Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes

Senior Fellow

Sarah Hughes has extensive experience as an international project director and survey expert. She is a leader in research and questionnaire design, managing large-scale surveys using computer-assisted personal interviewing, and collecting and analyzing qualitative data in international, particularly developing-country, settings. Her expertise spans high quality and cost-effective data collection using innovative, cutting-edge approaches in developing countries, business development, and direction of large, complex projects.

Hughes joined Mathematica in 2015 from NORC at the University of Chicago, where she directed surveys and evaluations in Africa, Latin America, and the United States for more than a decade. As senior survey director of international projects, she directed international evaluations, conducted data collection and analysis, and designed and managed public policy research projects and surveys for international agencies and governments, foundations, academic organizations, and U.S. entities.

At Mathematica, Hughes directs impact and program evaluations and provides leadership on survey methodology for projects in developing country contexts. For the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), she leads evaluations of a large electricity generation and distribution project in Benin and an irrigation and land rights project in Senegal. For Mathematica’s impact evaluations of MCC-funded roads in Ghana and Tanzania, Hughes directs the collection of engineering and economic data for inputs to the Highway Development and Maintenance Management System model that will be used to analyze the interventions’ return on investment. For the MasterCard Foundation Scholars program, she conducted the Alumni Voices project, a mixed-methods study of short-term post-graduation outcomes for scholarship recipients. In her survey work, Hughes has developed and managed numerous large-scale survey projects using tablets and smartphones, including a study sponsored by the World Bank to assess current living conditions and municipal service delivery in Kenya. She initiated and led efforts to test the use of laptops and tablets for data collection and developed recommendations for project teams transitioning from computer-assisted personal interviewing to tablets. She has also tested interviewer quality when using tablets versus smartphones. In addition to working on a range of projects for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Hughes frequently provides technical assistance and practical training on data collection techniques to government and non-governmental agencies and is a member of the World Bank’s Technical Advisory Group on Survey Methodology.

Hughes is a member of the American Evaluation Association and the European Survey Research Association and is the author of many professional papers. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.

  • Managing complex international evaluations and data collections
  • Research and questionnaire design
  • Developing and managing large-scale surveys using new technologies
  • Qualitative data collection and analysis
  • Cross-national, cross-cultural data collection design
Focus Area Topics
  • Global
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy

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