Mason’s Evan Marie Lowder receives Outstanding Faculty Award from SCHEV


George Mason University’s Evan Marie Lowder is among 12 state educators to be formally recognized by the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) with a 2024 Outstanding Faculty Award.

Evan Lowder headshot
Evan Lowder. Photo by Office of University Branding

The assistant professor of Criminology Law, and Society will be honored as a “Rising Star,” a designation for faculty with two to six years of full-time experience, and is the 29th Mason faculty member to be celebrated since the awards began in 1987.

“I was very surprised,” said Lowder, who has been at Mason since 2019. “Overall, just very positive news.”

Outstanding Faculty Awards recognize faculty at Virginia public and private colleges and universities who exemplify the highest standards of research, teaching, and service. The award includes a $7,500 gift from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to be presented at an in-person ceremony on March 7 in Richmond.

“Evan is an academic star in every sense,” said James Willis, chair of the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society, part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “She is an excellent researcher doing vital work, and an outstanding teacher and mentor who elevates her students and provides invaluable service to the department, college, and university. She is truly deserving this prestigious award.”

Lowder originally wanted to be a lawyer, a seed probably planted by her mother, she said.

It was not a random notion.

“I was a very curious, articulate, and kind of argumentative child,” Lowder said. “My mother always said, ‘You should be a lawyer because of your ability to care about issues and fight for justice.’ ”

But while Lowder was pursuing majors in psychology and political science at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, there came a revelation.

“I realized through the law you can impact people’s lives, but it’s kind of individually, one by one” Lowder said. “I became interested in this idea of how you can use research to further policy and practices that can help a larger group of people.”

Lowder’s research focuses on reducing justice-system contact and improving behavioral health outcomes among justice-involved adults.

Her Early Justice Strategies Lab examines ways to facilitate community release, supervision, and connection to services and supports for those who are justice-involved. Many projects focus on front-end legal processing such as community-, police-, and court-based interventions.

Lowder said she is most proud of helping to evaluate the state of Indiana’s pretrial risk assessment tool. Though the tool did well in predicting outcomes overall, she said, it did not do as well for Black defendants in general.

“So that motivated this whole conversation about looking at other places in the system where we can help rectify some of those disparities,” Lowder said. “It launched a bigger conversation about race and the way it manifests in the criminal justice system. That has led to other projects working with Indiana government and local agencies to try to address some of those issues.”

“It’s rewarding to have that bi-directional relationship,” she added, “where we’re giving something back to the community, and we’re taking something that can help to advance the evidence base around a specific issue.”

It’s a sensibility that she began developing at a young age.

“Everything was a negotiation where I thought, ‘Oh, that doesn’t make sense and why does it have to be that way?’ ” Lowder said. “You’re curious, you want answers and you want to be logical. But the world doesn’t work that way. That’s hard to understand when you’re little. But when you grow up and get the chance to apply evidence-based thinking to your work and your life, that’s very rewarding.”