OSA | Living History

John W. Evans

OSA Awards & Distinctions

John W Evans received a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1932, a Master’s degree in astronomy in 1936, and a Doctorate in astronomy in 1938, both from Harvard. From 1938 to 1942 he was an instructor, and then assistant professor, of mathematics and astronomy at Mills College, in Oakland, California. In 1942, he moved to the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, where he aided the war efforts by developing optical devices and later teaching advanced optical courses until 1946. In that year, he was hired and moved to the High Altitude Observatory, where he spent the next six years. Now fully interested and experienced in the field, he became the Director of the Air Force’s new Upper Air Research Observatory located at Sacramento Peak in southern New Mexico in 1952. Here he spent the rest of his career, retiring in 1974.

Evans received many honors and awards during his career, including the Newcomb Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1957, George Ellery Hale Prize of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society in 1982, and the David Richardson Medal of the Optical Society in 1987. He also received several prizes and awards from the U.S. Air Force, including the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Department of Defense in 1965; the Guenter Loeser Memorial Award, Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories in 1967; Rockefeller Award for Distinguished Public Service in 1969; and the Outstanding Achievement Award, Air Force Office of Aerospace Research in 1970. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Document Created: 17 Sep 2020
Last Updated: 17 Sep 2020