Research Scientist (Data)- IDEA Lab - J-PAL South Asia

J-PAL South Asia
  • India
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:
Two years

Location: Chennai, India

J-PAL South Asia, based at the Institute of Financial Research and Management in India, seeks a Research Scientist (Data) under its Innovations in Data and Experiments for Action (IDEA) Lab. We are looking for a high-caliber individual who can leverage their technical expertise and professional experience in data science and machine learning to execute high-impact projects leveraging administrative data in social impact sectors such as health, firms & economy, education, etc.

The IDEA initiative launched in 2018 aims to increase the use of administrative data by governments, non-profits, private firms and researchers for evidence-informed decision making (Read more). The IDEA Lab at J-PAL South Asia started up in 2020 engages in long term collaborations with government, non-government and private partners to unlock data for use in policy research and action. In parallel, the IDEA Lab also works with government partners to strengthen capabilities for better access to and use of administrative data internally and through research collaborations. We are building a team of data analysts and research/data scientists to systematically identify and develop data use cases in a number of sectors with strong and growing digitized data, such as health, taxation, small and medium enterprises, job markets, school education, energy, etc. We work across a few states in India and are engaged in collaborations with central government agencies and other private/non-profit organizations to further the mandate to institutionalize the use of data for more effective program implementation and sustainable system-level changes. 

The Research Scientist (Data) will work closely with the Senior Manager, Project Director and the project teams comprising of Data Managers and Data Associates in Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Delhi to identify potential data science solutions and implement predictive models using administrative data.

Key responsibilities will include:

  • Building a deep understanding of the Monitoring and Information System, including the data collection and verification processes for large data-sets;
  • Conducting data validity and data reliability assessments for predictive modelling;
  • Identifying challenges in the current MIS, and ideating with the Project Director/Senior Manager/Data Manager on data science solutions in line with industry best-practices/innovations and evidence-based research in machine learning, economics and public health;
  • Feature engineering, data wrangling and data analysis using R/Python;
  • Working closely with government stakeholders and the project team to build the necessary training datasets for advanced analysis/predictive modeling; 
  • Building and testing machine learning algorithms for fraud detection for example, in insurance application and claims, product optimization, and other areas conditional on the availability and quality of data;
  • Designing/Ideating on full-stack solutions to the data science problems identified with government stakeholders;
  • Designing/Ideating on KPIs for monitoring systems/dashboards to monitor the key outcomes of critical interventions such as health insurance, maternal and child health, skills & jobs, firm growth etc.; 
  • Communicating technical information and results effectively with presentations, reports and data visualizations; 
  • Supervising data analysts/interns hired to support with predictive analysis/machine learning;
  • Building data systems for large-scale data projects

Required Technical Qualifications

  • Master’s / PhD degree in Computer Science/Statistics/Mathematics/Economics/other STEM fields, with a minimum of 2 years of professional experience in a data science role.
  • Proficiency in Python is mandatory. Additional knowledge of other statistical software such as R/STATA will be considered.
  • Experience in building, testing and executing machine learning algorithms for Classification, Regression and Clustering problems. Additionally, experience in feature engineering and feature selection using dimensionality reduction techniques (Principal Component Analysis & Singular Value Decomposition).
  • Familiarity with SQL/Hadoop/Hive for running analyses on large datasets.
  • Interest in/experience in working with administrative data and solving public policy challenges using data.

Preferred Technical Qualifications

  • Domain expertise/experience in the development sector, health or related fields 
  • Experience in full stack data science projects and building, testing and implementing data science products

Other qualifications & skills:

  • Exceptional communication skills, including writing, conversing and presenting clearly in English
  • Ability to think deeply and innovatively about data science solutions in government settings/for sustainability
  • Ability to lead projects and collaborate with different stakeholders from varied backgrounds and areas of expertise
  • Self-motivated, ability to problem solve and to work with minimal supervision and meet deadlines while conducting high quality work
  • Attention to detail and precision
  • Initiative, resilience and flexibility in adapting to changing contexts

About the Organization

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of 194 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty. J-PAL South Asia, based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in India, leads J-PAL’s work in the South Asia region. J-PAL South Asia conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. Over more than ten years of existence, J-PAL South Asia has conducted 193 ongoing and completed randomized evaluations.

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select Research Scientist (Data)- IDEA Lab- J-PAL South Asia and include resume, cover letter, transcripts, and two recommendation letters. Note that applications with incomplete submissions will not be considered.

You are able to submit your application before your references complete their recommendation letters; however, you must include their contact information before submitting your application. Given the volume of applications received, only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview.

Interested candidates can reach out to [email protected] with their CV and cover letter or should apply through the portal.