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 served as vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, he received a BA in mathematics from Trinity University after attending San Antonio Community College. Santos received an MA in statistics from the University of Michigan while learning the art and science of survey sampling at the Survey Research Center of the UM Institute for Social Research. With more than 40 years of experience, his expertise spans quantitative and qualitative research design, sampling, survey operations, and statistical analysis, and his specialty areas include undocumented immigrants and other disadvantaged populations. Santos has worked across a wide range of policy areas including education, health, immigration and refugees, environmental issues, housing discrimination, travel behavior, and elections.
Santos has held executive-level leadership positions at the University of Michigan Survey Research Center and at NORC and was a partner of NuStats, LLC, in Austin, Texas. Santos served on panels of the National Academies and is a member of the National Center for Health Statistics Board of Scientific Counselors (2017–20). He also served on the editorial board of Public Opinion Quarterly and held elected board positions in the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the Washington Statistical Society, and the American Statistical Association (ASA). Santos has been elected to be the 116th president of ASA (with presidency in 2021). He has served as AAPOR president (2013–14) and ASA vice president (2015–17). Santos is an ASA Fellow and a 2006 ASA’s Founder’s Award recipient.