Initiative Director - Development Innovation Lab, University of Chicago

  • United States of America
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:

Job Summary

The Development Innovation Lab (DIL) at the University of Chicago is a new initiative led by Nobel laureate Professor Michael Kremer. Announced in fall 2020, DIL uses economics tools to develop and test innovations that improve lives in developing countries. From a chlorine dispenser based on the insights of behavioral economics, to the financing of Covid-19 vaccines, DIL works with governments, firms and nonprofits to advance knowledge and generate practical solutions to development challenges which can reach hundreds of millions of people.

The Initiative Directors will work closely with DIL director Michael Kremer and the faculty director for each initiative to establish and lead this new initiative within DIL. The Initiative Directors will build relationships with agencies and organizations working in their sector. This includes high-level relationship building, research project development and management, financial and grant management, and program and donor development. To be successful they will need to have strong experience working in development economics research, be a highly dynamic and analytical individual who can build relationships and excel in a diverse set of responsibilities from working with partners to developing research designs to translating academic research into policy and implementation recommendations.

The Development Innovation Lab (DIL) at the University of Chicago is seeking a full-time director to set up and lead one or more new initiatives on agriculture, education, water and child health, institutions for innovation, and meta analysis.


  • Identifies, develops and manages research projects, with travel as necessary to support project development and set-up.
  • Designs and executes strategies to enable scaling of relevant innovations through partners.
  • Builds relationships with key partners in governments, NGOs, foundations, and multilateral aid agencies.
  • Leads global and local dissemination and policy outreach for the initiative, with a view to scaling up insights from the research.
  • Hires and manages staff to meet the initiative’s goals.
  • Spearheads fundraising and grant writing efforts to support core initiative activities.
  • Ensures smooth administration of the Program, including financial and administrative oversight, project management, and grant reporting.
  • Coordinates and collaborates with other initiative leads.
  • Recruits pre- and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Collaborates on research design.
  • Develops lab strategy and plans.
  • Collaborates with the Weiss Fund for Development Economics.
  • Collaborates across policy or research activities, especially where there is crossover or common partners between initiatives.
  • Manages research professionals and support staff involved with planning, monitoring, and compliance aspects of research projects. Advises other researchers on long-range plans for research projects.
  • Manages the laboratory facilities, including the purchase of new equipment and the maintenance and repair of laboratory equipment.
  • Reviews research of others, and may conduct own research, in area of expertise. Edits and approves articles, reports and manuscripts. Presents research findings at meetings and/or conference. Manages the research of processes in clinical or non-clinical settings. Program and use computers to store, process, and analyze data.
  • Performs other related work as needed.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Education: Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.
  • Work Experience: Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 7+ years of work experience in a related job discipline.

Preferred Qualifications


  • Master's degree.
  • PhD or master's degree in economics, public policy or international development including significant training in economics.


  • Seven or more years of relevant work experience, PhD can count for up to 3 years of experience.
  • PhD level training in microeconomics and econometrics; candidates from a policy background or related academic background who can demonstrate similar knowledge will also be considered.
  • Prior experience working on randomized evaluations, development economics research, and/or public policy in developing countries.
  • Substantial experience working in one or more of the initiative areas in developing countries.
  • Background working with developing country governments or large bilateral and multilateral funders.
  • Working knowledge organizing policy events as well as producing policy resources and publications.
  • Skillful at effecting change within governments or large multilateral organizations and/or experience implementing large scale programs.

Preferred Competencies

  • Demonstrated ability to maintain high-level relationships with governments, international development practitioners, and/or academic researchers.
  • Excellent verbal, written and presentation skills.
  • Demonstrated project management skills, including managing and successfully working across teams, budgeting, attention to operational and research details, and ability to manage multiple projects efficiently.
  • Work independently and manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Strong problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • Advanced knowledge in relevant field of economics.
  • Advanced knowledge of research techniques and/or methods.

Working Conditions

  • Willing to undertake extensive domestic and international travel.

How to Apply

Application Documents

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover Letter (required)
  • References Contact Information (3)(required)
  • Work sample (required)