Research Associate (Groundwater Management)
J-PAL South Asia at the Institute for Financial Management and Research seeks a Research Associate in Groundwater Management starting in October 2018 – Feb 2019, with an option to extend as funding allows. 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in an experimental research project that aims to 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 strategies to be tested will incentivize farmers to directly reduce groundwater utilization through a payments-for-environmental-services model, and to take up Microirrigation Systems in order to combat depletion and salinity.
The investigators on this project are Dr. Nick Hagerty, Dr. Ariel Zucker, and Professor Esther Duflo. The position will be based in J-PAL’s office in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – alongside other J-PAL policy and research staff – and will require frequent travel to the field. The position is designed to help the selected candidate develop strong project management, communication, and analytical skills.
We are looking for a commitment period of 4 months for this position, with an opportunity to extend into a longer-term position.
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 compliance with data collection and security protocols.
- 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 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 a data analysis package or programming language.
- 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.
- Strong interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to maintain relationships with external organizations.
- Conversational skills in both Hindi and Gujarati.
Note on Work Authorizations: Candidates must have work authorization to work in India. This covers citizens of India, Nepal, or Bhutan, and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a network of affiliated professors around the world who are united by their use of randomized evaluations to answer questions critical to poverty alleviation. J-PAL’s headquarters is a center within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with regional offices around the world hosted by local universities. J-PAL South Asia was established in August 2007, in order to expand J-PAL’s research and policy outreach in South Asia.
How to Apply
- Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. Please select the Type 1 position "Research Associate in Groundwater Management - J-PAL South Asia" and include a CV, transcripts, 1-2 letters of recommendation, and a brief cover letter or statement of purpose.
- Send an email to Ariel Zucker at
marking a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org following these instructions exactly:
- In the subject line: Put your full name, first (given) name followed by last (family) name.
- Attachments: Please attach ONLY your CV and Cover Letter.
- In the email body: Copy exactly the following position line: “Research Associate in Groundwater Management - J-PAL South Asia”.
Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for a written exam and interview(s). Only candidates who successfully complete this instance will be contacted with an offer.
It is highly recommended that you apply as soon as possible as we are looking to hire immediately. However, we may continue to consider applications as long as this position is posted online. Candidates should be available to begin work during October, or within two weeks of applying.