Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Ph.D.

Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Ph.D.

Associate Director, The Institute for Creative Technologies
Research Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry and the School of Gerontology
University of Southern California,
13274 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA. 90292;
email: arizzo@usc.edu
Office: 310-301-5018  Cell: 213-610-4737

Albert “Skip” Rizzo received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is an Associate Director at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (Medical Virtual Reality) and has Research Professor appointments with the USC Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality (VR) systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. This work spans the domains of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations.

In the psychological domain, the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan project has focused on the creation of a VR exposure therapy application for combat-related PTSD with OIF/OEF service members and veterans. This system, now available at 55 clinics, is now being retooled for a stress resilience/coping strategy-training application for use at prior to a combat deployment. He is also involved with ICT collaborators in the creation of artificially intelligent virtual human patients that clinicians can use to practice skills required for challenging clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments (sexual assault, resistant patients, etc.) and for creating online virtual human healthcare guides for breaking down barriers to care in psychological health and TBI. His cognitive work has addressed the use of VR applications to test and train attention, memory, visuospatial abilities and executive function. In the motor domain, he has developed VR Game systems to address physical rehabilitation post stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury and for those aging with a disability. He has also investigated the use of VR for pain distraction at LA Children’s Hospital and has conducted research on VR applications that use 360 Degree Panoramic video for role-playing applications (anger management, etc.), journalism studies and digital media art creation.

In spite of the diversity of these areas of research and development, the common thread that drives all of these applications involves the study of how VR simulation technology can be usefully applied to serve the needs of the user/client/patient in a manner that goes beyond what is available with traditional 20th Century tools and methods. He was awarded the Laval Virtual Reality International Conference “Best Medical Application” in 2008 for “Virtual Iraq”, “Best Medical Application” and ‘Best of Show” in 2003 for the “Virtual Classroom for Attention Process Assessment” project and has received the Mensa L.A. Chapter’s first Intellectual Leadership Award (2009). He recently received the “American Psychological Association 2010 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Practice of Trauma Psychology” and the MMVR Satava Award for excellence in the use of VR for therapeutic applications. In his spare time, he plays rugby, listens to music, rides his motorcycle and thinks about new ways that VR can have a positive impact on clinical care by dragging the field of psychology, kickin’ and screamin’, into the 21st Century. To view some videos on his work, please visit this YouTube channel.

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