Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Australian National University (ANU), he is Head of the Department of Linguistics and Distinguished Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. Formerly, he held a personal chair in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne.
His research Interests include Australian languages, Papuan languages, linguistic typology, historical and contact linguistics, semantics, and the mutual influence of language and culture. His current projects: the way in which diverse grammars underpin social cognition (with Alan Rumsey and others); ongoing fieldwork on various Aboriginal languages of Northern Australia (Dalabon, Iwaidja, Marrku, Bininj Gun-wok, Kayardild); Papuan languages (Nen, Idi), work on endangered song-language traditions of Western Arnhem Land (with Allan Marett, Linda Barwick and Murray Garde), and the development of coevolutionary approaches that integrate the dynamic interactions between language, culture and cognition. In addition to his linguistic research he has carried out more applied work in Australian Aboriginal communities in various capacities including interpreting and preparing anthropologists' reports in Native Title claims, and writing about the new art being produced by artists from Bentinck Island. Evans signed the Declaration on the Common Language of the Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks and Montenegrins in 2019.