This is a re-advertisement due to technical issues. Candidates who applied to the initial advertisement are requested to re-send their application to the email address quoted below. Applications sent before 28 November 2016 will be disregarded.

Download the complete Terms of Reference and deliverable here.

Title: Research Scientist

Location of assignment: NYHQ

Language(s) required: English

Travel: Minimal

Duration of contract: 241 days

Section & Unite: Office of Innovation

Consultant reporting to: Senior Advisor, Innovation

Background & Rationale

UNICEF Office of Innovation is hiring a research scientist to join our Science Team. We are looking for motivated interdisciplinary researchers in data science related fields (computer science, applied mathematics or physics) and a deep interest in applying research towards humanitarian and development work.

UNICEF Office of Innovation combines several disciplines such as network science, natural language processing, data mining, machine learning, remote sensing, artificial intelligence or complex systems in research lines such as human dynamics, epidemiology, urbanization, migration or influence dynamics.

Candidates should expect to pursue research leading to both high level scientific publications and operational tools for UNICEF. Current lines of work range from epidemic modelling and response in emergencies such as Ebola and Zika, understanding urban dynamics and migration resilience in crisis such as the Syrian refugees, preparedness and early warning for natural hazards such as El Niño or understanding how children rights get embedded into legal and corporate policies. Current data sources include mobility and communication networks, social media and news, satellite images, financial and economic data, weather and environmental data along with a wide variety of traditional humanitarian and development indicators.

The Science Team interacts with world class scientists, on the ground responders and private sector data holders and tech leaders to push the Data Science agenda towards the problems that affect the most vulnerable children. Breakthroughs and working methodologies  are streamlined to a dedicated Development Team to scale into operational tools that can make a real impact.

UNICEF Office of Innovation functions like a collection of startups in early-stage in which promising new technologies (e.g. data science, SMS technologies, UAVs, blockchain) are identified that have potential to impact UNICEF core operations (e.g. education, health, disaster response). Through our network of technology partners, UNICEF country offices and academic institutions, we construct pilots to quickly determine potential impact. The Office of Innovation provides support to UNICEF’s 135 country offices and consists of a flat team of technologists, designers, programmers, researchers and communication specialists. Requests for collaboration, advice and support are fielded from UNICEF programmes, other parts of the UN system and the humanitarian technology ecosystem.


UNICEF is seeking to hire a research scientist to be a key member of the Research Team of the Office of Innovation. The ideal candidate will have a strong research record and a high desire to apply her/his skills to make a difference in real world problems affecting the most vulnerable. Candidates are expected to have a high capacity to conduct and push research forward as well as to coordinate and communicate on specific projects with and to very diverse groups of people.

The candidate will be expected to be the main driver of 2 major research projects per year within the Science Team.

For doing so, the candidate will be expected to interact and collaborate with different partners from the UN, academia and the private sector, helping in strengthening and expanding the collaboration network.

Expected results: (measurable results)

  • Publication of high quality scientific papers submitted to first tier journals showcasing application of data science to solving problems affecting children;
  • Development of data compilation and clean working code to allow for replication of methodologies;
  • Development of a visualization/interaction prototype supporting the scientific work;
  • Raising the profile of scientific approaches for UNICEF through internal and external communications
  • Increased investments from the Innovation Fund to support data science-related pilot projects

Key competences, technical background, and experience required Deadline

  • Strong scientific background: PhD or Masters (or completing PhD) in Data Science related field such as computer science, applied mathematics, information technology, physics or software engineering.
  • Experience in two or more of the following (or strongly related to them): network analysis, complex systems, remote sensing, machine learning, deep learning, remote sensing, natural language processing, optimization or data mining.
  • Fair Data Analysis experience: able to showcase some relevant scientific publications or similar work; and experience with analytical tools and languages such as R, Python, shell scripting.
  • Some experience in working with mapping technologies and spatial data (e.g. shapefiles, GIS)
  • Some development experience, with special interest on web based applications (e.g. HTML5, Javascript, R flexdashboard…) and data visualization libraries (e.g. D3.js)
  • Familiarity with data gathering acquisition e.g. web scraping, APIs, and data cleaning and preparation.
  • Ability to work in a team, in a diverse work environment and on several projects in parallel.
  • Ability to communicate findings and complex ideas verbally and in writing to a wide range of audiences. Good writing skills.
  • Fluency in English
  • Strong social skills and a good sense of humour.


Applicants are requested to send their submissions to  with subject line: RESEARCH SCIENTIST by 14 December 2016, 5:00pm EST.

Applications must include:
Cover letter
P-11 form
2 selected scientific publications of the applicant portfolio with a small description of why they were selected for this application
Link to google scholar profile, github profile, medium or blog site (if available)
Indicate where you heard about this advertisement

Please indicate your ability, availability and daily/monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above.  Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered.

Download the P11 form here

Download the complete Terms of Reference and the full list of deliverables here.

Opening Date 22 Nov 2016 Eastern Standard Time
Closing Date 14 Dec 2016 Eastern Standard Time

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