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The William T. Grant Foundation has named Deadric Williams, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, one of five members of its newest class of William T. Grant Scholars. The program supports the professional development of promising researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences who have received their terminal degrees within the past seven years. Williams is a family sociologist with expertise in family theory and analyses of stress and health among couples.

Deadric Williams

“I am honored to be selected as a W. T. Grant Scholar,” he said. “This award will not only help broaden my theoretical and methodological skills via personalized mentorship but also accelerate my research program in new and exciting ways.”

Scholars receive $350,000 to execute rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods. As they begin their projects, they build mentoring relationships with experts in pertinent areas and further their research and professional development through annual retreats and workshops with fellow scholars, foundation staff, and other senior researchers. To date, the program has sponsored more than 200 talented researchers.

“In family sociology and demography,” said Williams, “I want to grapple with race and racism. I want to change the narrative of how scholars are talking about racial stratification in poverty and discover a way of looking at the world very differently, by incorporating history and policymaking as shaping our contemporary circumstances.”

In three phases, Williams’s study aims to assess the dynamics of poverty over time through a lens of race and racism; elucidate how individual and family characteristics, racial inequalities in life chances, and tract-level racialized space maintain racial stratification in poverty; and examine whether and how racial inequalities may moderate the effects of individual and family characteristics on poverty.

Williams grew up in Macon, Mississippi, and earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University. He came to UT in 2020 from the University of Nebraska, where he had earned his PhD, completed postdoctoral work, and served on the faculty.

“To me,” said Williams, “being a part of the University of Tennessee means that I have an academic home where scholars are doing similar work that I’m doing. It is an inclusive academic environment and such a dynamic campus with so many scholars doing cutting-edge work.”


Brooks Clark (, 865-974-5471)

Amanda Womac (, 865-974-2992)