Robert Nathenson is a senior researcher at AIR. He has over 10 years of experience in the execution of rigorous econometric and behavioral science techniques to applied policy questions in the postsecondary education, pre-k-12 education, and health fields. Dr. Nathenson regularly conducts research using both experimental and quasi-experimental designs. His work has a particular emphasis on fostering opportunity and mobility for minority, historically underserved, and low-income populations. Recent methodological work focuses on using behavioral science techniques to evaluate and improve survey response rates.
In higher education, Dr. Nathenson's work focuses on (1) early warning systems in high schools; (2) access, consumer choice, and transitions to college; (3) persistence and graduation; (4) economic mobility and labor market returns, particularly at Minority Serving Institutions; and (5) college savings and student loan debt. He is the principal investigator of the evaluation of the Pennsylvania Treasury’s statewide initiative, Keystone Scholars, the largest College Savings Account program in the country. He recently authored a report on inter-generational economic mobility, Moving Upward and Onward: Income Mobility at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He formerly led a higher education podcast series, covering such topics as Developmental Education, College Counseling Programs, College Promise Programs, and Education Deserts.
In pre-K-12 education, his work includes a national evaluation of Teach for America AmeriCorps, as well as an Education Innovation and Research grant for a randomized control trial (RCT) of an Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System. He previously served as the quantitative lead of a National Science Foundation (NSF) RCT of a formative assessment mathematics professional development program for grades 3-5 teachers and another NSF-funded non-experimental expansion of the same program to grades K-2 and 6-8 teachers.
Dr. Nathenson's health research focuses on access and utilization for low-income, minority, and mental health populations. He has worked on the impact of mental health regulation on consumer utilization and employer behavior, access to care for Spanish speakers and immigrant populations, and the transition from the pediatric to the adult health care system for young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
He regularly presents his work at regional and national conferences, as well as at academic institutions. His work has been published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness (JREE); Pediatrics; Milbank Quarterly; Psychiatric Services; World Journal of Surgical Oncology; International Journal of Health Economics and Management; and Health Economics, Policy and Law. His work has been cited in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and other mainstream and trade publications.
Dr. Nathenson formerly was a research specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). He completed his postdoctoral work at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) predoctoral fellow.
Ph.D., Sociology of Education and M.S.E., Applied Math and Statistics, Johns Hopkins University; M.Sc., Sociology, University of Oxford; B.A., History and American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis