Q&A Series with Assistant Professor Zachary Rowan

November 12, 2020

By Adhil Naidu

Dr. Zachary Rowan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology. His research includes; peer influence; co-offending; group behavior; life-course and developmental criminology; intervention evaluation; juvenile justice.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I started off interning and working at a number of law firms and basically was on my way to attending law school. One day a lawyer asked me to examine empirical research on the negative effects of lead paint exposure. That plus some mentorship from faculty at my university led me to realize I was most interested in the research side of criminology. From there, I began thinking about the role that groups, friends, and peers have in influencing our deviant behavior. Simon Fraser University was well regarded at my institution and was on the top of my list when I finished my PhD. The stellar faculty and location offered an amazing opportunity that I could not resist!

What current research are you working on?

I am working on a number of projects. Related to my work on groups and crime, I’m currently finishing up a study that tests for how engaging in crime with other people diffuses perceived responsibility over the harm or guilt associated with the act. I’m also working on facilitating data collection and cleaning on a randomized experimental trial of a Young Adult Court in Orange County aimed at understanding the negative consequences of a criminal record on young adults.

What classes are you teaching in Fall?

I will be teaching CRIM101: Introduction to Criminology and CRIM416: Current Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice – Groups and Crime. Both represent my interests in criminological theory and how it can be applied to one of my research interests.

What do you most enjoy about working at the School of Criminology?

As a faculty, I believe it is important to work in a place where our own unique approaches to research and the study of criminology is respected. We have such a diverse collection of faculty that are all working towards strengthening the curriculum for students, while pursuing our own research agenda. From both my introductory and upper level courses, many students are just so excited to dive into understanding explanations for crime and it has really been exciting to watch students develop their own research questions.

What do you enjoy most about your students/teaching?

I enjoy seeing the lightbulb moments when a concept or topic makes sense. Sometimes it can be a challenge to gauge where each student is during any particular lecture, but when something clicks and students feel confident enough to speak up – I really admire and appreciate that. I also really enjoy when students ask both good and challenging questions. Criminology is a social science, so we rarely have hard and fast facts to rely on – so it is always important for students to ask thoughtful and critical questions.

What advice do you have for students to be successful in your class?

Keep up with the assignments, readings, and engage with the lecture materials – especially now that we are in a virtual environment. Before students had showing up to lecture to serve as a baseline for involvement. Now, so much of our courses will rely on self-directed motivation among our students. Reach out for help if you need it and do not be afraid to contact your professor. There is nothing more disappointing than a student reaching out at the last minute – be proactive in addressing challenges or planning ahead!

Get in touch with Zachary Rowan:

Phone: 778-782-6656
Email: zrowan@sfu.ca

Burnaby Office: Saywell Hall 10325