XRts Immersive Media Fellowship

XRts Immersive Media Fellowship

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Supporting diverse artists, technologists and designers to drive social change through immersive experiences

The XRts Immersive Media Fellowship aims to facilitate and help disseminate work by artists whose experiences are commensurate with the challenges that face BIPOC students, early career artists and entrepreneurs in emerging media and extended reality (XR). The fellowship is co-run by the Herberger Institute and ASU Gammage and supported by the New American Council for Arts and Design.

Vision and goals

BIPOC Artist career development

Creating highly visible and well-supported opportunities for both emerging BIPOC artists in XR and established BIPOC artists in other areas exploring a new medium.

Fusion of process and product

Finding balance between an experience that produces successful final work product and is also instrumental to growth in the artists’ practice.

National distinction and impact

Maximizing ASU Gammage and the Herberger Institute’s incredible web of resources and assets to create a program unequaled elsewhere.

Partnership development

Leveraging the program’s visibility and network expansion to drive long-term partner development for sustainability.

The fellowship

The XRts Immersive Media Fellowship facilitates work on projects by emerging diverse creators in the field of extended reality or emerging media who seek to deepen their work with an expanded pool of resources and student and expert faculty assistance and by established creators in another form or medium seeking to develop work in emerging media/extended reality forms with expert guidance and student assistance. Our current cohort of fellows has a focus in the area of performing arts and other forms of integrating live performance into XR forms.

Ongoing projects by fellows are supported through:

  • A $35,000–70,000 stipend (determined based on scale of project and time spent in residency) and support for housing and travel. It is not expected the fellowship constitute all or even a majority of the fellow's professional activity for the year.
  • $25,000–50,000 project support fund.
  • Access to resources across three physical locations:
    • Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center in Mesa, Arizona, with soundstages, screening theaters, enhanced immersion studio, motion/volumetric capture, virtual production, computing labs, recording studios, prototyping/fabrication labs and more.
    • ASU California Center, home of the Narrative and Emerging Media program, with virtual production volume, computing labs, event space and more.
    • ASU Tempe Campus with the Immersive Creation Studio, ASU Cultural Affairs/ASU Gammage, Dreamscape development pods, fabrication labs, motion capture and more.
  • Support from a team of graduate and upper division undergraduate students.
  • Faculty consultations in almost any field and discipline.
  • Access to the vast research advancement resources at ASU, including resources for grantwriting and technology transfer.
  • A communications and public awareness campaign.
  • Network development assistance, especially in terms of growing connections with producers, presenters, funders and venues across the country and world for further dissemination and distribution of the work.
  • A produced final showcase or pilot with press and a website.

All individuals are able to apply and participate in our programs and events without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Application guidelines and process

Application components

Applicants must submit:

  • A letter of intent describing their proposed activities for the fellowship period and the potential impact of those activities.
  • A résumé/CV.
  • A portfolio of work, submitted either as the URL of an online portfolio/website or a PDF of work samples.

Application criteria

Qualified applicants will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Potential for national/international distinction: Both the long-term sustainability of this program and the advancement of the careers of the creators rely on the work emerging from this program gaining recognition in the larger world.
  • Impact on the artist: Fellowships are meant to be developmental, and it is critical that this experience advance the careers and artistic practice of these creators, so each application will be evaluated on this basis.
  • Social impact: Though providing opportunities for diverse creators who do not have to focus on social impact is a critical need, this is also a time of dire need for the impact of thoughtful, justice-minded creators in all modes. It is also critical to note that “social impact,” in this context, can take on a wide variety of meanings, but the program is particularly interested in arts- and design-based methodologies for influencing policy frameworks.
  • Integration of ASU community: Everything we do at ASU Gammage and in the Herberger Institute should be of benefit to our community in some manner, and the chance for our students, faculty and community members to connect with these creators is of value to both parties.
  • Feasibility: Each application will be evaluated by expert faculty and staff on its feasibility given the available resources and proposed time frame.

Selection process and timeline

Two to four fellows will be selected each spring for a fellowship period of one year via the following process:

  • Application submissions received by May 30 will be given priority review, but applications will continue to be accepted and reviewed on a weekly basis thereafter. Applications reviewed by faculty advisory panel.
  • Interviews of selected finalists will be conducted: June 20–July 1.
  • Fellowship period begins on August 19, 2022 and ends on August 19, 2023.
  • Fellows are expected to attend the first cohort meeting in Los Angeles from August 29–31, 2022.

All individuals are able to apply and participate in our programs and events without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Current fellows

Martha Mendizabal

Martha Mendizabal

Martha Mendizabal, JD, is an advocate for an XR media landscape that is diverse and representative of our society. Mendizabal's work synthesizes her experience in diverse fields — the legal profession, finance and emerging technology — to spearhead high visibility initiatives and projects that help shape the access, equity and inclusion to XR knowledge, equipment and content creation across diverse communities. While working as an institutional equity sales trader in Wall Street, she leveraged her analytical capabilities to uncover emerging opportunities, forecasting changing market conditions and developing effective action plans. During this time she saw the future societal and economic implications of XR tools and emerging technology on the national and international scale. Utilizing personal funds, she co-launched the nonprofit TecnoLatinx with the mission to foster economic empowerment through early exposure to XR tools and emerging technology. She approaches her work in XR with a clear mission to educate and inspire a community of explorers and creators leveraging the latest XR tools in VR/AR/virtual production and computer-based fabrication. Over the past five years her work intersects storytelling, XR education/exposure and social justice. Supported by ASU’s XRts Immersive Media Fellowship, Mendizabal's grassroots work is based out of the ASU California Center, located in downtown Los Angeles and home of the Narrative and Emerging Media program. As an XRts fellow she also has access to the state-of-the-art facilities at ASU’s Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center, in Mesa Arizona, where her team has traveled to learn, be inspired and share their work with local high school students, community artists and ASU’s technologists. Mendizabal's XRts fellow project will culminate in a location-based event that will inspire creativity and critical thinking and result in project-based learning that leverages spatial computing and 3D real-time game engines, uniquely blending education and recreation while also connecting local underserved communities to the creative industries in Los Angeles and at the MIX Center.  Prior to delving into the world of XR and emerging technology, Mendizabal received her BA in Latin American Studies from UCLA and her Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings School of Law. She also traded derivatives at the world’s largest broker-dealer, ICAP, Ltd. She has worked to bring awareness of technology and technology equipment to underserved communities in the United States and Latin America since her college days, when she volunteered to refurbish donated PCs. 

Sultan Sharrief

Sultan Sharrief

Sultan Sharrief is a trans-media activist, filmmaker and XR designer. He holds a BA in Film from University of Michigan, an MS in Comparative Media from MIT, and is a PhD candidate in Media Arts & Practice at USC. His directorial debut feature film, "Bilal’s Stand," premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and he has since produced four additional feature films and a TV program. His youth media program Street Cred was a four-year sponsored project with Allied Media Projects in Detroit. In 2018 he founded the Quasar Lab at MIT, an institutional-hacking research lab that uses disruptive community organizing as a strategy for futurist design. Through the XRts Fellowship, Sultan intends to expand the Quasar Lab by developing an XR storytelling platform through which the lab’s component projects will be implemented. These projects include "Nsesa,The Balance,'' which tells the story of the birth of the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana; “SCi*52,” an interactive documentary covering seven years of community organizing in Detroit; “Al Ma’un The Mobile Mosque,” which covers community organizing with the L.A. unhoused community during Covid; and "Black (W)hole," an interactive augmented reality data visualization musical which takes place inside his DNA.

Sian Proctor

Sian Proctor

Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist and astronaut. She is the CEO of Space2inspire and founder of The Proctor Foundation for Art and Science and The J.E.D.I. Space Foundation. She was the mission pilot for SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian orbital mission. She is the first African American woman to pilot a spacecraft, the first African American commercial astronaut and the first African American to paint in space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a JEDI Space: a just, equitable, diverse and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight. She uses her Afrofuturism space art to encourage conversations about women of color in the space industry. She’s also an analog astronaut and has completed four analog missions, including the all-female SENSORIA Mars 2020 mission at the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Habitat, the NASA funded four-month Mars mission at HI-SEAS, a two-week Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), and a two-week Moon mission in the LunAres Habitat. She believes that when we solve for space, we also solve issues on Earth, and she promotes the adoption of space technology to issues such as food waste and climate change. She has a TEDx talk called Eat Like a Martian and published the Meals for Mars Cookbook. Proctor was a finalist for the 2009 NASA Astronaut Program and got down to the yes/no phone call, which came from astronaut Sunita Williams. She is an international speaker who enjoys engaging in educational outreach. She is a continuing NASA Solar System Ambassador and serves on the Explore Mars Board of Directors and Voyager Space Holdings Advisory Board. She is also the vice president of education at Star Harbor, a startup space flight training academy. In 2019, she was the science communication outreach officer on the JOIDES Resolution Expedition 383 and spent two months at sea with researchers investigating the dynamics of the Antarctic circumpolar current. She also participated in the two-week faculty development seminar Exploring Urban Sustainability in India. She was a 2017 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Teacher at Sea, a 2016 Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador (ACEAP) and a 2014 PolarTRECTeacher investigating climate change in Barrow, Alaska. She is a Major in the Civil Air Patrol and serves as a member of the Arizona Wing Aerospace Education Officer. Proctor has been a geoscience professor for over 20 years, teaching geology, sustainability and planetary science at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently the Astronaut in Residence for the Maricopa Community Colleges. She has a BS in Environmental Science, an MS in Geology and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education. She did her 2019-20 sabbatical at Arizona State University’s Center for Education Through Exploration creating virtual field trips. She did her 2012-13 sabbatical at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute developing their science of disasters curriculum. She has appeared in multiple international science shows and is currently on A World Without NASA and Strange Evidence. Proctor is an XRts Immersive Media Fellow at ASU's Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center in Mesa, Arizona. Her fellowship project is creating an immersive virtual reality experience around her trip to space and experiencing the Overview Effect. The intended final product will consist of a virtual spaceship set in the near future and presents a utopian look at a future Earth worth striving for. There is also an additional component of an immersive live performance encompassing both augmented and virtual reality. It is narrated by Proctor with music score by Mary Liz “Annu” Bender. The main goal of this project is to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to experience this connection to our planet — “The future of humanity depends on it.”

ASU advisory panel

Nonny de la Pena
Progrm Dir + Profr of Practice

Jacob Pinholster
Asc Dean + Ctr Dir & Asc Profr

Michael Reed
Dir of Prgms and Org Initiatives

Lauren Ruffin
National Field Leader in Residence