Nicholas Evans

Nicholas G. Evans, Ph.D., MSME

Chair, Associate Professor

College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Dugan 200F


Areas of Specialization: Bioethics, Military Ethics, Public Health Ethics

Areas of Competence: Philosophy of Science, Political Philosophy, Health Care Policy, Security Studies


  • M.S.: Medical Ethics, The University of Pennsylvania, 2019
  • Ph.D.: School of Philosophy, The Australian National University, 2013
  • Graduate Teaching Program Certificate: Australian National University, 2011
  • B.S.: (Honours, Physics), The University of Sydney, 2006


Nicholas G. Evans, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. A 2020-2023 Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar, he currently conducts research on the ethics of emerging technologies, with a focus on national security issues. He is best known for his research on "dual-use research" in the life sciences and has recently begun work examining research ethics concerns arising from the performance enhancement of active military personnel, funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

In addition to his work on emerging technologies, Evans is a recognized expert in public health ethics, writing on the ethics of social distancing, research ethics during health emergencies, and the use of force in pandemic response. His 2016 collection, Ebola's Message: Public Health and Medicine in the 21st Century received favorable reviews in Nature. In late 2021 he will publish a new, sole-authored work on pandemic preparedness with The MIT Press titled, War on All Fronts: A Theory of Just Health Security.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Massachusetts, Evans completed postdoctoral research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2015, he held an Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative Fellowship at the UPMC Center for Health Security, Baltimore. He also previously served as a policy officer with the Australian Department of Health and Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2020-2023: Greenwall Faculty Scholar. The Ethics of Warfighter Research.
  • 2019: Visiting Fellow, Center for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge, UK (Sept-Dec)
  • 2017: SB7.0 Biosecurity Fellow, National University of Singapore (June).

Selected Publications

  • Ricotta, Emily E., Jennifer L. Kwan, Brianna A. Smith, and Nicholas G. Evans. "Chronic Diseases: Perceptions about Covid-19 Risk and Vaccination." MedRxiv, March 24, 2021, 2021.03.17.21253760.
  • Shortland, Neil D., Nicholas Evans, and John Colautti. "A Public Health Ethics Model of Countering Violent Extremism." Terrorism and Political Violence 33, no. 2 (February 17, 2021): 324-37.
  • Pamela Robinson, Landy Sun, Heidi Furey, Ryan Jenkins, Christopher R. Phillips, Thomas M. Powers, Ryan Ritterson, Yuanchang Xie, Rocco Casagrande, and Nicholas G. Evans. "Modeling Ethical Algorithms in Autonomous Vehicles Using Crash Data" IEEE Transactions in Intelligent Transportation Systems (accepted for publication).
  • Julia Lynch, Nicholas Evans, Erin Ice, & Deena Kelly. "Ignoring Nurses: Media Coverage during the COVID-19 Pandemic." Annals of the American Thoracic Society. (2021).
  • Nicholas G. Evans, Joel M. Reynolds, and Kaylee Johnson, "Moving Through Capacity Space: Mapping Disability and Enhancement" Journal of Medical Ethics (2020)
  • Nicholas G. Evans, "Human Infection Challenge Studies: a Test for the Social Value Criterion of Research Ethics" mSphere (2020) DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00669-20
  • Luke Kemp, Laura Adam, Christian R Boehm, Rainer Breitling, Rocco Casagrande, Malcolm Dando, Appolinaire Djikeng, Nicholas G Evans (39 authors), "Bioengineering Horizon Scan 2020," ELife 9 (2020): e54489,
  • Nicholas G Evans, "The Ethics of Social Distancing," The Philosopher's Magazine 89, no. 2 (2020): 96-103.
  • Nicholas G. Evans, "The Ethics of Research during Quarantine" BMJ (2020).
  • Zackary D. Berger, Nicholas G. Evans, Alexandra L. Phelan, Ross D. Silverman, "Covid-19: control measures must be equitable and inclusive" BMJ 368 (2020): m1141
  • Nicholas G. Evans, Kelly Hills, and Adam C. Levine, "How Should The Sharing of Research and Clinical Practice in Infectious Disease Outbreak Be Guided by the WHO?" AMA Journal of Ethics (2020)
  • Nicholas G. Evans, Robert Simpson, and Michael J. Selgelid, "Reconciling Regulation with Scientific Autonomy in Dual-Use Research," Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (2019).
  • Nicholas G. Evans, Dominic Sisti, and Jonathan Moreno, "Ethical considerations on the complicity of psychologists and scientists in torture" Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 165 (2019) pp. 248-255.
  • Nicholas G. Evans, "Models of Scientific and Technological Review for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention: A Conceptual Analysis," The Nonproliferation Review (2019).
  • Nicholas G. Evans, "Ethical and Philosophical Considerations for Gain-of-Function Policy: The Importance of Alternate Experiments" Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6 (2018) DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00011

Selected Presentations

The Ethics and Equity of Pandemic Response. Summer Workshop on Pandemics and Global Health Security, George Mason University (July 21, 2021)
Reassessing Biosecurity Ethics: Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Studies Association. (February 3, 2021).
Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles: Why the Trolley Problem is the Right Answer to All the Wrong Questions. SHIFT Mobility, Berlin (virtual) (September 3, 2020)
Models of Scientific and Technological Review in the BTWC, 2nd Preparatory Committee to the 8th Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Geneva (August 10, 2016).
2019 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Geneva (December 3, 2019)
Ethics and autonomous vehicles: from trolley-preferences to data-theories. Briefing to the UK Department for Transport Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, UK (14 November, 2019).
Scientific Freedom. Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge, UK (November 8, 2019)
Invited talk at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford, UK (November 12, 2019).
Going viral? Deliberately releasing GM viruses into the environment. Panel at the 2019 Meeting of Experts to the Biological Weapons Convention, Geneva, CH. (July 31, 2019).
Health Emergencies and Armed Conflict. Presentation at the 2019 Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative Research Workshop, Washington, D.C. (Wednesday, July 24-25, 2019)
Modelling Ethical Algorithms in Autonomous Vehicles Using Crash Data. Keynote at the 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Symposium Workshop, "Ethical Algorithms and Autonomous Vehicles," Orlando, FL (July 15, 2019)
Invited talk at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C. (January 12, 2020)
Distributive justice and autonomous vehicles. Invited talk at "Promise and Problems in Emerging Technology: Shaping the Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence" at University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (February 28-March 1, 2019)
"Autonomous Vehicle Ethics: Beyond the Trolley Problem" at Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic (June 27-28, 2019)
The ethics of testing experimental enhancements on warfighters. Carnegie Mellon University Research Ethics Workshop, Pittsburgh, PA (November 2, 2018)
Racial and Gendered Dimensions of Chronic Pain in the Context of the Opioid Crisis. American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, Anaheim CA (October 21, 2018)
How much does autonomy matter? A lot. Invited talk at "Medical Decision Making Affinity Group: a lively debate on the primacy of autonomy," American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, Anaheim CA (October 19, 2018).
The ethics of autonomous vehicles: beyond the commuter car. 2018 Conference on Transportation Innovation and Cost Savings, Hamilton, ON (September 25, 2018).
Distributive justice and autonomous vehicles: from individual to political. Presentation at the "Ethics of Connected and AVs" breakout session, Autonomous Vehicles Symposium, San Francisco (July 11, 2018).
The ethics of translational neuroscience in national security settings. Poster at the Volkswagen Foundation Meeting, "Lost in the Maze? Navigating Evidence and Ethics in Translational Neuroscience," Hanover, Germany (February 14, 2018).

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • 2021-2024: The ethics of warfighter participation in the development and testing of emerging neurotechnologies. Department of Defense. PIs Evans, Shortland, Gross, Moreno. $1,114,740 USD.
  • 2020-2023: The Ethics of Warfighter Enhancement. Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholars Award. PI Evans. $209,749 USD.
  • 2019-2022: ENG-ED 4.0: Educating the Next Generation of Engineers to Drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution Davis Educational Foundation. PIs Willis, Evans, Mack, Hansen. $293,710 USD.
  • 2019: Going viral? Deliberately releasing GM viruses into the environment. Max Plank Society. PIs Reeves, Evans, Voneky, Beck, Jeramais. €50,000 EUR.
  • 2017-2020: Ethical Algorithms in Autonomous Vehicles. National Science Foundation Grant 1734521. PIs Evans, Xie, Furey. $556,650 USD.