Translating International Development Research into Impact

Lessons from RAND Researchers on Effective Ways to Bridge Research and Implementation

African woman pumps water at a local well

Photo by USAID Africa Bureau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Jill Luoto
Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Tom Ling
Senior Research Leader and Head of Evaluation, RAND Europe

Melinda Moore
Senior Physician Policy Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Kathryn Pitkin Derose
Senior Policy Researcher; Professor of Health Policy, Pardee RAND Graduate School


Krishna Kumar
Director, RAND Labor and Population; Distinguished Chair in International Economic Policy; Senior Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School


Thursday, September 21, 2017


RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA


Researchers in the field of international development have designed toolkits, performed rigorous socio-economic analyses, prescribed data-driven policies, and proposed robust interventions among many other ambitious endeavors, often without achieving the desired lasting impact in the nations studied. International development presents many multi-faceted challenges, and chief among them is how our expanding body of knowledge is translated into sensible implementation of research-based solutions, particularly in areas with lackluster institutions and support structures. In this panel, the speakers explored how expert researchers have managed to translate their work into sustained impact in complex international environments.

Subtopics included:

  • Building partnerships with multilaterals for implementation
  • Innovation in methodology & technology
  • Addressing unintended consequences after implementation


Jill Luoto is an economist at the RAND Corporation who conducts research in the areas of labor, health, and behavioral economics with a focus on poverty and individual decisionmaking. She is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She has been principal investigator on five randomized controlled trials testing behavioral means to increase uptake of preventive health and savings behaviors.

Tom Ling is a senior research leader at RAND Europe. He leads evaluations and applied research focused on the key challenges facing organisations in health, well-being, and development. Previously, Ling was head of Impact Innovation and Evidence at Save the Children where his responsibilities included ensuring that evaluations contribute to policy and change in the challenging environment of international development.

Melinda Moore is a senior physician policy researcher and an associate director of the Population Health Program at the RAND Corporation. She is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She previously served with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 20 years and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office Global Health Affairs (now Office of Global Affairs) for five years.

Kathryn Pitkin Derose is senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, professor of health policy at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and regular member of RAND's Human Subjects Protection Committee. She also leads the RAND Social Determinants of Health Interest Group and the RAND Health Research Staff Advisory Council. Her research focuses on understanding and addressing health disparities.


Krishna Kumar is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and is the director of its Labor and Population unit, whose mission is to improve socio-economic wellbeing around the world through research and analysis. He also leads the Rosenfeld Program on Asian Development at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where he teaches a course in macroeconomic development.

About IDSS

The International Development Speaker Series is a student-led initiative sponsored by Pardee RAND Graduate School and several RAND research units: RAND Labor and Population, RAND International, RAND Health, RAND Education, and RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

Learn more about the International Development Speaker Series