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Personal profile


My current research interests are in two main areas: 

Firstly, I am interested in the issue of racial-ethnic- and gender-based inequalities in academic and scientific medical and scientific careers.  Specifically, current research looks at the career aspirations and experiences of PhD students and postdoctoral and early-career researchers under conditions of employment insecurity.  I am currently Co-Investigator on a large U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in this area.

Secondly, I am also interested in corporate power and  'corporatology' as related to public health; particularly in the areas of the food, beverage and tobacco industries.  My recent book, co-edited with Marion Nestle, on Big Food (Routledge, 2016), explores the role of corporations in the global rise of unhealthy diets and their associated diseases.

I aim to produce research that is of interest to a variety of non-academic audiences as well as to the public more broadly.   He has worked with a number of charities and NGOs and his research has been discussed in a number of media outlets including The Times, The BBC and Science Magazine.  

Before joining Aston, I was Research Assistant Professor at Northwestern University in Chicago in the United States.   He is also currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at Northwestern.  He completed his PhD in Sociology and Social Policy at Cardiff University, and has also held teaching or research positions at the University of Bath and the University of Cambridge.


Research Interests

  • Broadening participation (understanding and reducing inequalities) in academic and sceintific (STEM) careers
  • The impact of corporations on public health, especially food and beverage corporations
  • Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention in educational and professional settings
  • Qualitative longitudinal research methodology

Teaching Activity

  • Research Methods (LK2025)
  • Global Society (LK2020)

Media Contributions


Williams S. N. (2014) ‘Women in Science: Measuring the Progress’, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, Nov 9th 2014.

Williams S. N. (2014) ‘If Obesity is a Disease, Then What? Letter to the Editor’New York Times, March 2nd 2014.

Williams, S. N. (2014) ‘Better Ways to Battle the Silent Epidemic on Campus’Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2nd 2014.

Williams, S.N. (2013) ‘Mental Health Screening in Schools’, British Medical Journal. Article discussed in: BBC News (View), The Times (View), The Telegraph (View), BBC Radio 5 Live, Times Higher Educational Supplement (View). 

Williams, S. N. (2012) ‘Time for indoor tanning taxes in the EU’, British Medical Journal 345:e6550. Article discussed in:  The NY Daily News (US) (View), The Mirror (UK) (View), The Telegraph (UK) (View). 


Invited Talks

Williams S.N. (2014)  ‘Mental Health Screening in Schools’, Invited session plenary for the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, April 4th 2014 Birmingham, UK.

Williams S.N. (2014)  ‘Mental Health Screening in Schools’, Invited Keynote for the Royal Society of Arts conference on ‘Crucial Beginnings’, April 2nd 2014, London, UK.

Funding Applications and Awards

Co-Investigator: MIRA (Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards), Integrated empirical and translational research to diversify the scientific workforce, Award number: 1R35GM118184-01.  (P.I. Rick McGee).  U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2016-2021, $1.9 million.

Contact Details

Email: s.williams11@aston.ac.uk

Phone: 0121 204 3315

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Simon Williams is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Carbonated Beverages Medicine & Life Sciences
coaching Social Sciences
Public Health Medicine & Life Sciences
Taxes Medicine & Life Sciences
Industry Medicine & Life Sciences
career Social Sciences
Health Policy Medicine & Life Sciences
Food Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2008 2019

Corporations' use and misuse of evidence to influence health policy: A case study of sugar-sweetened beverage taxation

Fooks, G. J., Williams, S., Box, G. & Sacks, G., 25 Sep 2019, In : Globalization and health. 15, 1, 56.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Health Policy

Providing social support for underrepresented racial and ethnic minority phd students in the biomedical sciences: a career coaching model

Williams, S. N., Thakore, B. K. & McGee, R., 1 Dec 2017, In : CBE Life Sciences Education. 16, 4, ar64.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Social Support
national minority
social support

Big food: critical perspectives on the global growth of the food and beverage industry

Williams, S. N. (ed.) & Nestle, M. (ed.), 25 Feb 2016, Routledge. 158 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Critical perspective
Public health
Food and beverage

Career coaches as a source of vicarious learning for racial and ethnic minority PhD students in the biomedical sciences: a qualitative study

Williams, S. N., Thakore, B. K. & McGee, R., 28 Jul 2016, In : PLoS ONE. 11, 7, 19 p., e0160038.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Coaching to augment mentoring to achieve faculty diversity: a randomized controlled trial

Williams, S. N., Thakore, B. K. & McGee, R., 1 Aug 2016, In : Academic Medicine. 91, 8, p. 1128-1135 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
academic career