Senior Research Scientist

Surgo Foundation is a privately funded ‘action tank’ focused on bringing the latest innovations around behavior, tech, and data to global development.  With a laser focus on uncovering the ‘why’, we partner with organizations and governments to help unlock some of their biggest challenges. Our model is to supplement existing programs with our funds, expertise, and tools. Our multidisciplinary team includes development experts, data scientists, behavioral scientists, and technologists who are skilled in collecting and interpreting data on why people behave the way they do and how complex systems work, and in developing scalable tools. We are a small but diverse team with big plans.  

Surgo Foundation is working on major global issues such as reproductive health, maternal health, HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, education, and housing.  For example, Surgo has a Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health program in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India in partnership with the Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Surgo’s Causal Machine Learning Initiative for Precision Public Health is testing applicability and feasibility of applying machine learning approaches to analyze large public health data sets.

Role Description:

We are looking for an exceptional, creative, and highly motivated Senior Research Scientist with extensive applied experience in design of large-scale field studies and analyses of large- scale data sets. As Senior Research Scientist, your responsibilities will include:

  • Design large-scale quantitative surveys
  • Serve as statistical lead on research programs: design and analyze Surgo Foundation’s quantitative research programs, creatively applying, adapting, and integrating innovative statistical and experimental methodologies to key development problems
  • Design analysis plans, socialize them, and incorporate necessary feedback across internal and external stakeholders
  • Visualize results for easy interpretation and application of insights, using graphics and layman’s language to communicate them
  • Keep up to date and explore adaptation of new methodologies and technologies for design and implementation of Surgo’s research programs
  • Support preparation of research protocols for IRB approvals
  • Work collaboratively with other Senior Research Scientist in management of data platforms and initiatives
  • Present to partners and collaborators as needed in meetings and conference settings
  • Prepare and support scientific communication to journals and conferences


This is a senior position that requires proven experience creatively designing studies and applying statistical methods to challenging research problems. This requires a passion for unraveling and defining challenging ad hoc research problems and integrating methods to answer them through insights.

We are looking for someone entrepreneurial in spirit, strong problem solver, and an excellent communicator. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the voice and influence strategy and delivery for an innovative, ambitious, and fast-growing foundation.


  • PhD-level candidate with at least 4+ years of applied research experience, including extensive experience designing and analyzing large scale studies; consumer research (e.g. market research) and healthcare research experience preferred
  • Very experienced MS-level candidates will be considered
  • Strong coding skills (R or Python; R strongly preferred) and familiarity with statistical packages such as SAS, SPSS, or STATA required
  • Exceptional proficiency in applying and interpreting statistical methods, including different types of regression, factor analysis, discriminant analysis, conjoint and discrete choice, decision tree analyses, segmentation (K- means, etc.), MaxDiff, perceptual mapping (correspondence, etc.). In-depth knowledge of methods assumptions, advantages and disadvantages is required.
  • Proficiency in machine learning algorithms such as clustering and segmentation techniques, optimization algorithms, multivariate and linear GLM modeling, Bayesian Causal Interference, graphical modeling. Structural equation modeling, and text analytics preferred
  • Proficiency with data visualization techniques
  • Proficiency with data mining, data validation, data cleaning, integrating multiple data sets and ability to dealing with missing data
  • Demand-based forecast modeling (e.g., BASES derived methods) experience preferred
  • Proficiency in SQL recommended
  • Proven publication record, with exceptional publication writing skills
  • Excellent communication (written, verbal and visual presentation) skills
  • Willingness to travel


Location: Washington DC, USA

Compensation: Highly competitive compensation and benefits package

Travel: International and national travel (10-25%)


Our hiring philosophy:

We hire for passion and core competencies.

We look for problem solvers and lateral thinkers.

We love it if you have done different things with your time.

If you think you are ideal for this position, write to us even if you don’t have all of the above preferred requirements.



  • Application deadline: June 30, 2018
  • Interested applicants, please send your 1) resume/CV and 2) brief cover letter to Dr. Sema Sgaier PhD, Executive Director, Surgo Foundation:
  • Short-listed applicants will be interviewed