Sterling Chaykin’s Life and Career

Sterling Chaykin’s career first started blooming when he did a double major in Chemistry and Biology at New York University. After receiving these two degrees, and not quite sure of his next step, he encountered a professor who recommended Sterling to go to graduate school in an emerging field called Biochemistry.

Sounding like a good idea, he applied to fifty graduate schools, looking for a teaching assistantship to insure enough money to pay the bills. One of the schools was the University of Washington where he pursued his graduate degree in Biochemistry with a professor who later received a Nobel Prize.

The University of Washington also marks the location of another major life milestone. He met a lovely lady who became his wife. Married in 1954, and still a close couple to this very day, they have a wonderful family of four children, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

After his PhD, he was drafted into the army and was stationed in a laboratory at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Following that, he did a post-doc in the Chemistry department at Harvard under the only Biochemistry professor in the department at the time. There he researched multiple studies on cholesterol biosynthesis, which again led to a Nobel Prize for his major professor.

Immediately after his post-doc he was appointed as assistant professor at the University of California, Davis. This was back when UC Davis was still getting established as a school, and was still UC Berkeley’s farm. At UC Davis his research focused on enzymology and embryology.

Parallel to his career at UC Davis he developed two new technologies which led to a number of patents, some world-wide. He started a company called Bon Mangé to commercialize these technologies. His company’s first invention was inspired by his teaching. He recalled, “I would be teaching a lab and the students would come from a garlic flavored lunch.” This led to an invention which prevented onion and garlic breath, and then it was followed by another invention that cleaned the mouth of residual food flavors, tartar from the teeth, and lowered oral bacterial populations. The company then took another step forward and reformulated the oral cleansing technology for use in dogs and cats to combat pet breath and remove tartar from pets’ teeth.

Before retiring he insured an active post-UC Davis life by planting a vineyard and opening Satiety Winery in Woodland.

In remembering his thirty four year tenure at UC Davis he is most proud of his efforts, twelve hours per week in lab class teaching students to competently carry out cutting edge laboratory procedures. And most importantly, break out of memorize and regurgitate mode and engage in intellectual processes. In particular, reasoning. To this day twenty years after retiring, Sterling is still operating Bon Mangé and Satiety vineyards, winery, and cafe.


Author: Kate Gibson

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