Michael Baran, PhD

Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research
Michael Baran is a principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Baran is a cultural anthropologist with more than twenty years of experience conducting and organizing ethnographic research for social change on a variety of issues, including race and identity, racial disparities in education, violence against children, healthy housing, environmental health, human services, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, climate change, and early childhood development. Baran has conducted research domestically and internationally, most extensively in Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Haiti. Currently, he manages the community-based research on a USAID-funded project aimed to leverage deep foundational research to better inform interventions and communications to reduce violence against children in Haiti. In this project and others, Baran builds capacity with teams of local researchers to conduct culturally relevant research and to support the long-term sustainability of the project. Prior to his time at AIR, Baran was an associate director at the FrameWorks Institute. In that capacity, he conducted and supervised teams of social scientists conducting both qualitative and quantitative research to inform evidence-based communications strategies. He has taught courses on race and identity, Latin America, child development, expository writing, and research methodology at Harvard University and the University of Michigan. He has also designed innovative digital modules for effective learning about complex issues such as race and identity. His digital module (Don't) Guess My Race was nominated for a Knight News Games for Change Award in 2012. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and is learning Haitian Creole.


  • PhD University of Michigan