Research, good friends.and lobster: the recipe for a heavenly Maine summer.

UF professor and chair of zoology David Evans with his wife Jean.

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 at 2:51 p.m.

Since 1978, UF professor and chair of zoology David Evans, 65, and his wife, Jean, 63, director of Christian education at Trinity United Methodist, have left the heat and humidity of Gainesville every summer for Bar Harbor, Maine. There, the couple reunites with David's fellow research scientists, old friends who work together at the Mount Desert Islan Biological Laboratory.

Evans likens it to "science camp." At the lab, more than 150 people - "everyone from high school students, to chiefs of medical schools, to everything in between: post-docs, pre-docs, med students" - live in "pretty primitive, 40-year-old" cottages on the laboratory's grounds and work on upwards of 40 different projects funded by various different organizations. The National Science Foundation awarded David a grant to pursue non-medical, hypothesis-generated research on fish physiology, specifically on the fish gill, a structure that balances salt and water, much like kidneys do in humans.

He works mainly with the small dogfish shark.

"For those of us that have been there 20 or 25 years, the lab has been our anchor. We've all raised our kids together," Evans says.

Every year, there's a Fourth of July party and a picnic on the first of August. Their favorite place to eat is Thurston's Lobster Pound, on an area of the island where some of the movie "Cider House Rules" was filmed. The Evanses also go to band concerts in town and the annual Fourth of July parade - "a fabulous little parade," Evans says.

During their childhoods, the Evanses' sons (now 38 and 35) took tennis and sailing lessons in Maine. In fact, they both became sailing instructors, and the Evanses' youngest went on to the Olympic trials I crew lasers, then spent a year sailing around the country.

"We used to take our kids to all of the Civil War battlegrounds," says Evans, who will be entertaining his 5-year-old grandson for a week in Maine this summer.

The weather, which doesn't get hotter than 85 degrees during the day and dips down to as low as the 40s at night, is "delightful, perfect weather," according to Evans. "better than Gainesville."

Evans' lab sits on the shore. "So you'll be looking out and see a bald eagle swoop down and catch a fish, or see a seal head offshore, or hear a loon and look out and see a bird with chicks on its back." Evans also enjoys the view of Cadillac Mountain outside the lab's front door. It's part of Acadia National Park, one of Evans' favorite hiking destinations, only a few miles away.

Those like Evans who have been returning for many years to Maine have bought summer homes there. David and Jean are currently refurbishing an American four-square home, built in 1900, that used to be a parsonage.

"It's quite plain but it has good bones," Evans says. The couple plans to retire there.

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