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Lauren Persha

Pronouns: She/Her

Principal Research Scientist
Lauren is an evaluation specialist who leads impact studies of agricultural livelihoods, land tenure, and natural resource governance programs.

Lauren has nearly 20 years of research experience in a range of linked international development sectors including livelihoods, local institutions, land tenure, food security, smallholder agriculture, forest conservation, and natural resource governance. At NORC, Lauren leads multidisciplinary teams in the design and implementation of mixed-methods studies, impact evaluations, and performance evaluations of development programs within the same sectors, as well as targeted research to support program implementation and learning.

Since 2015, Lauren has served as Principal Investigator, Research Lead, Team Lead or Technical Advisor for 19 USAID-supported mixed methods performance evaluations, impact evaluations, assessments or special studies of programs in Burkina Faso, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Liberia, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.

​​Prior to joining NORC, Lauren was an assistant professor in the Geography Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a post-doc at the University of Michigan, and worked previously for an integrated forest conservation and development program in East Africa. She has authored or co-authored nearly 40 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, baseline studies and endline or follow-on evaluation reports. Her research has been published in journals such as Conservation Biology, Forest Policy and Economics, Global Environmental Change, World Development, and Science in addition to 3ie’s Impact Evaluation report series.

Project Contributions

Communications, Evidence & Learning Project

Strengthening the evidence base for effective land and resource governance


U.S. Agency for International Development

Tanzania Data for Development Activity

Improving education, health, poverty, governance, and economic development


U.S. Agency for International Development