American Institutes for Research

Principal Communication Researcher

Job ID
United States
Communications/Marketing/Public Relations


The American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations founded more than 60 years ago, conducts and applies the best behavioral and social science research to improve people’s lives, especially the disadvantaged.

Within AIR’s Policy, Practice, and Systems Change (PP&SC) Service Area, we look to promote health (physical, social, emotional and mental); prevent illness, injury, and violence; and provide better and more efficient health care. Our work in health and social services actively engages the patient and consumer, the young person and family members in shaping the policies and services that affect them. At the domestic national, state, and local levels and internationally, PP&SC works with a variety of systems: health, mental health, public health, education, juvenile justice, child welfare, housing, and homelessness. We use data to inform and evaluate policies and strategies. We also foster collaboration among stakeholders, including agencies and consumers, to improve people’s lives, especially the disadvantaged, in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.

AIR is seeking a Principal Communication Researcher with the background and experience to build and lead efforts both domestically and internationally in communication and behavior change research and evaluation, in the areas of health and well-being. This position will be responsible for staff and projects working on large-scale communication and behavior-change research projects based on multi-method qualitative and quantitative social science methods. Critical to the international research efforts will be the ability to identify and mobilize in-country researchers to assist in conducting formative and evaluative research. Also critical is the proven ability to design formative research that will be informative to and lead the selection of interventions and applications to change behaviors toward better health and well-being.


• Lead in developing a future vision for research and capacity building in health and development issues, particularly around the use of communication and behavior-change evidenced-based methods.
• Lead current projects and pursue new efforts to both conduct research and to work with AIR staff, partners, and funding agencies to apply the research and take proven programs to scale.
• Design and conduct strategic and effective research and evaluation plans and tools to support communication activities in PP&SC.
• Develop research protocols, screeners, Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) applications; conduct communication research through focus groups, In-depth Interviews, surveys, etc.
• Design and conduct or direct formative research activities to describe segmented audiences and test messages and concepts, including using new online research tools to conduct formative research and usability studies.
• Based on health communication, behavior change, and/or social marketing theory, design and implement process and outcome evaluation to guide campaigns and communication activities across various projects and in various communication channels.
• Identify and design metrics and data collection efforts to evaluate the process and impact of multi-channel (including digital) communication activities.
• Visit government agencies and foundations to understand their interests and to forge future direction.
• Identify key partners useful in conducting research.
• Lead teams in conceptualizing and writing proposals.
• Meet with and assist domestic and international state and local agencies to apply the research to improve their policies and practices.
• Give presentations at national conferences.
• Publish articles and monographs.
• Work with states to facilitate cross agency collaboration and taking programs and strategies to scale in unfunded communities.


• PhD or MD with emphasis on communication and behavior-change research and application to improve health and well-being, including international experience
• Minimum of 10+ years of experience to both conduct and apply research, and create change in organizational policies and practices to strengthen family serving systems, including health, mental health, education, child welfare, and justice agencies
• Knowledgeable about current research in effective communication strategies to improve positive health behaviors across varied communication channels, including social media.
• Ability to utilize communication, behavior change, and social marketing theories to guide research design.
• Skills in applied research: research design, sampling, and statistical analyses
• Current journal publications.
• Demonstrated leadership and entrepreneurial experience to conceptualize a vision and develop strategies to build new bodies of work.
• Track record of successful business development, including proposal development, for major federal agencies and foundations.
• Proven leadership and interpersonal skills to lead teams.
• Good skills in project-based technologies that support the work.
• Availability and flexibility to travel nationally.



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