About Us Authors and Staff

Robert Santos

Robert Santos

Chief methodologist
Director, Statistical methods group

I have a passion for policy research and helping society to become more informed about public issues. It is incredibly rewarding to apply statistical principles and tools to studies of pragmatic, real-world problems and to help researchers develop rigorous scientific approaches to collect and analyze data for policy insights.


Robert Santos, chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, has over 35 years of experience designing research and evaluation studies. His expertise includes qualitative and quantitative research design, sampling, survey operations, and statistical analysis; specialty areas include Hispanics, blacks, undocumented immigrants, and other disadvantaged populations. Santos is also an expert in travel behavior research; he served as a statistical advisor on the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (researching long-distance travel methods for the Federal Highway Administration) and developed a driving exposure data-collection system for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Additionally, he has conducted studies in education, health, racial/ethnic topics, sensitive topic issues, special populations, environmental issues, housing issues, politics, and firefighter safety.

Before joining Urban, Santos held executive-level leadership positions at the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago. He was also a partner of NuStats, LLC in Austin, Texas.

Santos has served on the Transportation Research Board and numerous Committee on National Statistics panels for the National Academies. He has also served on the editorial board of Public Opinion Quarterly and held various executive, elected positions in the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), Washington Statistical Society, and the American Statistical Association (ASA). He is the 2013–14 AAPOR president. Santos is a fellow of the ASA and 2006 recipient of the Founder’s Award for excellence in survey statistics and contributions to the statistical community. He holds an MA in statistics from the University of Michigan.