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curriculum vitae

PhD,  University of California,  Davis, Spring 2023
Dissertation TitleImplementation and Interpretation: A Unified Account of Physical Computation
MA, University of California, Davis, Spring 2019
Master's Thesis: Existential Introduction & Justification for Believing

BA, California State University, Sacramento, Spring 2016 
Philosophy [Ethics, Politics, & Law] - Magna Cum Laude​
Senior Thesis: Organs for sale: Markets without limits

2023-2025: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Washington University in St. Louis

Psychological & Brain Sciences & Philosophy

Mentor: Jeff Zacks | Dynamic Cognition Laboratory

2018-2023: Graduate Student Teaching Assistant

University of California, Davis

Philosophy & Cognitive Science


School of Ideas in Neuroscience | 2024

Nencki Open Lab in Warsaw, Poland

Funded  Visiting Lecturer on Metatheory in Neuroscience

Nomination: 2022-2023 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award

Nominated for Minds, Brains, & Computers, Spring 2022

NSF Travel Grant | 2022

Philosophy of Science Association Meeting: $432.87

John Templeton Foundation / Duke University Project Grant | 2022

Computation and Systematicity in Human Behavior: $17,720

Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy at Duke University (SSNAP)| 2022

Funded Fellow | Honorarium: $1,000

Graduate Student Fellowship | 2020

UC Davis | $7,500

Nammour Award | 2016

Awarded for the best essay on a philosophical topic during Spring semester | $100

CSUS Perry Weddle Award | 2015

Awarded for the best essay on a philosophical topic during Fall semester | $100



Peer Reviewed


Williams, D. (2022). Markov blankets: Realism and our ontological commitments. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 45, E217. doi:10.1017/S0140525X22000255

Invited Book Chapters

Russin, J., McGrath, S., Williams, D., Elber-Dorozko, L. (forthcoming). 'From Frege to ChatGPT: Compositionality in Language, Cognition, and Deep Neural Networks' in Neuroscience & Philosophy, MIT Press

Williams, Danielle J. and Piccinini, Gualtiero (2024'Philosophy of Technology' in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Technology and the Humanities.

Williams, Danielle J. and Drayson, Zoe (2023). ‘The nature of the predictive mind: Realism and instrumentalism in Bayesian cognitive science’, in Tony Cheng, Ryoji Sato, and Jakob Hohwy (eds.) Expected Experiences: The Predictive Mind in an Uncertain World. Routledge.

Public Writing:

Williams, Danielle J. (2024). 'We've been here before: AI promised human-like machines – in 1958' in The Conversation

Williams, Danielle J. (forthcoming in 2024). 'Merging mechanisms with implementation.' Commentary on 'The Physical Signatures of Computation: A Robust Mapping Account'. in The Brains Blog

Papers under review: 

1. 'How to be a realist about computational neuroscience' 
      (R&R, Synthese, under review after revision)


Papers in progress: 

1. Burning the bridge: why a theory of implementation doesn't work for cognitive science (complete, prepping for submission)

2. Three questions about physical computation (revisions in progress)

3. What do computers do? Does the brain do that? (in progress)

4. An unclimbable ladder: the relation between physical mechanisms and computational models (in progress)

5. What is minimal in minimal computation? (co-authored for a special issue)


Peer Review:

Minds & Machines


British Journal for Philosophy of Science

Philosophical Psychology

Mind & Language

WIREs Cognitive Science

Program Committee

7th International Conference on the History and Philosophy of Computing


Upcoming Presentation, "How to be a realist about computational neuroscience" at the annual meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP) | June 2024

Upcoming Invited Lecture, "What do theories of physical computation have to do with neuroscience?" |  School of Ideas in Neuroscience, Nencki Open Lab, Poland | July 2024

Invited Micro Talk, "We've Been Here Before." at the AI + Society Brunch  | May 2024

Invited Presentation, "New Language of Thought | Same Critique" at the Mini-Conference on Modal Logic and Connectionism" at the University of Houston | April 2024

Invited Presentation, "How to be a realist about computational neuroscience" at The Edinburgh University Cognitive Science Society Meeting | April 2024

Presentation, 'Thinking about Levels'  at the 115th Annual Meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology | March 2024

Invited Presentation, 'What philosophers can offer collaborative neural engineering' | California State University, Sacramento | March 2024

Colloquium Talk, 'Marr's levels are not levels of abstraction' at Washington University in St. Louis, Philosophy Department Colloquium | November 2023


Invited Presentation
Conference topic: the role of representation and computation in the study of language and mind at the Philosophy Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia |  June 2023
(unable to attend due to postdoc relocation time frame)


Presentation"Anti-anti individualism about computational implementation" at the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology | March 2023

Symposium Presentation, "Physical Signatures of Computation" at the Philosophy of Science Association Biennial Meeting | 2022.

Symposium participants: Gualtiero Piccinini, Neal Anderson, David Barack, Paula Quinon, J. Brendan Ritchie, Pawel Stacewicz, and Danielle J. Williams

Colloquium Talk, "Implementation, Individuation, and Triviality in Computational Theories" at the Chico State University Philosophy Colloquium Series | November 2022

Presentation, "What a theory of computation can't be if the brain is a computer" at Philosophy and Neuroscience at the Gulf, 5th Annual Meeting of the Deep South Philosophy and Neuroscience Workgroup | 2022

Presentation, "There cannot be a mechanism only theory of computation" at the 37th-Annual CHPS Conference, Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience: Content, Self, and Cognitive Ontology | 2022

Joint Presentation, "Marr, instrumentalism and Bayesian cognitive science" at the 96th Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association |  July 2022 (with Zoe Drayson) 

Presentation, "There cannot be a mechanism only theory of computation" at the Rotman Graduate Student Conference, Rotman Institute of Philosophy | May 2022


Presentation: “Minds, Understanding, and Artificial Intelligence” presented at the UCD Undergraduate Philosophy Conference | Spring 2016


Presentation: “McCausal Impotence: How Your Chicken Sandwich Matters” presented at the CSUS Nammour Symposium | Spring 2016


Presentation: “Knowledge as Justified True Belief” at the Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference | Spring 2016


Presentation: “Gettier’s Problem: The Problem with the Gettier Problem” presented at CSUS Perry Weddle Colloquium | Fall 2016


 Commentator, 'Neural Network Modeling as Task Analysis, Not Mechanistic Explanation'  at the 115th Annual Meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology | March 2024

Invited Commentator, St. Louis area Philosophy of Science Association (SLaPSA) book symposium on The Physical Signatures of Computation: A Robust Mapping Account' by Neal Anderson and Gualtiero Piccinini | March 2024

Invited Commentator, Society for the Metaphysics of Science 'Is Computation Essentially Medium-Independent?', American Philosophical Association | 2024 Central Division Meeting

with Lawrence Shapiro (chair), Zoe Drayson (Speaker), & Corey Maley (Speaker)

Panelist, 'Generative AI Panel Discussion' at the AI Digital Health Summit, Washington University in St. Louis | 2023

Panelist, Graduate Student Panel at the Cognitive Science Conference, University of California, Davis | 2023

Commentator, "Why we cannot resolve the scientific realism debate" at the American Philosophical Association | 2023 Central Division Meeting 

Commentator: " What Justifies the Model-to-Mechanism-Mapping Requirement?" at the American Philosophical Association | 2022 Central Division Meeting.

Discussant: "Computation with Neural Manifolds"

Neural Mechanisms Online, a webinar series on the philosophy of neuroscience | January 2021.

Commentator: "Opening up the Openness of Joint Attention" 

American Philosophical Association | 2021 Eastern Division Meeting.


Poster Session, "Implementation, individuation, and triviality in computational theories" at the The Society for Philosophy and Psychology (ESP/EPP) | July 2022
-Declined presentation due to inability to travel

Poster Session: "The mechanistic account of computation and the implementation relation" at the American Philosophical Association | 2022 Central Division Meeting


Session Chair, "Unraveling Discovery Dynamics in Open Science Partnerships" at the 57th Cincinnati Philosophy Colloquium Series: Explanation and Complexity in Biology and Psychology | 2023

Book Symposium Chair, "Cognitive Ontology: Taxonomic Practices in the Mind-Brain Sciences" at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meeting | 2023


Book Symposium Chair, "The Nature of Physical Computation," by Oron Shagrir at the American Philosophical Association | Pacific Division Meeting, 2022

Symposium participants: Oron Shagrir, Rosa Cao, Frances Egan, Corey J. Maley, and Danielle J. Williams


Reading Groups

Neuroscience, Computation, and AI

A reading group hosted by me and Carl Craver geared toward Grad Students on topics centering around the use of computational modeling and AI in neuroscience.

WashU, Scheduled for Fall 2024 

From Deep Learning to Rational Machines

A reading group on Cameron Buckner's book on machine learning

Online, Summer 2024

Interdisciplinary Philosophy of Science Reading Group

Features members from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and physics.

WashU, Fall 2023 - current

MENTaL Reading & Research Group (Mind, Epistemology, Neuroscience,  Thought, and Language)

UCD, Founding member, Spring 2018 - 2023

Professional Organizations

Philosophy of Science Association: 2019 - Present

American Philosophical Association: 2012 - Present

Southern Society for Philosophy & Psychology: 2024 - Present

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Areas of Specialization








Human Subjects Research Training

CITI Program Course:

    Social & Behavioral Research

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