2023 UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Research, Creative Achievement & Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Awards

The Alumni Association may make up to five awards annually to faculty who have brought honor and recognition to the University through their research or creative activities. Candidates must have been employed full-time by the University of Memphis for at least five academic years prior to the semester of their application or nomination.

Distinguished Research in the Social Sciences, Business & Law

Wesley James, PhD, Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences

wesley jamesCongratulations to Wesley James, PhD, Pat E. Burlison Professor, Department of Sociology on receiving the award at the Spring Faculty Convocation.

James is completing his 14th year at the UofM and serves as Founding Director of the Center for Community Research and Evaluation (CCRE). He received his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in 2009.

His primary research interests are medical sociology, demography, and rural health. Dr. James has delivered talks on rural health around the nation, highlighted by invited presentations on Capitol Hill, the National Cancer Institute, and others. He has been the PI on numerous grants and contracts, including health and educational disparities and COVID vaccination in the Mississippi Delta, along with other Memphis/Shelby County-based projects on digital literacy, workforce development, poverty alleviation, access to LARC, and numerous program evaluations around the city, state, and region. He is a member of a collaborative team on the GROWWTH project, a community partnership led by the university and funded by the TN Dept. of Human Services. Currently, his research agenda is focused in three areas: (1) U.S. mortality disparities across time and place, (2) social determinants of health and mortality in rural America, and (3) evaluating health and educational interventions in the Mississippi Delta.

He is an active member of the Southern Sociological Society (SSS), Population Association of America (PAA), and Southern Demographic Association (SDA), and is currently serving as Past-President of SDA. He is a member of the 2020 class of P.I. Millionaires at the University of Memphis, has been recognized with excellence in teaching as the 2013 recipient of the W. Russell Smith Award and is also the recipient of the 2021 Pat E. Burlison Professor Award and the CAS Distinguished Research Award in the Social Sciences.

James has been published in American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine Population Health, Demographic Research, N-IUSSP, Population Research and Policy Review, Journal of Rural Health, Frontiers of Public Health, Frontiers of Epidemiology, and many others.