American Institutes for Research

Principal Data Scientist

Job Location US-DC
Job ID
Job Location
United States
Data Sciences


The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research towards improving people’s lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged. Much of this work informs the development and implementation of policies that require and produce significant quantities of diverse data. Data scientists at AIR use a blend of technology skills and theory to contribute to cutting-edge research design, implementation, and capacity building. Our team promotes data scientists’ career development through interdisciplinary collaboration, training opportunities, a community of practice, mentorship and managerial responsibilities, and the opportunity to work on meaningful projects spanning several domains, including education, public health, workforce, science and innovation policy, criminal justice, and housing. We balance contemporary agile development with rigorous approaches to research design, all the while remaining outcomes-driven and aligned to our clients’ missions and goals.

This position is located within AIR’s Survey and Data Sciences (SDS) group, which supports the design, collection, analysis, and dissemination of statistics that are objective, accurate, and timely.


• Collaborate with researchers from a variety of disciplines and fields to acquire, process, and understand data that clients need to make better decisions.
• Design, validate, and visualize data-driven models, including machine learning approaches, to understand social and behavioral phenomena in support of AIR’s mission to improve education, health and the workforce
• Creatively and independently explore new approaches to behavioral and social science research and evaluation that will improve peoples’ lives
• Collect, parse and analyze text and other data from websites and other sources using APIs and custom code
• Create structured datasets from large, unstructured data that describe peoples’ activities, behavior, social networks and communication, as well as other social phenomena
• Support and collaborate with experts in a variety of disciplines and fields to pioneer new approaches to research by integrating diverse data sources.
• Develop new or implement existing algorithms for record linkage across disparate datasets
• Use R, Python and other programming languages and analytic tools to develop models that predict, describe and explain social behavior and outcomes
• Analyze and interpret experimental data
• Communicate findings to project teams and other technical and non-technical collaborators
• Comprehensively document all work to support an open research community
• Present work outputs using static and dynamic visualization, slide decks, and written deliverables
• Author academic/white papers

The Senior Data Scientist will also be called upon to:
• Lead the efforts to secure external funds from federal, state, local and private sources to support the Center’s research, development, and service programs
• Manage project budgets and personnel
• Represent AIR in the community and various academic and policy arenas
• Proactively engage in developing and implementing AIR’s quality assurance processes
• Develop and train others on best practices for data processing, analytics, and documentation methodology and results


• An M.S. or Ph.D. from a statistics, mathematics, computer science, computational social science or operations research program is preferred. Advanced degrees from other programs will also be considered, provided candidates have significant statistical and computational experience and skills.
• Work experience in STEM or social science research field is a plus
• 15+ years of relevant work experience compiling and analyzing complex, high volume, high dimensional datasets for economics or other social science research
• 15+ years of experience using R, Perl, Python, Java, or other languages appropriate for large scale data analysis
• Extensive experience with relational databases, SQL, and/or NoSQL databases
• Sufficient experience with machine learning techniques to be able direct and implement such tasks and/or projects in support of AIR’s mission for social good
• Ability to communicate complex quantitative analysis in a clear, precise, and actionable manner to non-technical audiences, management and experts in non-data fields.
• Strong organizational and interpersonal skills



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