Dr. John W. Bevan, professor of chemistry and Davidson Professor of Science at Texas A&M University, passed away Saturday (April 23) in Bryan. He was 70.
Memorial services are set for 2:30 p.m. today (April 27) at First Baptist Church in Bryan for the beloved longtime chemist, who spent the past 38 years as a widely respected faculty member and researcher in the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry. A private interment will follow at the College Station Memorial Cemetery Aggie Field of Honor.
Bevan was born in the United Kingdom on April 16, 1946, to Thomas Benjamin and Gwenyth Bevan. From the time he was very young, his parents impressed on him the importance of education, and his love of learning followed him throughout his life. After earning a bachelor of science from the University of Wales, he graduated from the University of Surrey with a master’s degree and then obtained his doctorate at University College London in 1975. While there, he won the Ramsay Memorial Medal, awarded annually since 1923 to the top postgraduate student studying in their final year in the UCL Department of Chemistry.
After completing subsequent postgraduate work at Rice University, Bevan joined the Texas A&M Chemistry faculty in 1978. He played a critical role in the establishment of the Texas A&M Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment, serving as its inaugural director. In addition, he received awards for both his teaching and his research, which focused on physical and nuclear chemistry, including his 2005 appointment as a Davidson Professor and joint holder of the Davidson Chair in Science as well as the International Research Excellence Award from the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), Semiconductor Safety Association (SSA) and Sematech.
“John Bevan’s career at Texas A&M University has been a class act,” said Dr. Emile A. Schweikert, professor of chemistry and former head of the department (1994-2006). “He exemplified competence and fairness in teaching, originality and quality in research, and dedication in service.”
Bevan’s scientific career focused on understanding molecular interactions by means of investigating gas-phase complexes, both experimentally and theoretically. Many of his peers have noted that his experimental work was characterized by clever, directed instrumental development and a remarkable degree of analytical thoroughness. His studies were comprehensive, accurate and will stand the test of time.
“Despite the insights and advances that he made, he remained humble and constantly in awe of the complexity and beauty of the physical world,” said fellow Texas A&M chemist Dr. Paul Lindahl, a faculty member since 1988.
The theoretical aspect of Bevan’s work involved long-standing collaboration with his colleague, Robert Lucchese. The two shared a stimulating and productive collaboration of more than 25 years that resulted in a total of 54 scientific papers concerning the nature of intermolecular interactions — research that was funded by multiple National Science Foundation grants.
“His passing leaves a void in my professional life and, personally, I will miss him very much,” said Lucchese, a professor in the department since 1983.
Although Bevan was widely known for his rigorous fundamental studies into the nature of chemical bonding, he also was interested in the application of high-resolution spectroscopy to real-world problems. He was co-founder and director of the start-up company, RF Environmental Systems Inc., that developed plasma-abatement technology to reduce global warming emissions. More recently, he was working hard to develop a spectrometer to allow the rapid, in situ detection of lung cancer biomarkers in human breath.
“I loved his accent, his humility, his enthusiasm and, most of all, how he could make clear to me — a non-chemist — the exciting things he was discovering,” said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, professor of statistics and former dean of the College of Science (2002-2015). “Even during his illness, when I could tell he was hurting, he never showed fear, only that he wanted enough time. The clock ran out but never his memory.”
Bevan is survived by his wife of 25 years, Jennifer P. Bevan; his children Gareth and wife Heba Bevan of London, England, Carol Bevan of Houston, Stacey Bevan of Boston, Mass. and Kirsten Bevan and Ryan Bevan of College Station; and his granddaughter Anwen Bevan of London, England.
In lieu of flowers, the Bevan family has requested that any memorials be directed toward the Texas A&M University Chemistry Road Show Endowment, the J.W. Kornegay Scholarship Fund at First Baptist Church Bryan or a charity of your choice.
Condolences may be shared online or via cards and letters addressed to the John W. Bevan Family in care of the Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3255.