Anthony G. Evans, 1942-2009
ACerS leaders and staff recently were saddened learn that Distinguished Life Member and former Society vice president, Tony Evans died after a year-long bout with cancer.

Fred Lange, also an ACerS DLM and friend of Evans, provided the following information:

Anthony Glyn Evans, a Welshman, know as ‘Tony’ to all of us, died at home, in the early morning of September 9th , 2009 after a year long battle with cancer. He left behind his life-long partner and wife, Trisha, three daughters, Samantha, Polly, and Jay, and a host of friends/colleagues who miss him terribly. His death devastated our community. A number of friends summed up our loss with, “Our world just lost a big chunk of the stuff that makes it interesting.” (Brian Cox), and “It’s as if the power went out.” (Brian Lawn).

Tony’s innovative contributions to materials were enormous, and were recognized with the highest accolades in science and engineering, including being a Fellow of the Royal Society and Fellow of the Royal Society of Engineering on the eastern side of the Atlantic, and members of the National Academy of Science and National Academy of Engineering on the western side.

Tony started his scientific life at Imperial College studying dislocation motion in the fluorite structure, with Peter Pratt, his advisor. Typical of his continued life work, Tony explained this motion, better know at the time for metals, and not ceramics, with mathematics, using illustrations to help the reader understand the math. After graduate studies, he was employed at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, Europe’s most prestigious and best equipped laboratory, where he worked with Roger Davidge on concepts of ceramic fracture. At Harwell, Tony and Roger introduced fracture mechanic concepts that were well known for metal mechanics, but poorly understood in the ceramics community. After a short period at UCLA with Alan Tetelman, the guru of fracture mechanics at that time, he moved to the National Bureau of Standards to work with Shelley Wiederhorn, who had pioneered the effect of water on subcritical crack growth in glass. Using his mathematical talents, Tony developed analytical concepts to predict failure life-time with subcritical crack growth data. These life-time predications were later developed to include the statistics of fracture and proof testing, enabling engineers to use structural, ceramic components with greater reliability.

When Tony moved back to the west coast to work at Rockwell Science Center, he initiated a collaborative study concerning the detection of strength limiting flaws in ceramics. This collaboration became the first of many that followed. Regarding these collaborations, John Hutchinson noted at his 60th Birthday Roast at Schloss Solitude, “On one of his weekly visits to Washington, DC, Evans overheard advanced information circulating in the halls of power to the effect that ‘certain types of dislocations may be redundant and troublesome to cheap, light weight structures’ of interest to both DARPA and ONR. Upon his return home, Evans assembled a team of international experts who volunteered to accept funding to work on this national priority.” The subject of these collaborations, which would last for years, ranged from ceramic composites, lightweight metallic structures, wing warping, armor, and thermal barrier coatings. Tony’s modus operandi was to hold a yearly workshop that defined, by consensus, the next year’s objectives. Many problems were defined and solved.

After Rockwell, Tony moved to successive universities, including Berkeley, then UCSB, where he was the inaugural chair of the Materials Department, then Harvard, Princeton and back again to UCSB. He graduated a number of students who have carried on Tony’s teachings, and have made fundamental contributions themselves.

For our community, Tony was truly a ‘once in a lifetime event.’

Another ACerS DLM, Arthur Heuer, was a long-time acquaintance who first met Evans on the day Heuer defended his Ph.D. thesis. He praised his colleague as being “one of the top two or three materials scientist of our time – or any time. He was one of the very few people who are simultaneously well known among the ceramics, metallurgy and mechanics communities. He did pioneering work in exploiting the interface between mechanical and materials science. His style of work was to assemble a diverse team of experts from academia and industry, and this style influenced the way the field has developed.”

Northwestern University professor Katherine Faber, a former Evans’ grad student, agreed with Heuer, noting, “Tony had the ability to assemble extraordinary teams of scholars to go after problems of technological and scientific import. A case in point is the topic of thermal barrier coating systems where he amassed experts in phase equilibria for the design of new coating materials, processing of superalloys and ceramic coatings, mechanical and microstructural characterization, and mechanics for the analysis of various failure modes. This same philosophy was apparent in his groundbreaking work on toughening mechanisms, ceramic matrix composites, indentation fracture and thin films. In each case Tony was the magnet.”

Faber also said Evans will be remembered for his talent in the classroom. “He had the exceptional knack of making complex ideas seem simple, and has been a role model for many of us who followed academic paths.”



2006 Fellow Royal Academy of Engineering (London)
2005 Fellow, National Academy of Science
2005 Gold Medal (ASM International)
2003 Nadai Medal (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)
2002 Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists (Germany)
2001 Fellow, Royal Society (London)
2001 M ellor Memorial Lecturer (The Institute of Materials, U.K.)
2000 Turnbull Award (Materials Research Society)
2000 Fellow Academy of Arts and Sciences
2000 Distinguished Life Member (American Ceramic Society)
1998 Peterson Award (Society for Experimental Mechanics)
1997 Fellow, National Academy of Engineering
1994 Griffith Medal and Prize (The Institute of Materials, U.K.)
1993 Honorary Fellow (International Congress on Fracture)
1988 Orton Lecture (American Ceramic Society)
1988 John Jeppson Medal (American Ceramic Society)
1986 Hobart N. Kraner Award (American Ceramic Society)
1984 Clyde Distinguished Professor (University of Utah)
1983 Van Horne Distinguished Lecturer (Case Western Reserve University)
1980 Robert Sosman Award (American Ceramic Society)
1979 Richard M. Fulrath Award (American Ceramic Society)
1974 Ross Coffin Purdy Award (American Ceramic Society)
1967 Matthey Prize (Imperial College)