Katz, Vaala, and Yip Named Senior Cooney Center Fellows

by Administrator
April 14, 2015

We are proud to announce a brand new fellows program at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Unlike the Center’s traditional Fellowship, which is annually awarded to early-career investigators, the Cooney Center Senior Fellowship program honors individuals for their past contributions as well as ongoing collaborations with the Cooney Center. Drs. Vikki Katz, and Sarah Vaala, and Jason Yip—all of whom are no strangers to the Cooney Center and its mission—have been selected as inaugural Senior Fellows for the Spring 2015 – Winter 2016 term. Please join us in congratulating Vikki, Sarah, and Jason and read more below about how each will work with the Cooney Center in the year ahead.

Vikki Katz

Vikki KatzVikki Katz, PhD, is a senior research associate at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and an assistant professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on Latino families and how they engage each other and technology for different kinds of activities. She is currently partnering with the JGCC to explore—using both interview and survey methods—how low-income Latino families make decisions about adopting broadband and digital technologies that are offered through digital equity initiatives, to establish how these can be better leveraged for learning gains. This research is being generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Her work has been published in a number of journals, including Journal of Children and Media, Journal of Communication and Journal of Information Policy. Her book, Kids in the Middle, examines the roles that children of immigrants play in their families’ social integration by brokering language, culture, and media content(Rutgers University Press). She also co-authored Understanding Ethnic Media (Sage Publications).

Dr. Katz holds a B.A. from UCLA and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, where she also held an Annenberg Foundation postdoctoral fellowship for two years. You can learn more about her work at vikkikatz.com.


Sarah Vaala

Vaala_Sarah_020215Sarah Vaala, PhD, served as the 2011-2012 Joan Ganz Cooney Center research fellow, after completing her doctorate in Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.  During her fellowship she conducted research regarding parent-child co-reading of e-books, as well as parents’ perceptions of these tools relative to traditional books.  She also helped to organize a conference of leading scholars, educators, policy-makers, and producers to discuss how and in what contexts US Hispanic families are communicating with and learning from digital technologies.

Sarah has remained a research associate with the Cooney Center since completing her fellowship.  She also completed an academic post-doctoral research fellowship at the Annenberg Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, where she continued to study children’s media environments and factors that impact parents’ decision-making about children’s media use.

Currently, Sarah is a research associate at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.  She is helping to design and test multi-media tools that assist youth with type 1 diabetes in overcoming challenges related to following their medical regimen.  In her work with the Cooney Center she is leading a market scan and content analysis of language- and literacy-focused apps for children ages birth through eight years.

Jason Yip

jasonyipJason Yip, PhD, is an assistant professor of digital youth at The Information School at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research focuses on how the design and implementation of new learning technologies can support participatory learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) between children and families.

Jason was the Cooney Center’s postdoctoral research fellow for the 2013-2014 year. Among the many hats he wore during his fellowship, Jason primarily contributed to planning and collecting data for the New York City sub-study of the Families and Media Project (FAM). He also helped to collect survey data for the Digital Games and Family Life Survey, which examines how parents are gaming together with their children.

Currently, Jason is working with the Cooney Center on several projects. He is co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation Cyberlearning grant exploring how new social media technologies can support science learning together in neighborhoods. Jason is exploring how these technologies can bridge science learning between home, school, and afterschool contexts with Lori Takeuchi as well as his University of Maryland Co-PIs Tamara Clegg and June Ahn. Jason is also supporting the analysis and write-up of both the FAM and Digital Games and Family Life research.

Jason taught high school chemistry for six years in urban, private, and large public schools before earning his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2014. He’s back in the classroom at UW, teaching Design Thinking (user-centered design in HCI) and an introductory seminar course on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning.