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Luther Williams

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Information about Luther Williams

Profile image of Luther Williams

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
Biologist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Barbados
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/19/1940
Birth Location:
Wedgeworth, Alabama

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
Biologist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Barbados
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/19/1940
Birth Location:
Wedgeworth
See how Luther Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Biologist and academic administrator Luther Williams was born on August 19, 1940 in Wedgeworth, Alabama to Mattie Wallace Williams and Roosevelt Williams, the third of nine children. Williams grew up fascinated by living systems and was encouraged by his fifth grade math and science teacher to pursue his interest in science. After graduating from Hale County Training School in Greensboro, Alabama, Williams attended Miles College, earning his B.S. degree in biology in 1961. Two years later, Williams received his M.S. degree from Atlanta University, where he studied under Dr. Mary Logan Reddick. Williams was awarded an NIH pre-doctoral fellowship to study at Purdue University in 1966, enabling him to work with Dr. Frederick C. Neidhardt and earn his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology in 1968.

Within the next decade, Williams continued his work at Purdue University by 1979, he was named a full professor of biology at Purdue University. Williams conducted a significant amount of his scientific research while at Purdue University, Washington University (while serving as the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) and the University of Colorado, at which he served as the vice president for academic affairs of the University of Colorado system. His research focused on the properties and cellular regulation of aminoacyl-transfer ribonucleic acid synthetases, key enzymes in the biological process of translating the genetic code to usable proteins.

In 1984, Williams was named the president of Atlanta University. He then served as the chair of the White House Biotechnology Science Coordinating Committee, the deputy director of the National Institute of General Medical Science of the National Institutes of Health, and assistant director of education and human resources at the National Science Foundation. After serving as the William T. Kemper Director of Education and Interpretation at the Missouri Botanical Garden from 2001 to 2005, Williams was invited to join the faculty of Tuskegee University as the dean of graduate studies and research and then provost and vice president of academic affairs. He was subsequently reappointed to provost and vice president for academic affairs at Tuskegee University in 2010.

Williams has been recognized for his leadership and his dedication to creating opportunities for minorities in the sciences. He received the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award by President Clinton in 1993. He was also named distinguished alumnus of the School of Science, Purdue University in 1997. In addition, he received the William A. Hinton Research Training Award from the American Society for Microbiology in 2000, and a number of honorary doctorate degrees. He has contributed to over seventy academic papers and professional scientific journals and more than twenty articles concerning the status of science education in the United States. He was also named one of the fifty most important Blacks in science research by Spectrum magazine in 2005, and was appointed a member of the Council of Councils, Office of the Director, the National Institutes of Health in 2009.

Williams lives with his wife, Constance Marion. The couple has two adult children, Mark and Monique Williams.

Luther Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 11, 2011.

See how Luther Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Luther Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Luther Williams shares his favorites.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Luther Williams talks about his mother's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Luther Williams relates stories from his mother's life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Luther Williams talks about his father's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Luther Williams describes the area where his father was born
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Luther Williams talks about the history of Tuskegee University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Luther Williams talks about his great-grandmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Luther Williams talks about his father's education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Luther Williams explains how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Luther Williams talks about his parents' dispositions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Luther Williams talks about his confidantes and his early interest in science and living systems
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Luther Williams recalls growing up in his great-grandmother's house, part 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Luther Williams recalls growing up in his great-grandmother's house, part 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Luther Williams talks about his elementary school experience
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Luther Williams talks about his interest in science and influential teachers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Luther Williams discusses his path from high school to Tuskegee University and later Miles College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Luther Williams describes his discipline and work ethic in college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Luther Williams talks about influential professors at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Luther Williams recalls meeting his wife in graduate school at Atlanta University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Luther Williams describes his graduate school experience at Purdue University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Luther Williams discusses the nature of African Americans in science higher education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Luther Williams describes his Ph.D. dissertation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Luther Williams discusses the practical applications of his dissertation research
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Luther Williams responds to a comment about antibacterial hand sanitizers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - "Luther Williams talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Luther Williams talks about activists and politicians who were trained as scientists
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Luther Williams relates his experience with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Luther Williams talks about the relationship between science and religion
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Luther Williams talks about his transition from working at Atlanta University to working at Purdue University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Luther Williams talks about his experience working at Purdue University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Luther Williams details the progression of his career, part 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Luther Williams details the progression of his career, part 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Luther Williams explains his program, Alliance for Minority Participation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Luther Williams describes his program Urban Systemic Initiative
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Luther Williams talks about his position with the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Luther Williams explains his positions at Tuskegee University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Luther Williams reflects on his life's accomplishments and the significance of his genetics research
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Luther Williams discusses genetic manipulation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Luther Williams talks about his great-grandmother and his brother
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Luther Williams talks about his goals for Tuskegee University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Luther Williams explains how he would like to be remembered