RONALD M. EVANS, Ph.D.
Born: April 17, 1949, in East Los Angeles
Growing up nerdy: I wasn't super nerdy, says Evans. But I was definitely nerdy for my environment—East L.A. Did he have to keep up on celebrity gossip in order to fit in? Nah, I'm a guy. I just had to be able to talk about baseball.
Show me the paper: Evans did his postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of James Darnell, who, Evans says, has no tolerance for sloppy thinking. All assertions had to be backed up by information from the literature. But Darnell, who read and remembered everything, wouldn't let it go at that. He'd go to the shelf, grab a huge journal volume, and open right to the page, Evans says. The intellectual exercise kept Evans on his toes. It did sharpen my skills a lot.
Love in the lab: Evans met his wife, Ellen Potter, during a late night at the lab bench. I was a new faculty member. She was a technician working with a collaborator. We were both working long hours and we just clicked.
SELECTED HONORS, AWARDS, AND FELLOWSHIPS
SELECTED PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
Integration hesitation: Evans's work on the cellular receptors that regulate metabolism spans many disciplines, from basic molecular biology to physiology, endocrinology, and evolution. To integrate all this information, he's had to read dozens of textbooks. It would be great to put all this together in one big book, says Evans. Is it doable? Yes. Have I thought about doing it? Yes. Have I acted on it? No. It would be an enormous undertaking. And in the end, a book like that is a retrospective of what is known. I'm much more interested in what we don't know—what's over the horizon.
OUTSIDE THE LAB
3-D doodling: Strewn about Evans's office are scores of unusual sculptures: credit cards cut up and bent into animal shapes, and used Post-it notes rolled into tight little spires and arranged decoratively inside handmade ceramic mugs or stabilized by binder clips from which they sprout like bits of bamboo. I don't have a good explanation for the pathology behind this behavior, says Evans of his designs. I just like doing it.
Closet Googler: I enjoy Googling, says Evans. You get caught up going down these weird paths. It's fun. I probably should be reading the 100 most important books in the world instead. But what can I say?
© 2013 Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A philanthropy serving society through biomedical research and science education.