If a dog ingests something toxic, it’s The Antidote to the rescue — treating the patient, not just the poison. Dressed in mask and cape, The Antidote is Tim Evans’ alter ego, saving one “stale” (his words) veterinary toxicology lecture at a time. Evans, also known for his Hawaiian shirts that occasionally depict toxic plants, has been spicing up the field of toxicology at MU for 12 years.
Understanding toxicology is important to veterinary professionals. However, the expectation of memorizing every poison is unrealistic. Evans favors experiential learning in the classroom, using a data-collection exercise he calls Pick Your Poison. Students choose a common household product from the Box of Tox and determine whether a 10-pound dog would risk intoxication if it consumed the product. Putting students in real-life situations they will face after graduation, while requiring them to explain the basis for the clinical symptoms, creates a captivating learning environment.
Many former students recount Evans’ availability for one-on-one mentoring and after-hours consultations. For Evans, it’s a calculated formula.
“I like to divide student mentorship into ‘nurturing’ (they are glad I am there), ‘benign neglect’ (they don’t know I am there) and ‘to rmentorship’ (they know I am there, and they wish I was not),” he writes in his teaching philosophy statement.
Recent graduate Colleen Risinger says it was Evans’ benign neglect that forced her to solve problems on her own..
Students appreciate Evans’ sense of humor, a tool he uses in concert with this enthusiasm and expertise. When asked to teach summer veterinary scholars how to succinctly present their research to the general public, Evans donned his superhero costume and led the students to the nearest elevator for a lesson in elevator pitches.
“He has been known to make no less than 20 trips up and down the elevator in the Bond Life Sciences Center dressed as The Antidote just to teach students how to summarize their work in concise elevator statements,” writes student Daniel Tappmeyer.
Evans has won each of the most prestigious teaching awards within the College of Veterinary Medicine, including the 2012 Carl F. Norden-Pfizer Veterinary Teacher Award and the honor of hooding the fourth-year veterinary students during commencement. In 2009 Mizzou Wire named him Nerd of the Year.