I earned my Ph.D. in labor economics from Cornell University in 1999. Over the past 25 years, I conducted impact evaluations and research on evaluation methods at Mathematica Policy Research, the Urban Institute, Abt Associates, and Westat. I'm currently a Senior Fellow at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.

My primary interest is in supporting research teams in conducting impact evaluations with adequate statistical power, strong internal validity, and strong external validity or generalizability--my area of specialization. If you'd like to talk with me about possible collaborations, or just do discuss issues of generalizability, please email me at rob.olsen.research@gmail.com

Currently, I am working with collaborators to:

  • Develop an evaluator's guide to generalizability for applied researchers who conduct impact evaluations in education.

  • Test the performance of site selection methods for obtaining representative samples for multi-site randomized trials when sites are not required to participate.

  • Test the performance of machine learning techniques for predicting the impacts of educational interventions in individual locations using the data from multi-site randomized trials.


  • Develop software and software tools to support the selection of sites for multi-site randomized trials.