Job opportunity: Instructional Designer - UN Data Innovation Lab
Innovation Product Content Strategist, Global Innovation Centre

Title: Lead Research Scientist
Location of assignment: NYHQ
Languages required: English
Travel: Travel anticipated, destination(s) TBC
Duration of Contract: 11.5 months
Section & Unit: Global Innovation Centre
Consultant reporting to: Senior Advisors, Innovation

Background & Rationale

UNICEF’s Innovation team in New York helps UNICEF’s 135+ Country Offices strengthen programs on the ground using innovative approaches and technologies.  Innovation at UNICEF means doing things new or different that adds value to achieving results for the most vulnerable children.   This means, concretely, researching and understanding strengths, vulnerabilities and environmental factors for children and their families, and therefore translating ideas, technologies, and partnerships into products, services that bring about better, more equitable results for children.

The Big Data Project is looking to explore and leverage the possibilities of New Data analytics within UNICEF, build capacity and position UNICEF and UNICEF challenges in the scientific scope of the Computational Social Science community. New Data analytics refers to research on how new types of real time information such as phone records, postal logs, online social networks or U-Report SMS records can better inform UNICEF programs and emergencies. 


The purpose of this position is to lead the Research function of the Innovation Team in designing strategies, researching methods and developing protocols and tools that leverage the power of New Data analytics on UNICEF problems. The purpose of the Research team is to serve as the Innovation front line on the Data Revolution, leveraging the deep knowledge and expertise already available outside of the UN, conducting leading research on using unconventional data for children focused humanitarian and development work, bringing together UNICEF staff and challenges with leading partners in academia, UN organizations, private sector and Government and building capacity to enable UNICEF to efficiently utilize new data for decision making.

Expected results: (measurable results)

The consultant will lead the Research function, continuing the work done over the last year in the Big Data project, focusing the progress on the following 4 areas:

  1. Data
    1. Identify private sector data sources and support on creating data-focused partnerships.
    2. Create protocols, methods and systems to support an internal platform that provide access to unconventional and real-time data.
  2. Methods
    1. Identify research partners and lead engagement to develop New Data analytics methods.
    2. Research exploration, identifying areas of research of potential high impact.
    3. Publish/present methods and findings on peer reviewed scientific journals and venues.
  3. Tools
    1. Identify cross-cutting challenges that can benefit from New Data analytics solutions.
    2. Create operational tools that take advantage of data and methods to better inform programs and emergencies.
  4. Integration
    1. Coordinate efforts, communicate progress and engage with relevant UNICEF divisions (DRP, PPD, IT, EMOPS) and UN organizations (UN Global Pulse, UNDP)

Duty Station

UNICEF NYHQ. Travel is anticipated. Destination(s)TBC.


  • Extend CDR work portfolio by initiating new project with MNOs/researchers to use phone-based analysis for humanitarian or development work
    Due date: End of month 1
  • Write document on privacy aware protocols to access real-time phone-based aggregations for emergencies
    Due date: End of month 2
  • Submit scientific paper on using network analysis methods to inform epidemic response
    Due date: End of month 3
  • Extend research on using unconventional data sources for piloting socio-economic indicators to developing countries (e.g. Twitter – Indonesia)
    Due date: End of month 4
  • Submit scientific paper on analyzing large collections of text corpora
    Due date: End of month 5
  • Present on progress of the UNICEF-Bloomberg Researcher in Residence collaboration
    Due date: End of month 6
  • Present on progress of tools and internal platform that provide access to unconventional and real-time data
    Due date: End of month 7
  • Attend leading conference on Network Analysis/Computational Social Science
    End date: End of month 8
  • Engage academic/private sector on unconventional data project
    End date: End of month 9
  • Submit paper on using unconventional data sources for piloting socio-economic indicators
    End date: End of month 10
  • Report on Big Data project, experiences, projects, lines of work, progress and future opportunities
    End of date: End of month 11.5
  • Monthly meetings with UN Global Pulse
  • Weekly meetings with other UNICEF Divisions/Sections (DRP, IT, EMOPS…)
    Due date: ongoing

Key competences, technical background, and experience required Deadline

  • Advanced university degree, preferably a PhD in computer science, engineering, statistics, applied mathematics, physics, computational finance, or other related technical fields. Desirable at least 5 years experience in Big Data analytics research.
  • Experience in leading research functions and projects.
  • Competent in data analysis, network analysis, time series analysis or modeling of complex systems.
  • Competency in R or Python, shell scripting and/or awk and specific libraries such as iGraph are a plus
  • Familiarity working with quantitative and qualitative data
  • Experience working with cell phone data or remote sensing data
  • Experienced in working with complex network data to create decision making algorithm and processes
  • UNICEF experience; familiarity with the UN system and UNICEF Data strategy
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people of various professional, academic and cultural backgrounds Knowledge of cell phone networks, Twitter and network analysis
  • Fluency in English, second UN language a plus

How to apply:

Interested and suitable candidates are requested to send their applications with Subject “Lead Research Scientist” to: on or before 5 February 2016.

Applications must include the following:

  1. Cover letter
  2. P11 (
  3. CV
  4. Expected monthly rate (gross rate)

Incomplete applications will be disqualified. Applicants must clearly indicate the position applied for and use this order to name file attachments: Firstname_Lastname followed by document e.g. Gold_Mukasa_CV or Gold_Mukasa_CoverLetter. Only short listed candidates will be contacted.

Visit us at and

UNICEF is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.



Job opportunity: Instructional Designer - UN Data Innovation Lab
Innovation Product Content Strategist, Global Innovation Centre