Tim Evans, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, became “The Antidote,” a superhero with the power of knowledge, in 2009. That year, he was featured in
Mizzou Wire when the publication decided to showcase unique and eccentric faculty and staff from across campus. To highlight his unconventional, energetic way of teaching, Evans dressed as The Antidote for the first time.
However, this was not Evan’s first superhero creation. In the days when he worked as a veterinarian and a 4-H Club advisor, Evan’s would dress as Captain Colic to talk about diseases in horses. Captain Colic was not the right fit for Evans’s alter ego anymore, and now as a toxicologist, he thought The Antidote would be a good fit to highlight his research and teaching focus. So, he donned a leftover Halloween cape and a pair of ski goggles from a church ski trip with his daughter and created this new character.
Evans has evolved the character since his first appearance in Mizzou Wire, and he now uses his alter ego as a teaching tool, especially when he teaches veterinary class sessions on toxicology and antidotes. The Antidote has even made appearances for campus fundraisers, including Nerdtacular Day with the Gentle Doctor Benefit and in a push-up contest against Truman the Tiger for the United Way.
However, Evans also uses his character, The Antidote, to discuss other concepts we well, not just hard scientific facts. Superheroes are popular for children at the moment, so he decided to use The Antidote as an easy, and fun, way to draw the students to science.
In 2016, Evans was invited by a former Mizzou student to give a talk to a group of kindergarteners at Derby Ridge Elementary School here in Columbia. He dressed as The Antidote and discussed the importance of education and learning to get away from the most toxic substance in the world: ignorance, not knowing something and not wanting to know something. The Antidote is not just your ordinary superhero, as he uses the superpower of knowledge to combat ignorance. He explains that one gains knowledge by going to school and learning: “You guys can become superheroes, too.”
This year, Evans has been working to expand his influence in the local elementary schools and has given talks on penguins, turkeys, and other topics the children are learning in class. Eventually, Evans would like to establish a formal program where he and others can go to the local elementary schools to engage elementary-age children in science, medicine, and particularly veterinary medicine. Many science engagement programs are focused on junior high and high school aged students, but Evans thinks that may be too late, as many students already have an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. It is during elementary school where children first experience the array of opportunities out there for superheroes like themselves.