Williams' academic interests fit under the general headings of family sociology, development sociology, and demography, and her work is typically focused geographically in the United States and Southeast Asia. Her most recent published research examines (1) issues surrounding family formation (for example, changing attitudes toward marriage in the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam), (2) issues surrounding fertility attitudes, intentions, and behavior (most recently among couples in the Philippines, and previously regarding both women`s and men`s experiences with unplanned pregnancy in the United States), and (3) theory and methods in the study of the educational attainment of children (most recently in Thailand and the Philippines). Williams' current focus is on overseas labor migration from the Philippines, particularly the effects of that migration on children who stay behind when their parents take positions, often on extended year contracts, abroad. She is also working with graduate students on understanding the practice of transnational marriage in East and Southeast Asia.
Her current and past research endeavors all contribute to the courses she teaches in regular rotation: Social Change and Population Processes in Asia (DS 6120), Qualitative Research Methods (DS 6150), Human Migration (DS 4300/6300), and Population and Development (DS 4380/6380). Williams introduces students to substantive results from published work and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques that produced the findings. In the Qualitative Methods course, it examines the full process of conducting research, from identifying a potential topic, to preparing for and carrying out fieldwork, to coding transcripts and analyzing results. It discusses the ethics and legalities of social science research and highlight case studies of dilemmas from the field. As part of her involvement in the Institute for Social Sciences. Evolving Family Project, she co-taught a course on the Changing Family in Asia. In that course, it compared the types of questions asked, approaches taken, and findings emerging from the disciplines of Economics and Sociology regarding the institution of the family in different contexts in Asia. As she does in her course on population dynamics and social change in Asia, it underscored the processes that have transformed Asian societies over the last century. It also considered shifting gendered norms, changes in household divisions of labor, and inter-personal dynamics. In each class, students learn about the theories, data, and methods that are used to generate the information that appears in the texts they study.