Dr Simon Williams

Lecturer in Sociology
Undergraduate Programme Director for Sociology and Policy 

Simon WilliamsSimon is a sociologist of health, medicine and science by background.  His recent research interests are in two main areas.  Firstly, he is interested in the social and political causes of, and policy responses to, a range of public health issues, such as obesity, mental ill health.  His recent book, co-edited with Marion Nestle, on Big Food (Routledge, 2016), explores a number of the social, cultural and political factors that have contributed to the global rise of unhealthy diets and their associated diseases.  Secondly, Simon has conducted research on the issue of racial and gender-based inequalities in medical and scientific careers.  Currently, his research seeks to explore and address the social determinants of the underrepresentation of women and racial and ethnic minority scientists.  He is currently Co-Investigator on a U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in this area.

Simon aims 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, Simon 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.

  • Broadening participation in science
  • Inequalities in scientific and medical careers, specifically by race and gender
  • The impact of corporations on public health, especially food and beverage corporations
  • Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention in education settings
  • Qualitative longitudinal research methodology



Journal Articles

Other Publications

  • Williams, SN & Nestle, M 2016,Introduction – ‘Big Food’: taking a critical perspective on a global public health problem. in SN Williams & M Nestle (eds),Big food: critical perspectives on the global growth of the food and beverage industry.Routledge.
  • Williams, SN 2016,The incursion of ‘Big Food’ in middle-income countries: a qualitative documentary case study analysis of the soft drinks industry in China and India. in SN Williams & M Nestle (eds),Big food: critical perspectives on the global growth of the food and beverage industry.Routledge.
  • Research Methods (LK2025)
  • Global Society (LK2020)



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.

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.

Email: s.williams11@aston.ac.uk

Phone: 0121 204 3315