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At the time of her residence in the OSU Libraries Special Collections, Julia Bursten was a doctoral candidate in the History and Philosophy of Science program at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to her arrival in Pittsburgh, Bursten obtained a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Rice University, where her thesis was entitled "Selecting a Structure of Scientific Communication."
In 2008 she received departmental honors from the Rice Department of Philosophy. That same year, she was an invited speaker at the West Virginia University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. In 2009, she was the University of Pittsburgh Arts and Science Graduate Research Expo Panel winner and, in 2010, a nominee for the Elizabeth Baranger Graduate Teaching Award.