Professor Anthony G. Evans died Sept. 9 at home with his family. He was 66.
His death, attributed to a long battle with liver cancer, came just months after Evans taught a course on thin films and multilayers. According to his colleagues, Evans, a professor of materials and mechanical engineering, devoted his life to his work and could be found engaged in the classroom, writing papers or planning future research projects until his final days.
“Tony was a brilliant intellectual, a superb materials scientist and a top engineer,” Materials and Mechanical Engineering Professor Robert McMeeking said. “Tony was extremely kind and considerate to colleagues, young materials scientists and engineers and students, inspiring them with ideas, providing advice and infecting them with enthusiasm.”
According to a university press release, Evans began his career at UCSB in 1985 as the founding chair of the Dept. of Materials and director of the High Performance Composites Center. Since his involvement, the department has become internationally recognized, currently ranked among the top 10 materials programs in the world. Evans also served as the UCSB Alcoa Professor of Materials and director of the Center for Multifunctional Materials and Structures.
Evans was best known for his innovative contributions to the field, using the latest technology for his research.
“He created and originated numerous new ideas for research ranging from basic scientific discoveries to the development of state-of-the-art technology,” Chancellor Henry T. Yang said in an e-mail. “He demonstrated numerous successful examples that bridged basic science and applied technology, such as the development of high-speed, high-efficiency and sustainable jet engines, light and strong materials and structures for flight vehicles in air and in space and many, many others.”
It was through his inventive research techniques that he received global attention, inspiring many materials scientists to follow suit. As a result, he was elected to both the National Academy of Science in 2005 and the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2006.
“Tony will be remembered for pioneering a new paradigm of research in materials used for engineering structures, in which multidisciplinary groups and methods are brought together to advance knowledge of how the materials behave, how their engineering performance can be improved and how designers of engineering structures can exploit the improved properties of new and innovative materials,” McMeeking said. “This approach to materials research has been adopted around the world, mainly due to Tony’s demonstration that it is a highly effective way of working on materials science and engineering.”
Evans was born in 1942, a native of Porthcawl, Wales. He received his college education and Ph.D. in metallurgy at Imperial College in London.
For four years, Evans was also vice president of the American Ceramic Society and served as chair of the Defense Sciences Research Council. He was one of the most widely known intellectuals in his field and authored more than 540 publications throughout his academic career. He was honored with a fellowship from the Imperial College last year.
Although deeply committed to his work, Evans always put family first and maintained an active social life outside of the university.
“His work was his hobby, though he never let his work intrude upon his family life,” McMeeking said. “He seldom worked on weekends and spent them with his family, especially his expanding circle of grandchildren. He also had a large number of friends in Santa Barbara, throughout California and around the world, with whom he enjoyed socializing, visiting and dining.”
Other colleagues with whom he worked closely said that while his death leaves the department deeply saddened, his memory would live on.
“Professor Evans was an extraordinary individual with unparalleled professional accomplishments, visionary leadership and generous nature,” Materials and Mechanical Engineering Professor Carlos Levi said. “He leaves an enormous legacy to the worldwide community of materials science and engineering and his loss leaves an enormous void in our faculty.”
According to faculty, a memorial service will be held in October, though details are still being finalized.
Evans is survived by his wife, Trisha Evans, and their three daughters.