Merlin Student Scholar Fellow: Julianna Breit Rounding the Bend in 2023

Learn more about Julianna and the philosophical work she’ll be doing in & with the Helena community this year.

Merlin Student Scholar Fellow:

Rounding the Bend…

About Julianna

Currently in her second year as the Merlin Student Scholar Fellow, Julianna Breit is a senior at Carroll College, double-majoring in Biochemistry and Philosophy and minoring in Neuroscience. Initially, Julianna encountered philosophy as an innovative think-space between Pre-Med classrooms and STEM labs. Little did she anticipate it becoming her primary approach and disposition toward the world and its problem-solving dojos. By her upperclassman years, philosophical ideas permeated into more and more of her clinical aspirations and neuroscience proposals. And now, she hopes to utilize the wisdom of philosophy to inform clinical practices, particularly within the realm of psychiatry.

Her research interests include the phenomenology of emotion, trauma, and empathy. (Although, she is known to grapple in ethics arenas fairly frequently.) During the first semester of her 2021-2022 fellowship, Julianna wrote about the underpinnings and consequences of philosophical vs. psychological approaches to “The Good Life.” She was also a regular participant in our community philosophy activities. During her second and third semesters, she was involved in the philosophical critique and analysis of several of our philosophy in the community activities, designed and led philosophy workshops on grief and empathy, and headed up the first installment of our new “How Did We Get Here?” series program.

Julianna Breit

(Merlin Student Scholar Fellow, 2021-2023)


With the arrival of her fourth semester, she (and we) are excited to add yet another layer to her philosophical development by combining her previous research and public-facing work with the added focus of identifying where and how community passions intersect with philosophy and how, explicitly, to help draw the philosophical out of/from these intersections.  Her fellowship will involve some of the subtler “behind-the-scenes” philosophical moves important to public philosophy and philosophical thinking, culminating with a dynamic and integrative symposium on loss and legacy, which she will be facilitating.

In addition to her ongoing fellowship with us, Julianna has been the recipient of several prestigious awards and positions, including acceptance into the Exeter College Summer Programme.  As an ECSP participant, she researched the neuroscientific and philosophical foundation of sadness under the direction of Dr. Zoltan Sarnyai (MD, PhD, MS).  This past summer in Dublin, she collaborated with Ireland’s leading neurofeedback expert, Dr. Michael Keane (PhD) on a neuroscience project, researching the relationship between executive function and obesity in attempt to reduce the stigma of weight and mental health. She also participated in a grass-roots effort in 2019 to holistically eliminate disease and poverty in Ugandan communities by volunteering in HIV education, dental, nutrition, and women’s clinics.

A kind, bright, hard-working, and (as we have come to discover) delightfully funny and playful individual, Julianna is a remarkable human being and beloved member of the Merlin family.  When she’s not scribbling on a Carroll whiteboard, philosophizing with the Merlin crowd, volunteering in the community, or serving with social workers, Julianna can be found enjoying coffee (ideally in the most quirky of coffee shops), road-tripping around the US (and beyond), or trying to keep her balance on a snowboard. Her favorite pastimes are roaming the globe, writing postcards, savoring and critiquing new foods, and watching psychological thrillers.


Julianna’s 2021-2022 Fellowship Projects

Research & Writing

Philosophy Workshop: Grief

Philosophy Workshop: Empathy

How Did We Get Here?: Empathy


A kind, bright, hard-working, and (as we have come to discover) delightfully funny and playful individual, Julianna is a remarkable human being and beloved member of the Merlin family. It has been an absolute joy having her as our fellow & witnessing her philosophical maturation. — Marisa Diaz-Waian

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