Yes, he was evil, since Tolkien was not a great fan of industrialization, but Saruman studied the natural sciences. Specifically, he was familiar with optics. His "Saruman of many colors" schtick was a reference to the fact that a prism splits white light into a spectrum; it is implied that Saruman may have been the first to discover this.
"White!" he sneered. "It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.
At the very least he was familiar with this principle of physics.
In addition, his use of the Uruk-Hai may have been magical, but might also have illustrated his study of principles of inheritance.
Finally, he is implied to be familiar with gunpowder, or something similar. He used an explosion to breach Helm's Deep, what Aragorn referred to as "lighting the fires of Orthanc".
Generally speaking, Saruman represents precisely the scientific method. He is developing Orthanc and the surrounding area and engaging in forays into industrialization.
The shafts ran down by many slopes and spiral stairs to caverns far under; there Saruman had treasuries, store-houses, armouries, smithies, and great furnaces. Iron wheels revolved there endlessly, and hammers thudded. At night plumes of vapour steamed from the vents, lit from beneath with red light, or blue, or venomous green.
It is also worth noting that Gandalf's rejoinder to the quote of Saruman's mentioned previously implies that Saruman is engaging in scientific inquiry: he seeks to understand the nature of things.
' "In which case it is no longer white," said I. "And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.