portrait of Dan Simons
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About Dan
Education
I am a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois. I received a B.A. in psychology and cognitive science from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Cornell University. I spent five years on the faculty in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, first as an assistant professor and then as the John Loeb Associate Professor. I moved to the University of Illinois in 2002.
Research funding and honors
Over the past 20 years, in addition to support from the universities where I have worked, my research has been funded by the Jacob Javits Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, and General Motors. In 2003, I received the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Assocation. In 2004, Christopher Chabris and I jointly received the Ig Nobel Prize in Psychology for showing that it is possible to hide a "gorilla" in plain sight (the "Prize" awards research that first makes you laugh and then makes you think).
Teaching
During my career, I have taught a range of courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. I currently teach Introduction to Experimental Psychology as well as graduate and undergraduate courses in visual cognition. I also teach a department-wide graduate course on professional issues in psychology.

As a product of a liberal arts college known for exceptional undergraduate instruction, I am particular humbled by the awards I have received for teaching and mentoring, and I find teaching to be a great source of inspiration in my thinking and research. Some of my best-known studies have come from undergraduate laboratory classes I have taught over the years. As a graduate student at Cornell, I received the Annual Teaching Award for the best teaching by a psychology department graduate student. At Harvard, I received awards for both undergraduate and graduate mentoring (the John Marquand Award and the Excellence in Mentoring Award). At the University of Illinois, I received the Graduate Student Organization Award. Several times, I have appeared on the list of teachers ranked as excellent.
Business
In 2003, I founded Viscog Productions, Inc., a company that produces and sells DVD presentation tools. DVDs from Viscog Productions provide menu-driven access to videos and demonstrations that can be used to induce failures of visual awareness in audiences. They include materials from my own lab as well as some licensed from other researchers. The DVDs are heavily discounted for full-time teachers and for small charities.
Speaking
In addition to my academic conference presentations and colloquia for psychology departments, I regularly give keynote addresses and conduct workshops for businesses and trade organizations. I am exclusively represented by Tom Neilssen of the BrightSight Group for such speaking engagements. You can learn more on the speaking page of this website.
Other websites
Learn more about my academic and non-academic interests.
Other sources of information about me
Several other sites have information about me.
image of gorilla with shadow