Research Associate - Ground Water Management Project - J-PAL South Asia

J-PAL South Asia
  • India
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Other advanced degree
Start Date (Earliest):
Language Requirement:
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
Length of Commitment:
One year

Job Framework:

The Research Vertical at J-PAL South Asia delivers end to end management support to randomized evaluations designed and conducted by J-PAL researchers. This support includes personalized guidance in all phases of evaluations, including scoping, planning, data collection, implementation, data management and processing, and reporting. The vertical acts as a clearing house for information and has expertise in evaluation design, management and administration: to ensure that every aspect of an evaluation meets the highest quality standards. The Research Associates will work closely with the Research Managers, Senior Managers and Associate Director, Research to drive the growth and development of the Research Vertical, relating to all things evaluations, data, compliance and data.

The ideal candidate will successfully manage all aspects of a cutting edge research idea; will thrive in a learning rich, fast-paced, deadline oriented yet thoughtful environment that is research-focused.

Job Details

Project Summary

The Groundwater Management seeks a Research Associate starting in April 2021 – July 2022, with an option to extend. The position offers an opportunity to gain first-hand field management experience in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research. The Research Associate will join a team of researchers from the Montana State University (MSU) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) working with the Agha Khan Rural Support Programme, India (AKRSP-I) to implement an experiment and generate policy-relevant evidence to improve groundwater management practices in coastal Gujarat and across India. Results of this project will be used by partner organizations to guide the future direction of their activities, and will provide critical evidence on important debates in water management policy.

The RA will manage the implementation and evaluation of an outreach program that employs new strategies to promote groundwater conservation. Groundwater depletion is a serious problem across many parts of India, and in some coastal areas it brings the additional problem of seawater ingress. Because groundwater is a common-pool resource shared by all with access to an aquifer, conservation measures are disincentivised: their costs are borne only by the individual, while the benefits are shared more broadly. Strategies that allow farmers to internalize the benefits of their conservation actions on others may therefore increase investment in these technologies, reversing this disincentive. The key strategy to be tested will incentivize farmers to directly reduce groundwater utilization through a payments-for-environmental-services model.

The investigators on this project are Professors Nick Hagerty and Ariel Zucker. The position will be based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – along with other J-PAL policy and research staff on other projects– and will require frequent travel to the field (primarily in Surendranagar district but potentially other districts as well). The position is designed to help the selected candidate develop strong project management, communication, and analytical skills.

We are ideally looking for a commitment period of 15 months for this position (from April 2021 to July 2022).

Key Responsibilities

The Research Associate will work closely with the Principal Investigators, act as a liaison between them and partner organizations, and lead field operations to implement and evaluate innovative strategies to improve groundwater conservation. More specifically, the Research Associate will:

  • Interact closely with several partner organizations, at both senior and field levels, to develop implementation plans and ensure alignment between research objectives and ground-level realities.
  • Recruit, train, and supervise teams of field-based surveyors, along with other necessary staff including project assistants and field managers.
  • Design survey questionnaires and oversee data collection, ensuring it meets the highest standards of quality.
  • Create and maintain records, clean data, and perform preliminary data analysis.
  • Ensure that the project complies with IRB and JPAL data collection and security protocols with the help of the Research Manager (RM)
  • Prepare documents and give presentations for partner organizations and funding agencies.
  • Coordinate with the Administrative and Finance team on contracts and payments.
  • Perform other duties as required to further these research projects.
  • Report and discuss with the PIs and RM on all of the above-mentioned activities on a regular basis. 



  • Bachelor’s or Master’s in economics, public policy, international development, environmental science, agriculture, engineering, or related fields.
  • Familiarity with randomized controlled trials.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English.
  • Very good oral communication skills in either Hindi or Gujarati.
  • Strong quantitative and computer skills, including proficiency in Microsoft Office and either Stata or R.
  • Self-motivation, flexibility, resourcefulness, and ability to work independently, including in rural field locations, while balancing multiple tasks and prioritizing effectively.


  • Interest in finding practical solutions to problems in natural resource management and rural development.
  • Experience collecting data or conducting quantitative research in rural areas.
  • Intermediate to advanced proficiency in Stata and/or R.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to maintain relationships with external organizations.

Conversational skills in both Hindi and Gujarati.

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the RESEARCH job category, then select "Research Associate - Ground Water Management Project - 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.