Marisa Brandt studies and teaches courses on the cultural, political, and ethical issues raised by emerging technologies as a member of the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of STEM group at Lyman Briggs College within Michigan State University. Employing ethnography, media studies, and history, she began studying the use of virtual reality (VR) as an adjunct to the treatment of military post-traumatic stress disorder in 2007, and has been researching and writing about mental health applications of digital technology ever since.
Her publications related to this research include work comparing the design logics of different VR exposure therapy systems (Media Futures, 2013); the politics of care in the treatment of military trauma (Catalyst, 2016), public responses to innovations in psychiatric technology, with philosophers Laura Cabrera and Robyn Bluhm (Social Science & Medicine, 2018); a roadmap for the study of digital interventions in mental health, with media scholar Luke Stark (Interventions, 2018); representations of VR in contemporary science fiction, with anthropologist Lisa Messeri (NatureCulture, 2019); and the implications of VR design for people with disabilities, with two former students (Gaming Disability, forthcoming).
She is currently working on several projects: an investigation of how public technology performances draw on cultural codes to construct optimistic imaginaries of techno-futures; a speculative fiction exploring the impact of AI in higher education, with designer Zach Kaiser; and a praxis-based curricular intervention exploring how science and technology studies can critical thinking in STEM pedagogy. She received her PhD in Communication and Science Studies from the University of California, San Diego in 2013.