Scholar Spotlight: Darryl Williams

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Tufts University
Research Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Director, Center for STEM Diversity

Sloan Scholar PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park




1.     What is the best part of your job?

I would say that the best part of my work is being able to explore different types of research across engineering (technical) and education.  That is what I find rewarding about being in academia, because you do not have to be limited by one particular area.  If you find something interesting and can get the resources to pursue it, then there are ample opportunities to make an impact.


2.    How did the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funding affect your academic trajectory?

Being supported by the Sloan Foundation allowed me to continue on to pursue my Ph.D.  I had originally intended to stop at the Master’s degree, but my advisor encouraged me to dive deeper into my research.  But without the support from Sloan, I would not have been able to do that.  Also, being connected to Sloan carries a lot of weight in the academic world, so having that on my CV makes me stand out as a competitive scholar.


3.    What have you found to be the biggest challenge in your work (either your research, administrative work, or teaching)?

The challenge has been balancing my research, administrative, and teaching.  My primary focus has been administration and research, with little teaching (although this will change in the fall).  I do work with faculty to help them think about ways to make teaching and learning more inclusive through my position as director of the Tufts Center for STEM Diversity. In my new role as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, I’m responsible for everything related to undergraduate curriculum, advising, and assessment.  So this means I have a hand in making decisions that affect both faculty and students in Tufts School of Engineering. So overall, it is extremely helpful and important that I have great staff and colleagues to work with to make everything run effectively and efficiently.


4.    What is the last article/book/news on any topic you heard or read that prompted a strong reaction from you? Briefly tell us about it.

I read a recent manuscript in Educational Researcher that talked about a study conducted to validate the need for more minority educators in K-12 because they are shown to be more empathic and can relate to the growing number of students of color.  While I absolutely agree we need to encourage more people of color to pursue K-12 education, I don’t think that means we reduce the expectations on majority teachers to be engaged and intentionally contribute to the academic success for all students.




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