My name is Matt Rafalow and I am a PhD Candidate in Sociology at University of California, Irvine and a researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network based out of the University of California Humanities Research Institute. I am also an intern scientist at Yahoo! Labs. My research primarily centers on education, youth and technology/new media, though I also study intersections of these different interests with colleagues in other research areas (partner selection, social movements).
My dissertation will focus on how new media technologies are taken up and evaluated in different educational contexts. In particular, I am interested in how young people use new media technologies in ways that enable or deter learning and inequality more broadly. I am very fortunate to be supported by such a great committee: Cynthia Feliciano, Francesca Polletta, Ann Hironaka, Mimi Ito, and Mark Warschauer. This project also benefits from my existing work on digital media and learning. With other graduate students and faculty from research teams around the country, I am examining the learning ecology of networked environments as part of a MacArthur Foundation-funded research initiative called Connected Learning.
My academic background informs my current work. I completed my Master’s Degree in education at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 2010 under the advising of Amy Stuart Wells. I also had the great fortune to conduct research on single-sex schooling under the supervision of Nancy Lesko while a student at TC. I studied alongside some incredible teachers and administrators during my time at Columbia and in NYC. They remain a real motivating force behind my own interests in education and youth.
When I’m not doing research, I’m quite active with LGBTQ outreach both locally through mentorship and more broadly via the internets. I’m quite proud of my work for a now-discontinued blog titled Below the Belt, where academics, activists, and artists, young and old, would gather to discuss issues broadly related to gender and its intersections. My four-year stint as editor ended when I started my PhD program. A relic of the site can be found here, in e-zine format.
I’m also really into cooking.