Robert L. Santos is the 26th director of the U.S. Census Bureau. He was sworn in on January 5, 2022.
His career spans more than 40 years in survey research, statistical design and analysis and executive-level management. Before coming to the Census Bureau, he spent 15 years as vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and directed its Statistical Methods Group – and served as executive vice president and partner of NuStats, a social science research firm in Austin, Texas.
Santos has held leadership positions at the nation’s top survey research organizations, including the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC), where he served as vice president of statistics and methodology and director of survey operations; the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research as director of survey operations; and Temple University’s Institute for Survey Research as senior study director and sampling statistician.
Santos specializes in quantitative and qualitative research design, including program evaluation, needs assessments, survey methodology and survey operations. He also has expertise in demographic and administrative data, decennial censuses, social policy research and equity issues in research.
Santos served as the 2021 president of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and is an ASA fellow and 2006 recipient of the ASA Founder’s Award. He served as president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in 2014 and received the 2021 AAPOR Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement. He also received the 2022 Ohtli Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the Mexican government to acknowledge contributions to the Mexican community by people living outside of Mexico. In 2023, he received the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Excellence in Community Service Award.
Santos is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute and, from 2017 to 2020, served on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. He was also a longtime member of the editorial board of Public Opinion Quarterly.
Santos was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Holy Cross of San Antonio High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity University in San Antonio and a master’s degree in statistics from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In 2023, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Sciences by North Carolina State University as well as an honorary Associate of Science from San Antonio College.