Member Spotlight: Meet Michael Eskin
Member Spotlight is a regular INFORM magazine column that features members who play critical roles in AOCS.
|Michael N. A. Eskin
|Ph.D. from University of Birmingham, UK, in physiological chemistry
|Professor, Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences
|University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Current AOCS involvement
|Associate editor (education), AOCS Lipid Library; several award-involvement selection committees
What’s a typical day like for you?
My morning starts around 4:30 a.m. when I have a coffee, read the paper, and do the crossword puzzle. I am always working on chapters or a book or organizing the next one. I am also usually working on papers, as I collaborate with several colleagues in my department.
My favorite part of my job is…
…interacting with students and colleagues. Teaching online to 250 students does not allow for any real interactions, and that is something I miss.
Flash back to when you were 10 years old. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t think I ever dreamed of becoming a professor. My three sisters and I were the first generation in my family to attend university, which opened new and unknown opportunities for us.
Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I am curious and never short of ideas. I am interested in a few areas, including bioactive phenols in canola and mustard as well as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and I was the guest editor for a special issue of Antibiotics on botanicals and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Is there an achievement or contribution you are most proud of? Why?
I was truly fortunate to work on the development of canola oil when I first arrived in Canada in 1968. For this and related work, my colleagues nominated me for the Order of Canada, which I received in 2016, and the Order of Manitoba, which was awarded this year. Receiving them—as well as the Supelco AOCS Research and Stephen S. Chang Awards—ranks among the proudest moments in my life.
What event, person, or life experience has had the most influ- ence on the direction of your life?
I have had wonderful mentors and collaborators, mostly remarkable women. The first was my late mother, Ethel Eskin, who made sure I could sew and iron before I left home. The second was my late Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Sybil James. The third was my late colleague, Professor Marion Vaisey-Genser, with whom I worked on canola oil for more than 25 years. Others include Rajannah Bird, Miyoung Suh, and the late Usha Thiyam-Hollander. The most remarkable woman in my life, however, is my wife Nella, whose support and patience were key to whatever successes I have enjoyed over the past half-century.
How do you relax after a hard day of work?
I enjoy playing Super Scrabble, but beating my wife is a real challenge. In the summer we are dedicated gardeners. I also enjoy writing raps and other ditties that make learning science fun. This year I composed a song to celebrate the discovery of insulin in Canada 100 years ago, which was presented at the Virtual 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.
What skill would you like to master?
I would like to play the banjo. My sons bought me one, but I have yet to really work on it.