John Angus Erskine
Born in Invercargill, he was a son of Robert Erskine, who migrated from Scotland to Southland, New Zealand, at the age of 16. Jack was educated at South School, and became the first Southland youth to win a Junior Scholarship to the University of New Zealand in 1890. The next year, he chose to enrol at Canterbury College. He passed his final B.A. exams in 1893. With the start of the new term in April 1894, Ernest Rutherford and J.A. Erskine applied to use a basement room in which to carry out electrical experiments. It was here that Erskine investigated the magnetic screening of high-frequency oscillations by various metals, an offshoot of Rutherford's pioneering work. Results of his research appeared in the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute in 1895.
In 1896 Erskine won an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship and opted to study in Berlin at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat. In 1897, he and Rutherford holidayed together in Germany and year 1897 and part of 1898 Erskine was at the University of Leipzig. He then moved to London and spent 1899 and 1900 there, attending classes at University College and translating German works into English.
He took 11th place in the London 1899 chess tournament (second section won by Frank James Marshall). Erskine returned to New Zealand, to shortly work as a boiler stoker, and then began working in industry, in the United States (1903–1904), and Australia (1905–1920). After 1920 he worked as a private consultant in Melbourne. He twice won New Zealand Chess Championship at Wellington 1928/29 (with a 100% score: 8/8) and Christchurch 1934/35.
Erskine bequeathed his estate to the University of Canterbury to be held in trust to fund international exchanges of academic staff. Each year, approximately 70 Erskine fellows travel to Christchurch for periods of up to three months (with travel and per diem allowance funded) and between 18 and 25 Canterbury academics are funded to travel to overseas institutions.