Ph.D. Candidates

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Biayna Bogosian

Biayna Bogosian is an architect and interactive media designer focusing on creating digital and physical media experiences that incorporate environmental data in order to change the way we perceive and construct our cities.

Biayna is currently pursuing a PhD in Media Arts + Practice in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University (2010) and a Bachelor of Architecture from Woodbury University (2008). Since 2011, Biayna has taught architecture, computational design, digital fabrication and interactive media courses at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, USC School of Architecture, Woodbury University School of Architecture, and Tongji University College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She has also conducted number of design workshops in Armenia, Hungary, Spain and China.

Biayna is a founding partner of Los Angeles based studio Somewhere Something ( which focuses on designing multi-scale urban interfaces.

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Brian Cantrell

Brian Cantrell is a media artist, researcher, and creative technologist who works in the areas of sonic interaction design, data visualization and sonification. His work is rooted in exploration at the intersections of science, art, and design. His broader research interests include soundscape, posthuman phenomenology, phenomenology of perception, and embodied interaction.

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Laura Cechanowicz

Laura Cechanowicz is a researcher, a collector, and a designer. She works across mediums, including animation, film and virtual reality, production design, and sound design. Thematically and formally she explores identity, neuroscience, embodiment, and the ways people record and transcribe personal histories. Her experience includes fieldwork in the US, China, Colombia, and throughout Europe. During her iMAP PhD, from 2014-2016 she worked extensively with Alex McDowell, learning world building through practice and as McDowell’s iMAP Teaching Assistant.

Laura received her MFA in Animation from the University of Southern California; her MA in Film Studies from the University of Iowa; her BA with honors from the University of Michigan majoring in Film & Video, Psychology and German; and she began her PhD in Media Arts and Practice at USC in 2013. Her activities during her PhD have included co-producing the website, directing two documentaries including an experimental narrative, production designing the feature film Caihong City and the short film "Perfect World," and sound designing the interactive game Miralab and Alex McDowell's 2014 Virtual Reality Leviathan Project. She is highly influenced not only by media and history, but also by neuroscience and psychology.

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Sarah Ciston

Sarah Ciston is a computational media artist and experimental writer of prose, poetry and Python. Her projects include an AI interface that reprograms the inner critic, an interactive poem of the quantified self, and a chatbot that explains feminism to online misogynists. Published in Ada Journal, ZYZZYVA, Hobart, etc., she holds an MFA in Hybrid Writing from UC San Diego, is a graduate of USC’s Resident Honors Program as a Trustee Scholar, and has been named one of San Francisco Weekly's "Best Writers Without a Book.”
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Rosemary Comella

Rosemary Comella is a new media artist with a background in photography, video and graphic design. Since 2000 she has been working as a researcher, project director, interface designer and programmer at the Labyrinth Project, developing interactive projects such as Tracing the Decay of Fiction: Encounters with a Film by Pat O'Neill and The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Current of the River. Rosemary also co-developed the interactive installations Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986, and Cultivating Pasadena: From Roses to Redevelopment, which was exhibited at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in 2005.

Rosemary is currently creative director for Jewish Homegrown History: Immigration, Identity and Intermarriage, a public on-line archive and museum installation that aims to illuminate one hundred and fifty years of Jewish history in California.

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Behnaz Farahi

Behnaz Farahi is an architect and interaction designer, exploring the potential of interactive systems and their relationship to the human body. In particular she is interested in the implementation of emerging technologies in contemporary art/architecture practice. Her goal is to enhance the relationship between human beings and the built environment by implementing design/motion principles inspired by natural systems. Application areas include architecture, fashion and interaction design. She also specializes in additive manufacturing and robotic technologies.

Her work has been exhibited internationally and has been featured in several magazines and online websites including WIRED, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Motherboard, Dezeen, Frame Magazine, the Creators Project and many more. Behnaz Farahi has won several awards. She is also the recipient of a Madworkshop Grant and a Rock Hudson Fellowship.

Currently she is an Annenberg Fellow and PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Media Arts and Practice at USC School of Cinematic Arts. She has also been an Artist in Residence at Autodesk, Pier 9. She has an undergraduate and two Master degrees in Architecture.

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Samantha Gorman

Samantha Gorman is the co-director of game studioTender Claws. She specializes in writing for interactive media across genres including expanded cinema, games and virtual reality.

Tender Claws’ first release PRY ( was one of Apple’s 25 best apps of 2015, a finalist for the Future of Storytelling Prize and a finalist in IGF for “Excellence in Narrative.”

Following PRY, Tender Claws has grown and released “Virtual, Virtual Reality” (VVR) which draws on her seven years of experience in developing Virtual Reality at Brown University’s CAVE VR studio. VVR won the 2017 Google Play Award for “Best VR Experience” and Unity Awards Finalist “Best VR Game” and “Best Mobile VR” at Raindance among others.

Tender Claws (now a group of 13) walks the line between art/experimentation and entertainment. Following this mission, their next game is a long-form AR experience in collaboration with Google AR/VR about a virtual pet Ai fish that feeds on people’s emotions to learn and grow (Oct. 2018). They will also release a VR game that combines immersive theater and live-actors with Oculus in 2019. In addition to running Tender Claws, Samantha is a Ph.D. student in Media Arts and Practice at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Annenberg fellow. She is based in LA.

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Catherine Griffiths

Catherine Griffiths is a designer working at the intersection of computation and cinema. She is the principal at ISOHALE, a design studio based in Los Angeles working with new technologies and creative code to develop cinematic visualizations of scientific data and environmental processes. Her new cinematic practice addresses computation as a core language and technology of our time. Previously, she has worked for architecture and engineering firms on design visualization and pilot studies for coastal and marine technology projects. She was invited to present her research at the Institute of Oceanology, in Qingdao, China. In 2015, her design solution was a runner up in the USGS/Blue Legacy Visualizing Nutrients competition. She has a bachelor's degree in Fine Art from the University of the Arts London, a master’s degree in Architecture from The Bartlett, University College London, and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles.
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Hao Gu

Hao Gu is a filmmaker and media scholar interested in transmedia storytelling, cinematic narrative and the media industry. He is interested in exploring new intersections between conventional narrative forms and interactive or playable media.
Hao completed his MA in Broadcast and Television from Beijing Normal University. He has been working in film production since 2007; his work includes documentary, animation and full-length feature films.
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Juri Hwang

Juri Hwang is a sound and media artist. Her research focuses on questions of sound and the role of media in the formation of memory and mental images. Engaging in an analysis of the cultural shifts of media usage and technologies she investigates the relationship between means of representation and how we perceive and remember. Through the analysis of still images, moving images, stereoscopic 3D images and sound, her work develops a sensitivity toward the artifacts that media introduce into our perceptual relationship to our environment.
Juri has a BA in English and Communication from Hanguk University of Foreign Studies and an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California. She has been involved in several projects that explore narrative forms across a range of media platforms such as film, sound and interactive media. Her work includes the award winning project “Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles: 1920-1986”, “Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein in California” and “Venture to the Interior.” Her work has been shown in the United States, Germany, France and Korea. Juri's current projects comprise “Somatic Echo,” an immersive sonic experience exploring bone conducted sound, and she is investigating hearing and auditory brain stem implants and the power of sound for cognitive health.
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Kumi Iman

Kumi Iman creates forms of digital media that exist as ways of bearing witness and "being with" others. She is deeply affected by black feminist and women of color writers, makers and thinkers engaging issues of identity, difference, and relationality, including Trinh T. Minh-ha, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Kumi's work endeavors to open up creative critical space to imagine and practice ethical ways of being with others in the world.
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Noa Kaplan

Noa P. Kaplan is an artist, researcher, and educator based in Los Angeles. She analyzes and reconstructs overlooked, disappearing, and forgotten collections. Through virtual simulations, physical artifacts, and environments, she invites viewers to inhabit these collections, often at unfamiliar orders of magnitude. Noa has exhibited recent work at Siggraph, Ars Electronica, CODAME, Femmebit, and the Hammer Museum. She has participated in residencies and fellowships at IDEO, Autodesk, Electric Objects, and Eyeo and her work has been featured in Business Insider, Wired Magazine, Discovery VR, and the Huffington Post. Noa has taught as a Lecturer in the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA since 2012 and is currently an Annenberg Fellow in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC.
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Fidelia Lam

Fidelia Lam is an experimental media designer, artist and researcher exploring themes of persona, performativity, opacity and embodiment. In particular, she is interested in the intersection of space, movement and everyday performance, and the influence of transient spaces on the daily performance and perception of identity. Her practice utilizes interactive live performance and installation works to engage and invite participants to reflect on their role and experience within an environment. Fidelia holds an MA in Media Arts from the University of Michigan and a BMus from the University of British Columbia with a double Major in Piano and English Literature, and a Minor in Applied Music Technology.
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Triton Mobley

Triton Mobley is a new media artist, educator, and scholar. His new media installations have been exhibited at Art Basel Miami, Art Miami, and he has staged guerilla art interventions in Boston, New York, Providence, and across Japan. He holds an MFA in Digital+Media from the Rhode Island School of Design. His doctoral research and practice studies the socio-economic disparities of emergent technologies faced by marginalized communities as a result of the digital delay. His most recent artworks, the diptych Coded #000000 and Volumetric Black, uncover the literal en/coding of anti-blackness into digital image-making technologies. This research has been presented at the African American History, Culture & Digital Humanities’ Intentionally Digital, Intentionally Black conference in Maryland, as well as the Art Machines: International Symposium on Computational Media Art at City University of Hong Kong.
Triton has championed new media education for more than 15 years, working at the frontier of the technological modernization of secondary and tertiary education. His belief is that new media education is a discipline that offers a wonderful confluence of opportunities merging artistic and practical technology-based solutions, allowing his graduates to be intellectually active listeners, rigorously questioning conventionality wherever it may exist in their daily lives. In 2005, Miami-Dade County Public School named him Rookie Educator of the Year. In 2006, he worked with RISD’s Teaching + Learning in Arts + Design program to create the Digital Project Open Door, a new media art after school program.
In 2011, Triton designed and implemented the first new media arts curriculum at Friends Seminary in New York, and in 2012 he was invited to redesign RISD’s Summer Graphic Design program. Triton was awarded a S.T.E.A.M in education grant by Friends Seminary to conduct research at the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan in 2014. Most recently, Triton joined the animation team at California State Summer School for the Arts in the summer of 2018 to collaborate on expanding their new media curriculum.
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Ron Morrison

Ron Morrison [Elegant Collisions] is an interdisciplinary designer, artist, and researcher working across the fields of human geography, digital technology, and urbanism. Their practice works to investigate the generative ways in which the unassimilable refigures, complicates, and dissolves our understandings of race + geographic space as fixed and knowable. Focusing on boundaries, subjectivity, and protection I look for the ways that fissures and inconsistencies can allow for emergent moments to practice new spatial relationships and epistemologies. From these seemingly dissonant spaces we learn to rework and retune systems towards an increased potential for collaboration and action, from the quotidian to the phenomenological. With a strong background in community development and social advocacy, they believe that people should have full access to shaping their cities and communities and see design as a medium for creating knowledge and moving beyond paralysis in the face of complexity. From building open source platforms to upend the continued practice of solitary confinement to crafting community based archives to combat gentrification, their work investigates cartographies of slow violence, cybernetics, unassimilable data, and blackness.
They have been a collaborator with design teams that implemented projects in New Orleans, Ghana, Colombia, Ethiopia, New York, and Venice and have had work featured in AIA New York, the UN World Urban Forum, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Ron holds degrees in Psychology and Gender Studies, as well as a graduate degree in Design and Urban Ecologies from Parsons School of Design. They are currently an Annenburg PhD Fellow in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC in Los Angeles.
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Lisa Müller-Trede

Lisa Müller-Trede is a filmmaker and performance artist interested in the performative dimension of virtuality and the virtual in the live event. Her work focuses on the body in its live, recorded and augmented state. Often combining various media in live film shoots or performative exhibitions, she explores the body's physical limits. This is a core catalyst for her engagement with the body, the camera, the means of the editing room and devices and software allowing for augmented reality. In a recent long-term research project, she juxtaposed physical and cinematographic techniques of cutting to develop a cross-media performative practice.
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Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson is a writer, musician, performer, and businessman. Originally from New Hampshire, he grew up raising goats and accessing the broader world through AOL’s dial-up service. He holds undergraduate degrees in Electronic Writing and Electronic Music + Multimedia from Brown University, as well as an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of Chicago. He has also worked in Silicon Valley business development and international consulting. Ben develops interactive, performance-driven works that resemble open business ventures. His latest works are an outgrowth of his sole proprietorship, disIncorporated. His practice and research interests include: the corporation as a prevailing model for subject formation, sympoietic death as an alternative to liberal humanist life, and performance as a prefigurative praxis. He is particularly fascinated by corpses and potatoes.
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Nonny de la Pena

Nonny de la Peña was selected by Wired Magazine as a #MakeTechHuman Agent of Change and Fast Company named her “One of the People Who Made the World More Creative.” for her work in immersive storytelling. As a founder of Emblematic Group, she uses cutting edge technologies to tell important stories—both fictional and news-based—that create intense, empathic engagement on the part of viewers. Her company is also designing the platform of the future, one that is uniquely native to virtual reality.
A Yale Poynter Media Fellow and a former correspondent for Newsweek, de la Peña has more than 20 years of award-winning experience in print, film and TV. De la Peña is widely credited with helping create the genre of immersive journalism and her virtual reality work has been featured by the New York Times, BBC, Mashable, Vice, Wired and many others. Showcases around the globe include the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, The World Economic Forum in Davos, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, MOMA, and Games For Change.
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Szilvia Ruszev

Szilvia Ruszev is film editor, visual artist and scholar. Her professional work represents a comprehensive approach to independent filmmaking, with more than 30 films in many different formats to her credit. Her own artistic work relates to very personal moments, certain states of emotional solitude in relation to the Other, both in its particular and abstract notion. Her practice based research project on visualizing editing is seeking for non verbal ways to aquire sensual knowledge about montage.
Szilvia studied Hungarian and Bulgarian Literature and Linguistics and Filmtheorie at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest/Hungary) and completed Diploma at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, where she worked as faculty member in the last six years. She worked with internationally acclaimed directors such as Peter Greenaway, Anders Østergaard and János Szász and for the short film Wagah she got the Film+ Award for best Film Editing.
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Clea Waite

Clea von Chamier-Waite is an intermedia artist, scholar, and experimental filmmaker whose artworks investigate the artifacts, materiality, and poetics that emerge at the intersection of art and science. She creates somatic, cinematic works that engage with climate change, astronomy, particle physics, and popular culture via immersion and sensual interfaces – as well as one inter-species collaboration with several hundred tropical spiders. Clea combines a background in physics and computer graphics with cinema, media art, and critical theory, bringing a unique blend of expertise to her projects from which cross-disciplinary synergies emerge. Her research examines the interaction of subject with the proprioception and memory within the architectural structure of an immersive cine-installation. Clea’s concrete practice combining art, science, and technology serves to both discover new correspondences and to develop the appropriate forms to convey them, inventing cinematic mechanisms in service of a new visual language.
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Emilia Yang

Emilia Yang is an activist, artist, and militant researcher. Her work has been interconnected with digital communications, performance, and public art. Her research focuses on participatory culture and its relationship to media, arts, and design. She is interested in how transmedia storytelling and postcolonial new media practices can foster social change and civic engagement. Her art practice utilizes site-specific interactive installations, documentaries, fictions, performance, and urban interventions to engage participants in political action and discussion.
Emilia completed an M.A in Communications at Penn State University. Her Masters project researched and archived the first social media protest to make it to the streets in her home country Nicaragua. Her work is published in the book Sites of Protest, part of the series ‘Protest, Media and Culture' published by MeCCSA Social Movements Network edited by Rowman and Littlefield. She is one of the creators of Downtown Browns an interactive series winner of the first prize at the "Diversity Challenge" organized by Games for Change, Interlude and Tribeca Film Festival. She is a HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) 2015-2016 scholar and member of the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project.
Twitter: @rojapordentro