Research Scientist, GIS

About the Role

We are looking for an exceptional, creative, and highly motivated Research Scientist with a strong background in data science, geospatial analysis, and advanced machine learning methods. The Research Scientist will provide support across Surgo’s platforms, including the Remote Sensing for Reproductive, Maternal, and Child Health initiative, which leverages deep learning and satellite imagery to provide small scale estimates of critical health outcomes in data-poor settings.

Role Description:

As Research Scientist, you will:

  • Support Surgo’s data platforms and initiatives

  • Support analysis of large data sets using cutting edge analytic techniques including geospatial mapping and advanced machine learning methods

  • Distill analyses into clear insights

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

This position is ideal for recent PhDs looking to transition from academia and grow into a more applied role

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 organization.


  • Ph.D. with concentration in social and life sciences, geography, statistics/biostatistics, or another relevant field.

  • Strong background in statistical methods and data analysis, including cleaning and merging data sets, statistical inference/hypothesis testing, and advanced analytic techniques (e.g., clustering and classification, multivariate linear and GLM modeling, Bayesian inference)

  • Extensive knowledge of statistical packages (R is preferred)

  • Proficiency in high level programming languages (Python is preferred)

  • Strong background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

  • Experience using advanced machine learning methods (e.g., neural networks; deep learning) to distill insights from big data

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

Desired skills:

  • Familiarity working in cloud computing environments such as Amazon Web Services

  • Experience with data visualization tools (e.g. Tableau)

  • Strong publication record

  • Experience working in social impact and/or health issues in a low resource setting is a plus (but not required)

Location: Washington DC, USA

Compensation: 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 a resume and cover letter to Dr. Kasey Morris (

Closing date for applications: Accepted on a rolling basis

Desired start date: As soon as possible