Department of

History and Philosophy of Science

Catherine Stinson

Catherine Stinson

Catherine Stinson

Department of History and Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh
1017 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Research Interests

Philosophy of Psychology and Neuroscience:

  • Executive attention and cognitive control
  • Localization of function with fMRI
  • Computational modeling
  • Mechanistic explanation
  • Reduction and emergence

History of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Medicine:

  • Golgi's reticular theory and the neuron doctrine
  • Foundations of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience
  • Disciplinary divisions between physiology and anatomy
  • William Harvey and the advent of mechanical philosophy


University of Pittsburgh

  • PhD student, Fall 2005 - present
    History and Philosophy of Science
    Advisors: Peter Machamer, Kenneth Schaffner
  • Graduate Training Program
    Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition

University of Toronto

  • MSc, 2002
    Computer Science
  • Thesis: "Adaptive Information Filtering with Labeled and Unlabeled Data"
    Developed a Bayesian classification algorithm for on-line (continuous) filtering of semi-labeled documents using Expectation Maximization. Established that existing algorithms introduced a selection bias and developed strategies that improved classification performance by eliminating this selection bias.
  • BSc, 1999
    Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence

Fellowships & Awards

  • IACAP Best Student Paper Award, Epistemology of Modeling and Simulation Conference, 2011
  • Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 2010
  • Wesley Salmon Fund Travel Grant, 2009
  • Arts & Science Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2005, 2007, 2009
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology, 1999
  • University College Honour Award, University of Toronto, 1999
  • Graduating Athlete of the Year, University College, University of Toronto, 1999
  • James and Connie Dickson Scholarship in Mathematics and Science, University of Toronto, 1998
  • Howard Ferguson Provincial Scholarship, University of Toronto, 1994, 1996, 1997



  • "The Role of Computational Models in Cognitive Neuroscience" presentation, Epistemology of Modeling and Simulation National Conference, Pittsburgh 2011
  • "Computational Models as Experimental Systems" presentation, Max Planck Institute for History of Science pre-doctoral fellow discussion seminar, Berlin 2010
  • "Aristotle's Argument Against Functionalism" presentation, International Society for History of Philosophy of Science conference, Budapest 2010 (with Boris Hennig)
  • "The Explanatory Role of Computational Models in Cognitive Neuroscience" poster presentation, 13th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Berlin 2009
  • "The Explanatory Role of Computational Models in Cognitive Neuroscience" presentation, 7th European Conference on Computing and Philosophy, Barcelona 2009
  • "Searching for The Source of Executive Attention" presentation of shortlisted essays, ESF 'Consciousness in a Natural and Cultural Context Essay' Competition for Junior Scholars, Edinburgh 2008
  • "Locating Executive Attention in the ACC: Explanation and Levels of Description" poster, Philosophy of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology graduate and post-doctoral conference, Edinburgh 2008
  • "Attention, Volition, and the Ghost in the Machine" presentation, 15th annual meeting of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Geneva 2007
  • "How Are You People Going to Have Fun if None of You People Ever Participate?" presentation, National Communication Association 91st annual convention, Boston 2005
  • "On-line Learning from Labeled and Unlabeled Data" poster presentation, Neural Information Processing Sytems conference: workshop on Machine Learning Methods for Text and Images, Vancouver 2001


  • International Society for History of Philosophy of Science
  • Cognitive Neuroscience Society
  • European Society for Philosophy and Psychology
  • Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour

Professional Service

  • Annual Lecture Series Organizing Committee, Center for Philosophy of Science, 2009
  • HPS Rep, Arts & Sciences Graduate Student Organization, University of Pittsburgh, 2007-2009
  • Referee, University of Pittsburgh/CMU Graduate Philosophy Conference, 2007, 2009
  • Co-organizer and webmaster, University of Pittsburgh/CMU Graduate Philosophy Conference, 2006

Teaching Experience

University of Pittsburgh, History and Philosophy of Science

  • Causal Reasoning, Spring 2009, Teaching Fellow
  • Principles of Scientific Reasoning, Fall 2008, Teaching Fellow
  • Mind and Medicine, Spring 2007, TA for Edouard Machery
  • The Nature of the Emotions, Fall 2006, TA for James Lennox

University of Toronto, Computer Science

  • Web Programming, Fall 2001, Fall 2002, TA
  • Computer Organization, Fall 2000, Spring 2002, TA
  • Discrete Math for Computer Science, Fall 1998, Fall 1999, Summer 2000, TA
  • Intro to Artificial Intelligence, Spring 1999, Spring 2000, TA
  • Programming Languages, Summer 1999, TA
  • Intro to Computer Science, Fall 1997, TA


fluent French
intermediate German
increasingly poor Spanish

Scientific Research

University of Toronto, AI Lab, Winter 2003
Research Programmer, Machine Learning Group
Applied Bayesian information filtering algorithms developed in my MSc to letter-recognition and webpage classification datasets.

University of Toronto, AI Lab, 1998 - 99
Student Programmer, Computational Vision Group
Developed algorithms for the hand gesture recognition module of a teleconferencing robot.

National Research Council, Canada, Summer 1998
Student Researcher, Institute of Aerospace Research
Developed an artificial neural network program to evaluate airplane wing designs.

Other Work Experience

Openflows Networks, Mar 2003 - August 2005
Managed MySQL databases, wrote Perl and PHP code, and performed general system administration for media companies, cultural groups and non-profit organizations. Customized slashcode, drupal, and bricolage Content Management Systems for various clients, and built a custom CMS and production utility (Rundown).

Deadpan Designs, Jan 2002 - present
Web Developer
Built a basic CMS, and customized it to fit the needs of various clients. Added back-end database systems to pre-existing websites. Wrote bits of code for image and video uploads, registration forms, and various other tools. Manage web and e-mail hosting, and respond to technical support requests.

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