

"I'm humbled by the award," said Professor Moughan, who in 2012 was awarded the prestigious Prime Minister's Science Prize with Riddet co-director Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh.

"It's great for New Zealand and just shows the high regard held for New Zealand science overseas."


Professor Moughan is conducting research in protein nutrition that is leading to more effective and targeted nutrition to the world's most needy.

"Protein malnutrition is one of the leading causes of death in children in the developing world. It's a huge killer, so this research is incredibly important."

One in four children suffered from protein energy malnutrition according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Professor Moughan's work was also important for elderly people suffering from muscle wasting and those looking to gain mass and maximise their protein intake for long-term muscular health.

Guelph Vice-Chancellor Alastair Summerlee said the award recognised Professor Moughan's significant academic contributions and leadership in food and human sciences.

"Professor Moughan's reputation as a world authority on mammalian protein metabolism, dietary protein quality in humans and food evaluation science is truly impressive."

Professor Moughan has had a distinguished 29-year career at Massey after graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with first-class honours in 1978 and a PhD in 1984.

He was the foundation head of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health in 1997, has co-directed the Riddet Institute since 2003, and has received numerous international awards.