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What We're Working On

Current Projects

The Ultimate Modeling Problem: The Pancreatic Beta Cell Project

A short film about a team of scientists collaborating to create a computational model of a cell

The assembly of whole-cell models spanning atomic to cellular resolutions is one of the grand challenges of the 21st century, and will require the convergence of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, and the digital arts. This video highlights a team of scientists working to change the way we approach biological research and drug design.

Microscopy in Virtual Reality

Explore microscopy images from a shrunken perspective in virtual reality

BASA has teamed up with microscopists from the Translational Imaging Center, virtual reality developers from the School of Cinematic Arts, programmers from the School of Engineering, and life scientists from the Bridge Institute to create an application that will allow microscopists to upload their 3D images to a virtual reality headset with a few clicks of a mouse.

Artists in Residence

Connecting media makers and scientists in collaboration with the Bridge UnderGraduate Science summer program

The BASA summer artists in residency program provides an opportunity for students in the USC School of Cinematic Arts to join scientists from the Bridge Institute to collaboratively create two films communicating research at the Bridge.

Why I Became

Short documentaries about women working in science

BASA and WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) team up under the lead of Megan Simon to create short videos showcasing women scientists and engineers who tell stories about how they chose careers in their field. The short documentaries will be widely distributed using social media to reach young women in hopes of inspiring aspirations for pursuing a career in science and engineering.

The Cell & The City

Interactive explorations inside a human cell

The Cell & The City is a fully experiential virtual world inside a single human cell, presented using metaphors of the complex systems of a city. We use storytelling and world building to present scientific detail in ways that are engaging and approachable for both laymen and experts. By creating a virtual cell as a city, we allow people to explore a rich biochemical world while engaging concepts, pathways, and implications through narrative, all backed by scientific rigor. The Cell & The City project brings together a broadly interdisciplinary team of scientists, storytellers, artists, programmers, and conceptual thinkers, all with a proven track record of creating the next wave of content and experiences. Our long-term goal is to create a rich and diverse world that scales from the atomic-level, to cellular-level, to organ-level, all the way to the human body-level. Immersive media like virtual reality provide a unique portal into systems both large and small, and when combined with narrative elements based on scientific rigor, promises to enable a new generation of education, research, and collaboration.

The Heroes of Disease

Paintings that depict stem cells as saviors in pop art style

Pop art is synonymous with comics and super heroes. The Heroes of Disease uses this style of art to depict stem cells as our current heroes against disease. The project showcases 6 developmental stages of stem cells through paintings on large (48x48”) canvases. The colors are bold, vibrant and evoke ideals of invincibility.


Conserving Cultures

Documenting the global conservation of humanity’s microbial heritage

A photojournalism campaign documenting the Global Microbiome Conservancy’s

efforts to create a long-term vault of microorganisms reflecting the full diversity of

human gut bacterial communities, including rare and disappearing strains found

only in traditional, non-industrialized societies. These microbes represent a living

legacy of shared evolutionary history and cultural heritage. Together, communities

around the world are working with scientists in a race to safeguard against future

bacterial extinctions caused by rapidly changing lifestyles. This project will illustrate

the process and promise of groundbreaking research, while raising awareness of the

threats of industrialization and urbanization to biodiversity, health and the

environments of human populations worldwide.


The story of a recent spinal cord injury patient struggling to reconcile his sense of self-worth with his new reality as a paraplegic.

The film “Asia A”, focuses on the perspective of an individual faced with a life altering disability. The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) developed a system of tests used to define and describe the severity of a patient’s spinal cord injury to help determine future rehabilitation and recovery needs. The patient’s grade is based on how much sensation he or she can feel at multiple points on the body. Asia A is the story of Marquise, an African American college basketball athlete and recent spinal cord injury patient struggling to reconcile his sense of self-worth with his new reality as a paraplegic.


A documentary/animation hybrid that focuses on bioethics, recovery, and hope in the midst of America’s Opioid Epidemic. Danny is the story of a young man’s quest to overcome his substance abuse disorder using the controversial miracle drug known as Vivitrol. The film will follow Danny’s journey through recovery. It will utilize animation for re-enactments of his past and as representations for the internal cellular processes of addiction.

Aqua Power

Aquaponics educational series

Working with the USC Wrigley Institute | Wrigley Marine Science Center, Maryyann Landlord and Ann Lee created an educational animated series called AquaPower. AquaPower teaches the importance and benefits of aquaponics. The episode above is 1 in 5 episodes to serve as supplemental material for the Food for Thought Aquaponics program. This program provides K-12 classrooms with tools for integrated environmental and STEM education. The team worked closely with many faculty and students including Freya Yeh, who designed much of the color palette and characters.


A virtual reality experience inside Grand Staircase-Escalante, Former National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante was declared a National Monument in 1996 for its scientific value: it

is home to an incredible wealth of paleontological and archaeological sites, including tens of

thousands of fossils and dozens of American Indian sites of cultural significance. This unique,

unassuming patch of southern Utah is a priceless piece of American heritage, but it’s currently

under threat. Recently, its status as a Monument was revoked, opening opportunities for open-

pit coal mining and large-scale oil drilling within its borders. Redacted will take Americans inside Grand Staircase Escalante -- their own public land -- to demonstrate what’s really at stake in this debate over the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Interactive Pain and VR Anthology

The Interactive Pain and VR Anthology will use Scalar to serve as an online resource for researchers, clinicians, and patients to learn about pain and virtual reality (VR). It is motivated by calls to reframe our understanding of pain management as a fundamental human right [1]. Furthermore, a recent uptick in accessibility of mixed-realities hardwares suggests VR can be of value to a variety of disciplines. The hope is that pain of all kinds – even more invisible psychological stresses – can be treated with virtual reality such that dependence on drugs with unsavory side-effects could be reduced. The goal of the Interactive Pain and VR Anthology is to curate relevant material (art, presentations, research, publications) that chart a future where VR becomes a crucial element of pain management. Given that this is a timely intersection of revolutionary and accessible hardware and new strategies for pain management, we believe this anthology will function best as a living document. As such, we will keep an eye out for modularity so that it can be iterated and added to in an efficient manner.


Drawing from a phone call recorded by Danielle Hernendez to her mother, Violet, following an

updated prognosis on her breast cancer treatment, Dani combines non-fiction narrative with the

tactile experience of stop-motion animation.  The project seeks to illustrate the tenacious bonds

between everyday life and science, and the human networks that support us.

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Past Projects

Tiniest Tremor

A Documentary VR experience about women's health and neonatal abstinence.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, every 25 minutes a baby is born suffering from Opioid Withdrawal known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Mothers suffering from substance abuse disorder who give birth to these infants are often among the most stigmatized. Tiniest Tremor is the story of one of those births etched from the words of a mother, Cassie. Cassie’s journey from grief to solace is brought to life in the VR format—evoking rich traditions of documentary animation to convey Cassie’s experience in iconographic and poetic images and landscapes. Tiniest Tremor provides a humanistic lens on the public health crisis of Neonatal Abstinence.

Animating Scientific Discoveries

Short animations that communicate research discoveries happening at USC

Collaboration with USC Stem Cell Institute to connect animators with research professors to create short videos that communicate groundbreaking discoveries.

Opale - Interactive Wearables

3D printed clothing that reacts to your environment

Imagine if your clothes became an extension of your skin able to respond to the environment around you. Behnaz Farahi, an architect and interaction designer at the University of Southern California has created a 3D-printed emotive garment which can recognize and respond to facial expressions.

The Healing Process Annual Publication

The Healing Process is a bi-annual magazine that explores health and well-being through art and literature. The magazine is produced by a team of interdisciplinary USC students from across Keck School of Medicine, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, and Viterbi School of Engineering. BASIS proudly provided support for the publication of their 2017 magazine.

Next Generation Learning

Interactive e-learning modules

BASA was proud to work with The Opportunity Education Foundation to create two interactive e-learning modules to help new high school and undergraduate students in the Bridge UnderGraduate Science research program both engage with and acclimate to academic research at the university level.

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