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A group photo of my Winter 2023 Intro to Cognitive Science class showing off the neurons we made during class!


Seminar on Theories & Methods

CO-INSTRUCTOR (with Shirl Yang, PhD)

Washington University in St. Louis, Spring 2024

Seminar Topic: Thought & Feeling

Thinking versus feeling, rationality versus emotion—we often think of these terms in stark opposition. This semester, we will complicate that opposition by demonstrating that what we mean by “thinking” and “feeling” is deeply contested and highly variable depending on which conversation you are in and how you are using the concepts. The course takes a dialectical approach to topics centering around thought and feelings. Part of the course will take a broadly analytical approach in the philosophical tradition focusing on central issues in philosophy of mind and epistemology (sections 1 and 3) while the other half will take a literary and cultural studies approach (sections 2 and 4).

Currently Teaching!

Research Methodologies in Cognitive Science


Washington University in St. Louis, Fall 2023

Course Description:

Out of the classroom and into the lab! This class lets you get an up-close and personal look at the methods and strategies used for theory development in Cognitive Science. We'll engage with techniques such as behavioral experiments, fMRI, neural recordings, and more! Then we'll apply our experiences by considering how the different methods work together in a complementary way to give robust explanations of our mental capacities. 

Some Student Comments:

"In class we often did hands–on lessons. One time we split into groups, all learned about a different section of the same topic, and then taught it to the class. It was fun, engaging, and I retained information better since I had to teach it afterwards."

"I really enjoyed when we did in class experiments and activities. For example, we did short term memory games that taught us the actual implications of the material that we were learning."

"Teaching a topic on Pupilometry to the class helped me learn the topic well. We were given the guidance on how to lead the "lesson", and I felt like I really put an effort on knowing the material so I could explain it."

"I really enjoyed the neuron activity in this class. Professor Williams always seemed to care about doing what was best for the class and catering to our learning needs. I can tell she cares about what she teaches and the learning of her students. The lab visits were also really beneficial for my understanding."

"I think Professor Williams' passion for us to learn and coherent structure of the class helped facilitate my learning as I did not have to worry about where to find things or what to do as it was all laid out for us."

"I think one part of the class that helped me understand the material more was the fact that we had interactive lab visits where we were able to learn different aspects of cognitive science in an in–person, real life research lab."

"Danielle Williams is a genuine professor that cares about all her students. She does this by appreciating everyone's thoughts and feelings regardless the question or thoughts my peers would have about the topics we discuss in class."

Introduction to Cognitive Science


UC Davis, Winter 2023

Course Description:

Cognitive science seeks to understand the mind by integrating findings from such variegated disciplines as philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, evolutionary biology, and artificial intelligence. Among the core principles guiding cognitive science are that mental processes are typically unconscious and computational; that the mind is a biological organ housed in the brain and shaped by evolution; and that many mental capacities are modularly implemented and innate. We will examine these core principles and apply them to understand a wide range of phenomena, including perception, language, mental imagery, logical reasoning, and others. 

Some Student Comments:

"clear slides, clear explanations, willing to answer questions/concerns, clear examples, easy lectures to follow, teacher is passionate about the subject and sets us up for success in exams!"

"Lectures were well organized. Pre-reading was helpful, but she was clear enough in lecture that if I didn’t get to the reading, it still made sense. She progresses logically. She made me very intrigued by the value of cognitive science."

"Ms. Williams taught the class perfectly so far as I was aware. She covered topics in enough detail to provide a basic understanding along with a good foundation for further support with the reading provided. She was willing to take student questions and was able to answer them comprehensively. While I don't wish to pursue further courses in this field, Williams did cover the subject in a way that has left me curious to the subject and interested in following its ongoing development."

"Danielle Williams has been one of the best instructors I have had at UC Davis. She knows and gives out the material very well."

I developed an equitable syllabus for this course that includes female-identifying philosophers and the elimination of works that rely on racist depictions to make a conceptual point. This was done without altering the course content in a substantial way demonstrating that an equitable syllabus does not come at the cost of necessary content.

Philosophy of Mind | Upper Division


UC Davis, Summer Session I, 2021

Course Description:

This course investigates the relation between mind and body, our knowledge of other minds, and the explanation of mental acts. Discussion of such concepts as action, intentionality, and mental causation.





Minds, Brains, and Computers


UC Davis

Summer Session II, 2019, 2020

Spring quarter, 2022




Some Student Comments:

"The instructor was very kind and understanding. The material of the course was challenging but very interesting, thanks to the instructor's method of teaching. The lectures were based off the book but also went into depth about certain topics that the book lightly covered. The weekly writing assignments were manageable and helped me engage better with the course material."

"Danielle's clarity was excellent. Her lectures were very well organized and free of extraneous information. It was clear she understood the topics thoroughly. I found her lectures interesting, and even spent time thinking about the topics outside of class and on my own time. She responded very quickly to any questions, and made summer session less of a headache than I remember it in the past. She is by far the best T.A. I have worked with."

Some Student Comments from Summer Sessions:

"This is my favorite course I've taken at UC Davis. Danielle did a perfect job explaining such abstract concepts and made sure everyone understood. The curriculum was fascinating, organized, and she knew what she was talking about. Even with such an open ended subject like philosophy, she allowed us to argue our thoughts and took interest in them without making us feel like we were wrong. If I could take this class all 3 quarters I would!"

"Very enthusiastic to teach and makes sure that everyone understands what we are doing before we move topics. One of the most considerate instructors I've had at Davis!"

"She is such a caring teacher, and she was really patient during office hour and after class when we asked her questions. Grading criteria was fair. Course material was also interesting. I even want to switch my major to cognitive science after taking this class. I just wish there was a curve since getting an A is actually not easy even though I worked hard and got an A for my essay and B for my midterm... because multiple-choice final could be tricky and easy to lose points. Overall she is the best professor I met on UC Davis."

Some Student Comments from Spring 2022
(approx. 300 students + 8 sections):

"This professor is amazing when it comes to ensuring students have enough time and resources to understand the material. The integration of worksheets somehow made all the information click for me. Plus the slides and content of the course is intriguing and she’s patient with student questions, and genuinely seems to want to help students. The slides are put together and understandable on their own, but it’s more resourceful when listening to her talk rather than just looking at slides. I would love to take another class with her again!"

"Danielle truly cares about her students and is extremely flexible when a student provides a request. Danielle exemplifies what loving her subject means."

"I thought she was very knowledgeable and informative of the information being presented to the class which allowed me to think more abstractly and form my own opinions given the information. I thought the class was very organized and the instructor was more than willing to help anyone if they had questions. Overall, a great instructor and would love to take another class of hers if given the opportunity!"

"Danielle is awesome. She's clear, she doesn't rush, she engages with the direction the class questions take us, she has a plan and leaves room to deviate from it and gets us back off a tangent when it's appropriate. Her slides are clear and pleasant, her lectures are organized and simple yet plant thought provoking questions. She's happy to point us in the right direction when we want to explore deeper, or look into related articles/ theories. She and her course are great. She's one of the better instructors I've had at Davis. You'd be crazy not to hire her as a professor or advise other universities to do so. She's brilliant yet humble with a good sense of humor. Thank you for having her teach me this course."

"Best professor I have ever had. Honestly, very flexible and wants the students to succeed. I loved going to her class, she was funny and very informative. I had never taken a philosophy course before so I did not know what to expect, but she has set my standard high. Very approachable and I always attended in person classes. I adore this class and it has been the favorite of my Spring Quarter. I wish she was teaching other classes because this class is honestly amazing. Please continue to let her be and instructor here if she wishes to do so, she is honestly great."

"Danielle is one of the best instructors I've had at UC Davis thus far. I could tell that she was genuinely interested in what she was teaching and ensured that all of her students understood the concepts taught in class, even providing us with worksheets and review when she realized our class did poorly on a quiz. Additionally, this class had a safe environment that made me want to attend class, students felt comfortable asking questions to clear confusion or simply to promote discussion of the material. Thank you Danielle!"


Intro to Philosophy

UC Davis, Fall 2020

Some Student Comments:

"My TA did a very good job during this quarter, helping us not only with better understanding concepts and ideas from lectures but also going into detail on the formatting and concepts required of us for strong paper writing in any future philosophy class. She was certainly an all-around high quality TA."

"Danielle was a wonderful TA. She was always prepared with the material and made sure that we all understood the material. She was clear in her delivery and helped clarify specific parts of the course that helped me gain a better overall understanding."

"Danielle is a great TA and whenever I do have a question she clears everything up for me right away. She is very friendly and she is always willing to help the students. The slides she makes always cover everything from the previous lectures and they help me to understand what to write on and how to write explicitly."

Introduction to Philosophy of Biology

UC Davis, Spring 2019

Some Student Comments:

"Very useful section! Engaging and the environment was welcoming because of Danielle. She knows what she is teaching and always helps clarify topics that students need help on. I liked how her class was interactive so I was always 100% engaged and ready to learn as she made it very interesting."

"She knew what she was talking about and she was passionate as well with what she was teaching. I really like how when we have an assignment due she would go over it and she would clarify some confusions and she was willing to help and answer all questions that student had."

"I LOVED DANIELLE! She made me actually excited to go to discussion. I have never had a discussion in my 2 years at Davis that has actually been helpful. Danielle was always so warm and friendly as well as being an amazing TA."

Introduction to Cognitive Science

UC Davis, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022

Some Student Comments:

"An overall amazing TA. I could really tell that she was passionate and cared about the subject. I really appreciated the thought put into condensing the material from the lectures and the discussion section really helped me understand basically all the material."

"She was the best I could have asked for in a TA. Danielle is incredibly kind, inviting, and open to questions asked by students. I loved how she managed to make lecture content even MORE clear and helped with my understanding of the course. I also really appreciated our review sessions."

"INCREDIBLE. I have never felt so supported or cared for by a teacher or TA. Danielle is absolutely amazing."

"Made discussion section extremely interesting and was very helpful when explaining course materials and midterm assignment logistics. Quick to reply to emails. I love the Pusheen guest starring on the slides!!"

Minds, Brains, and Computers

UC Davis, Spring 2018, Winter 2019

Some Student Comments:

"This is the best teacher anyone could ever wish to have. She is dedicated and interested, intelligent and caring. Very organized. Willing to help. Great listener. Excellent knowledge. In general, you know you are dealing with a high quality individual when you are dealing with Danielle. She oozes talent....not even sure this evaluation does her justice."

"she was very engaging."

"She is by far the best TA I have had. I appreciate how she structures her discussions and how knowledgeable she is on the subject. She does a wonderful job of explaining it in multiple ways to make sure we can all grasp the concept and is very receptive to questions. I really enjoy going to her discussions!"

Philosophical Perspectives on Sexuality

UC Davis, Winter 2018, Winter 2020

Some Student Comments:

"Danielle was super nice"

"Danielle is great! She is always willing to answer questions, and give feedback on papers, which helps so much."

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