Danielle Williams

Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
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    • Washington University in St Louis
    • One Brookings Drive
    • MSC 1029-153-207
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Danielle joins IPH at Washington University as a 2023-2025 Mellon Fellow.

    Danielle J. Williams studies methodologies in the brain sciences with an emphasis on computational models and how they relate to the physical mechanisms of the brain.


    As a philosopher of science, Danielle J. Williams studies the relationship between formal models and the physical systems that they are meant to explain. She is particularly interested in how we should understand the brain as a physical computing system. What is it about the brain such that it counts as a computing system and what warrants interpreting the brain as performing a particular computational process? More generally, studying the relationship between formal models and physical systems requires an understanding of the methodological choices and modeling practices that lead to the development of different types of models. Understanding this relationship can provide insight into how it might be possible to unify different types of explanations of the same physical process (e.g., dynamical and computational), whether we should take our models to be saying literally true things about the physical world, and whether we should be ontologically committed to the entities described in the models, among other things.


    Danielle is particularly interested in teaching courses that critically engage with scientific methodologies in cognitive science and neuroscience by asking questions about the roles that different types of models play in developing an understanding of mental processes. In the fall, she will teach a freshman seminar about methodologies in cognitive science. Much of this course will involve visits to laboratories that engage with cognitive science. In the spring, she will co-teach an upper division course on theory and methods in the humanities.