In Memoriam: Edward Evenson

Remembering Emeritus Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Edward Evenson

Edward Evenson, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and distinguished scientist of glacial geology, died August 7 at his home in Mackay, ID. He was 80.

Born in Wisconsin in 1942, Evenson had an internationally respected reputation for deciphering how the Ice Ages sculpted Earth.

“Ed’s passion for geology was extremely contagious and his breadth and depth of geological knowledge was truly incredible,” said Gray Bebout, professor and chair of Earth and environmental sciences (EES). “EES friends and alumni fondly recall the transformative experiences they had on the Geological Sciences/EES geology field camp (EES 341) that Ed developed, along with P.B. Myers, and ran for so many years. Field camp became an extremely important part of the departmental culture and it remains so.”

Evenson received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1972, and the following year he began teaching at Lehigh where he would stay for the next 50 years. He earned widespread acclaim as a prolific scientist and renowned teacher. He was a glacial geologist who worked extensively -- and almost exclusively -- at high latitudes and high elevations. Among the questions he sought to answer, there were big picture pursuits like: Were the Ice Ages synchronous across the planet, or asynchronous across the equator? In many regions, Evenson sought to increase our understanding of glacial sediments surrounding the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the Rocky Mountains, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, the Chugach Mountains of Alaska, and Iceland. He guided his students into the micro level of how minute mineral crystals would align themselves in the pervasive mud left behind by glaciers. As technology developed, he was quick to adapt to satellite imagery as well, seeking perspectives from sub-microscopic to continental, even planetary, in order to better understand the influence of ice grinding across the land.

As a teacher and mentor, Evenson helped launch scores of careers. He founded the Lehigh University Field Camp and led the program for more than 40 years. Outside the classroom he guided countless undergraduate students as many encountered Earth sciences for the first time, changed their majors, and went on to top graduate programs. Many graduate students benefitted from his expansive understanding of geologic processes, some of whom would go on to be close colleagues and collaborators.
Evenson, is survived by his wife, Laura Cambiotti, and his son, Mark, and Mark’s wife. Ginger. There were no services and no memorials are planned at this time.