Carmen Gonzalez Receives RRF Award

CarmenGonzalez150The UW Office of Research recently granted Assistant Professor Carmen Gonzalez an award through the Royalty Research Fund (RRF) in recognition of her research which investigates the relationship between digital and social equity. Gonzalez, together with Jason Yip of the UW Information School, have been awarded the RRF for a project entitled, “Latino Youth Searching and Brokering Online Information for Their Families.”

The UW gives RRF awards twice annually to faculty who have applied for project support. This program has existed since 1992, and an RRF Scholar option was added in 1994. RRF Scholars receive release time from teaching for one academic quarter in order to focus on their project. The RRF receives income from royalty and license fees generated through the UW’s technology transfer program. It is a competitive process to win an RRF award; the average success rate is just 26%. The funding amount for the award is $39,994.

The research focus for Gonzalez is a continuation of study in the Latino community that stems from her time at USC during the United States immigration reform protests in 2006. Gonzalez and her colleague Jason Yip will study multi-lingual Latino families in which children serve important roles as a go-between or “brokers,” deploying language, culture, and technological skills to bridge access to information resources for their families. Gonzalez and Yip will investigate how these child brokers search for, interpret, and translate online information.

Gonzalez spoke about the importance of the award, saying, “Without the RRF, we might have been able to do this research on a much smaller scope. Now, we are able to study thirty families, which is really time intensive. We are able to do search tasks, so we can see how kids are searching for their parents. We will use GoPro cameras to record that engagement. This is what we are able to do.”

In addition to the RRF award, Gonzalez and Yip have received funding through a Google Faculty Research Award to help fund an assistant. Gonzalez said that the data collection would take approximately a year. The subsequent analysis should provide insight into how child brokers can best help their parents and also enhance their ability to succeed at school and their community. This manner of applied research is a driving force behind the work that Gonzalez sets out to accomplish. Gonzalez finished by saying, “A cool part about the RRF is that we wrote in a piece that allows for skill development workshops. We want to apply the work we do and support the community.”