Senior Researcher

The Happier Lives Institute conducts research into the most cost-effective, evidence-based ways to increase happiness. We then share what we’ve found with donors and decision-makers so they can take action. 

Basic information

Application deadline: 23 May 2022 (extended)

Salary: £40,000-£65,000 (possibly higher for an exceptional  candidate)

Hours: Full-time (flexible)

Location: Remote

The ideal candidate will be able to participate in regular meetings in the following timezones:  UTC (GMT – London), UTC-5 (EST – New York) and UTC-7 (CST – Colorado)

About us

The Happier Lives Institute connects donors, researchers, and policymakers with the most cost-effective opportunities to increase global wellbeing. Using the latest subjective wellbeing data, we identify the problems that matter most to people and find evidence-based ways to solve them.

The role

The Senior Researcher will lead and grow our team of quantitative researchers to identify the most cost-effective interventions for increasing subjective wellbeing. Our current priorities for further analysis are deworming treatments, poverty alleviation programmes, digital mental health interventions, and the regulation of air quality and lead. The team currently consists of two full-time research analysts but we plan to expand the team in the coming years. One of our team members has written about the life of an HLI researcher here.

Responsibilities

Research (approx. 60%)

  • Conduct literature reviews to identify the most cost-effective interventions and policies for increasing subjective wellbeing. Our current focus is on  micro-interventions in low-income countries, but our scope is likely to expand in the future.
    • Example: See our comparison of cash transfers and psychotherapy.
  • Construct cost-effectiveness models using Monte Carlo simulations and other computational methods to account for uncertainty.
    • Example: See our report on estimating moral weights.
  • Create and refine methods to improve the quality of our cost-effectiveness analyses.
    • Examples: Explicitly incorporate philosophical views, adjust effects due to bias, and convert between different types of wellbeing measures.
  • Horizon-scan for promising interventions by keeping up with the latest literature, attending relevant events, talking regularly with domain experts, and thinking critically about mechanisms for bringing about positive change.
    • Example: See our report on pain.
  • In some cases, there may be the opportunity to submit papers for publication in academic journals.
    • Example: See our cashs transfers meta-analysis in Nature Human Behaviour.

Management and coaching (approx. 30%)

  • Manage and coach our team of quantitative researchers.
  • Set and achieve quarterly objectives for the team.
  • Ensure that research projects are finished on time, on budget, and meet our high standards of quality and rigour.
  • Help to develop our research agenda by identifying and prioritising potential research projects.

Outreach (approx. 10%)

  • Support the Communications Manager with promoting our research by writing blogs, appearing on podcasts, and speaking at events as required.
  • Build a professional network of  researchers, philanthropists, and policymakers who support our mission.

Required skills and experience

  • Dedication to conducting high quality, impactful research and working to improve global wellbeing.
  • A degree in a quantitative subject such as economics, statistics, or mathematics (or another relevant social science subject).
  • At least four years of relevant postgraduate research experience (which can include advanced degrees).
  • Experience of supervising the work of other researchers.
  • Excellent analytical skills and comfort working with quantitative methods and models.
  • High proficiency in the evaluation and synthesis of empirical research.
  • Strong statistical skills, which include proficiency with frequentist modelling techniques (general linear models and multilevel models), a good understanding of the assumptions underlying these models, and the ability to interpret these models correctly.
  • Ability to work in R (or other coding languages such as MatLab, Python, Julia, or Stata).
  • Excellent communication skills, particularly in writing, including the ability to clearly describe your reasoning, findings, and uncertainty.

Desired skills and experience

We don’t expect you to have all the skills and experience on this list. Plus, we want you to learn new skills in this role. If you are on the fence, please err on the side of applying.

  • Comfort with meta-analytic methods such as extracting data from studies, standardising effect sizes, formally appraising quality of evidence, and performing moderator analyses.
  • Bayesian modelling, prior selection, and interpretation.
  • Uncertainty propagation (Monte Carlo simulations) and sensitivity analysis.
  • Understanding of psychometrics, such as validation and mathematical modelling of latent variables and Item Response Theory.
  • Experience collaborating on research projects  in GitHub or GitLab.
  • R Markdown (or equivalent code-to-report technology).
  • Strong data visualisation skills.
  • Familiarity with the wellbeing science literature.

What we offer

  • Join a team of smart and dedicated researchers to make progress on some of the most pressing research questions for increasing global wellbeing (see our research agenda).
  • Intellectual challenge and a chance to learn and grow in an interdisciplinary setting.
  • Connect with a growing network of wellbeing researchers and advocates.
  • Set your own working hours as long as you complete your work in a timely manner and are available for scheduled meetings (full time is considered to be 35 hours/week).
  • Work from wherever you like (we are a fully remote team based mainly in the UK and US).
  • 25 paid days of annual leave + 8 national holidays.
  • 10% of your time (3.5 hours a week) for personal development.
  • An opportunity for travel to conferences and team retreats.
  • A free HLI t-shirt!

How to apply

Please submit your application via this link, where you will be asked to include your CV and respond to the following questions:

  • What interests you most about this position?
  • Is there anything we should know about you that would make you an ideal candidate (that’s not already included on your CV)?
  • Please describe your previous experience of supervising the work of other researchers.

Selected applicants will be invited to complete a series of work tasks and interviews.

Please contact hello@happierlivesinstitute.org if you have any questions.

We strongly encourage candidates of all backgrounds and identities to apply to this role. HLI is committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and supportive community where you feel happy, valued, and do your best work.

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