Jim Evans is Washington State Professor of the Year

It’s the fifth time a prof at Puget Sound has won this honor, more than any other college

It is not unusual for a student to walk into Jim Evans’ ancient astronomy class convinced that he or she is not a science person. The mere thought of math or physics makes the newcomer quake. But at the end of the semester that same student is exhilarated by a sense of discovery and awed by the haphazard but inspiring progress of scientific thought.

“Jim has a gift for sharing his knowledge in a way that is both comprehensible and humorous,” said Rachel Krell ’10.

For Evans himself, learning science boils down to one thing: doing science. “You don’t really understand it unless you can apply it,” he says. In his classes that means building your own sundial, performing the “epicycle waltz” around the room to learn planetary motion, and studying the principles of light without a textbook—simply by experimenting and recording your own discoveries.

On Nov. 20 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education named Professor Evans Washington state’s 2008 Professor of the Year.

Evans, who teaches physics and the history of the sciences and has been a Puget Sound faculty member for 24 years, is the fifth UPS professor to win the honor since the award’s inception in 1981. Puget Sound has more recipients of this award than any other college or university in Washington state. Previous UPS recipients include Nancy K. Bristow, professor of history (2007), Suzanne Wilson Barnett, professor emerita of history (2002), Mott Greene, John B. Magee Professor of Science and Values (1996), and the late Robert G. Albertson ’44, professor of religion (1985). — Shirley Skeel