Sociologist, scholar Dr. Regina Baker to deliver Byington Lecture on the contemporary South

Headshot of Dr. Regina Baker
Dr. Regina Baker

MACON — Mercer University’s Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies will welcome Dr. Regina Baker for the sixth Laurie Byington Lecture on the Contemporary South on Jan. 18.

Dr. Baker’s lecture “Context Matters: Applying the Sociological Imagination to Poverty and Racial Inequality in the American South” is free and open to the public and will take place at 6 p.m. in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center on the Macon campus.

“We are honored to bring Dr. Regina Baker back to campus,” said Dr. Doug Thompson, professor of history and director of the Spencer B. King Jr. Center. “She was a student here and earned a degree in sociology before embarking on a career as a professional sociologist.”

At Mercer, Dr. Baker double-majored in sociology and leadership and community service with a social work concentration. As a Southerner born and raised in Savannah with parents hailing from low-country South Carolina, Dr. Baker says she views the American South as a salient and useful site for sociological inquiry.

“Her work in rural healthcare disparities has its roots in the coursework she took at Mercer,” said Dr. Thompson. “Her research has cut new paths in understanding the powerful imbalance for those living at or near poverty and adequate healthcare. There is no better example of a Mercer Bear who majored in changing the world.”

Dr. Baker has published in several peer-reviewed outlets, including the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Forces, and Social Problems, ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and Population Research and Policy Review. She has presented her work to both national and international audiences, and her research has been funded by the American Sociological Association, Ford Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health.

Dr. Baker is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and a faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining UNC-CH, she was an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Laurie Byington Lecture Series promotes an examination of the contemporary American South. Madge T. Byington established the series to honor her daughter, a 1992 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and former member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Board of Directors, and to assist the University in bringing a distinguished expert, or recognized leader in his/her field or discipline, to the Macon campus to give an annual lecture.

The lectures and other activities of the King Center are supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies

The Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies fosters critical discussions about the many meanings of the South. As the only center for Southern studies in the United States dedicated to the education and enrichment of undergraduate students, the Center’s primary purpose is to examine the region’s complex history and culture through courses, conversations and events that are open, honest and accessible. For more information, visit