CORVALLIS, Ore. – Harold Evans, a pioneer in the science of “nitrogen fixation” and the first faculty member at Oregon State University to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, died last Saturday. He was 86.
Evans, who received his doctorate in 1950 from Rutgers University, was on the OSU faculty from 1961 until his retirement. He was a leader in studies of how some plants can “fix” nitrogen, by changing atmospheric nitrogen into a form plants can use. Nitrogen is a key, limiting nutrient in the growth of many agricultural crops and the health of other ecosystems.
"Harold Evans was one of the leaders who brought the field of nitrogen fixation to maturity,” said Dan Arp, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at OSU. “Researchers around the world continue work that was initiated in Professor Evan's laboratory."
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1972, Evans received numerous other career awards and honors, including the Senior Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, which recognized his teaching and research in plant physiology. A native of Kentucky, he served in the U.S. Army in World War II and afterward received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky.
At OSU, he directed the Laboratory for Nitrogen Fixation Research for 12 years, and left the university as an emeritus distinguished professor of plant physiology. During his career Evans produced hundreds of professional publications, lectures and presentations, while supervising numerous graduate students.