School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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Marientina Gotsis, M.F.A.

Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts

Affiliated Divisions:

Interactive Media & Games Division
Media Arts + Practice Division

Work Phone: 213.740.3159

Gotsis has a broad background in arts, design, and engineering, with a special interest in interactive entertainment applications for health, happiness, and rehabilitation. She is co-founder and director of the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center (CMBHC), an organized research unit between the School of Cinematic Arts and the Keck School of Medicine. Gotsis named the CMBHC's lab "The Garden" (after the Garden of Epicurus) – an inclusive, cooperative-run research environment for students of any rank and discipline. CMBHC researchers design, develop, and evaluate educational and therapeutic interventions using entertainment media (films, videos, animation, analog and digital games, and virtual reality). Gotsis created and directs the first graduate degree in the world focused on Media Arts, Games & Health (the interdivisional MA in Cinematic Arts, est. 2015) and the Games & Health emphasis in the USC Games MFA in Interactive Media. She is also a Visiting Professor at the Laboratory of Primary Health Care, General Practice & Health Services at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki School of Medicine in Greece.

Gotsis and her teams have developed interactive experiences and products to help increase literacy and public awareness, change behavior, and improve assessment and treatment techniques with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Palix Foundation, Department of Education (DoE), The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), Department of Defense (DoD), Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), and the Shafallah Center for Special Needs Children. She is the inventor and executive producer of The Brain Architecture Game (est. 2009), a popular tabletop game about the science of early childhood played by thousands every day around the world. 

Gotsis founded and leads USC’s Games for Health Initiative since 2007, connecting health professionals with innovation in various forms of interactive media. Her award-winning students have received recognition in festivals and prizes from the Apps for Healthy Kids challenge sponsored by the Michelle Obama's Let’s Move Initiative, the GE Healthymagination Student Award, Games for Change, Indiecade, Alt.Ctrl.GDC, ACM SIGGRAPH, Serious Games Showcase and Challenge, Unity Unite Awards, Cornell Cup USA, Vilcek Foundation, the Conference of the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society, and more. Gotsis and CMBHC senior research fellow Maryalice Jordan-Marsh from the School of Social Work taught the first USC Games for Health course with sponsorship from Humana in 2009.

Gotsis has led and advised several intramural centers and institutes at USC. She was the co-director of the SensoriMotor Assessment and Rehabilitation Training in Virtual Reality Center (SMART-VR), founding faculty of the mHealth Collaboratory, former co-director of the Center for Interactive Media Technologies in Healthcare (CIMTH), and advisor to the Community Scholars Collaborative on Health Equity Solutions (CHES), the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS), the Institute for Integrative Health, and the Center for Technology Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP).

Gotsis has lectured about her research and practice at Apple and Karten Design, and presented, published and peer-reviewed research at ACM, IEEE, and HCI journals and conferences, as well as medical and public health outlets. She has been an invited think-tank participant at the White House, the Institute For The Future, and various NIH/NSF/EU-funded workshops. She has tackled a wide range of knowledge domains and disease topics that include developmental neuroscience, wellness, obesity, nutrition, mental health, vision health, exercise, autism, child injury prevention, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, upper limb rehabilitation, burn injury, diabetes, and palliative care. She is an Associate Editor of Frontiers in Virtual Reality | Medicine.

Formerly the Media Lab Manager for the USC Interactive Media & Games Division, Gotsis managed technology infrastructure, oversaw research development, and directed several IMD research projects funded by Intel, Nokia, and Amdocs in the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab headed by Scott Fisher. Prior to USC, Gotsis taught art, design, animation and computer programming at Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and Harold Washington College and served as a consultant to small businesses and foundations. She began her career managing a startup internet service provider (ISP) company and providing various creative and technical consulting services for local newspapers moving to digital production.

She has worked for production companies, (Quicksilver Associates, Simmonet Marketing) to design and develop materials for private companies, such as Accenture, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Young Presidents Organization, government organizations, such as the City of Santa Monica and Marin Country and not-for-profits, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She provided network engineering support for creative firms, such as Florian Architects, Common Knowledge Communications, and Bauhaus, and collaborated with educators at Tulane University, Great Northern Way Campus, and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Gotsis holds a BFA in Photography/Film/Interactive Media and an MFA in Electronic Visualization from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where she was a research assistant on large-scale computing efforts for networked virtual reality (VR) sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She studied twelve years of French language and literature and took a special interest in pre-Columbian art history. Gotsis is a lifelong learner with continuing education in statistics, program evaluation, mixed research methods, psychology, research ethics, palliative care, public health, and neuroscience.