Research Scientist, Behavioral

About the Role

We are looking for an exceptional, creative, and highly motivated Research Scientist with a very strong background in behavioral research methods at scale. As Research Scientist, your responsibilities will include:

  • Design and execute Surgo Foundation’s research instruments

  • Develop and test experimental methods of behavioral and health systems data collection at scale

  • Synthesize the most cross cutting approaches from both the private and public sector, and apply these to different problems sets

  • Support analysis of large development data sets using statistical methods

  • Distill analyses into clear insights

  • Present to partners and collaborators and prepare scientific communication to journals and conferences

This position is ideal for a PhD-level candidate with private-sector consumer research experience looking to innovate on behavioral research in global development. This position requires deep technical knowledge in study design and experimental as well as observational research methods, and a passion to build innovative methodological solutions to solve the most pressing development problems. This role entails strong relationship management with a diverse set of partners, and collaborative work within the Surgo research team. 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.


  • 2+ years of post-PhD behavioral research experience in the private consumer research sector

  • PhD with concentration in behavioral science, experimental psychology, epidemiology, behavioral economics, sociology, public health, or related fields

  • Proven track record of designing and implementing quantitative observational or experimental research at scale, using multiple research methods such as surveys, decision making experiments, implicit association tests, etc.

  • Excellent communication (written, verbal and visual presentation) skills


  • Previous experience of working in global development or low-resource settings is a plus

  • Familiarity with building production-ready web- or mobile-based data collection pipelines is a plus

Core skills:

  • Applied research skills in a variety of behavioral data collection methods at scale, especially experimental (e.g. discrete choice experiments) and technology-based observational (e.g. mobile-based surveys)

  • Experience in a fast-paced, private-sector consumer research environment (e.g. market research)

  • Excellent ability to digest and evaluate evidence from interdisciplinary literature

  • Experience with rigorous study sample design

  • Some experience with questionnaire data analysis, data cleaning, and statistical inference/hypothesis testing

  • Strong writing skills for an academic and non-academic audience, publication record a plus

  • Willingness to travel if required and at short notice, even to remote places at times


Location: Washington DC, USA

Compensation: Highly competitive compensation and benefits package

Travel: Some international and national travel (up to 10%)

About Surgo

Surgo Foundation is an ‘action tank’ focused on using the latest innovations around behavior, tech, and data to drive change in communities with limited resources.  With a laser focus on uncovering the ‘why’, we partner with organizations and governments to help unlock some of the world’s toughest challenges, from improving maternal health to reducing the spread of Tuberculosis. Our multidisciplinary team includes public health 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 team having an outsized impact.  

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 requirements.

We ask….

Do you have a deep passion for improving the lives of people who live in extreme poverty around the world?

Do you want to work in one of the most entrepreneurial development organizations?

Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and be part of a core team that grows this organization, and grow with it?

Are you a problem solver by nature? Do you live and breathe data and see patterns in it that others don’t?

Would people say you are one of the most analytic, curious and creative people they know?

If yes…we look forward to hearing from you…

Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy

Surgo believes a diverse, inclusive staff makes us a stronger team and more impactful organization. We’re committed to a diverse team, and qualified people of all races, ethnicities, cultures, ages, sex, genders, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, languages, social class, marital status, religions, veterans status, and disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Interested candidates: Please send Resume and Cover Letter to Dr. Elisabeth Engl (

Closing date for applications: Accepted on a rolling basis

Desired start date: As soon as possible