Job Opportunity: User Experience and Interface Design Lead
Job opportunity: Zika Virus U-Report LAC Regional Engagement Contractor

Title: Junior Data Scientist: Research, Engineering, and Data Science
Location of Assignment: New York, NY
Language(s) required: English (additional languages an asset)
Travel: N/A
Duration of contract: 11.5 months (241 working days)
Section and Unit: Innovation Unit
Consultant reporting to: Co-lead, Innovation Unit

Background & Rationale

The UNICEF Innovation Unit functions like a collection of startups in early-stage. 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 companies, UNICEF country offices and academic institutions, we construct pilots to quickly determine if projects should be continued or discontinued. Innovation Unit in New York provides support to UNICEF’s 190 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.

We seek a talented data scientist with demonstrable expertise either through formal education or professional experience (but ideally a combination of both) to support the rapidly growing area of both demand and expertise in Research, Engineering and Data.


Working under supervision from the Lead Research Scientist, Junior Data Scientist will be expected to incubate and develop data science pilot projects from problem statement to prototype through:

  • applying data science methodologies, including but not limited to network analysis, spatial analysis, natural language processing and image processing using technologies including but not limited to Python (pandas, Seaborn), R (ggplot, igraph), mongoDB and JavaScript.
  • communicating the value of these prototypes to others in order to achieve buy-in and support both internally to UNICEF and externally to other stakeholders including private sector companies.

Particular programmatic areas where the Innovation Unit is, or anticipates to support include emergency response, infectious disease modeling, quantifying access to information and the real-time monitoring of displaced persons.

The ideal candidate will enjoy being part of a dynamic and interdisciplinary team contributing to diverse projects in an environment similar to a start-up. Things you are likely to have an opinion of are; FiveThirtyEight, the best data science blogs and changes to the Twitter API. You probably have a few O’Reilly ebooks, attend local data science meetups and read the odd article on PLoS One.

Experience or aptitude for learning a wide variety of methodologies is particularly valued, we anticipate a need for skills in network science, spatial analysis and natural language processing (particularly in UN languages such as Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Chinese).

Expected results: (measurable results)

  • Survey of potential data sources and existing methodologies
  • Communication with UNICEF country offices to turn problem statements into useful products
  • Identification of new data science methodologies or adaptation of existing methodologies to organisational priorities.
  • Development of natural language processing tools e.g. stemmers, sentiment analysis libraries, taxonomies
  • Documentation of methodologies and lessons learned
  • Strengthen collaboration with technical teams at major private sector research labs / groups (Google X, ARM, Frog Design, Facebook, etc.)
  • Develop operational prototypes

Duty Station


(See the last page for guidance on formulating deliverables)

  • Gain familiarity with current data science projects and processes and country office needs.
  • Identification and documentation of technical knowledge gaps to be addressed.
  • Deadline: End of Month 1


  • Submit literature review of recent scientific papers and case studies using novel scientific methodologies with applications aligned with UNICEF programs
  • Deadline: End of Month 2


  • Identification of three high-impact areas for rapid prototyping through discussions with data science team and with guidance from Innovation Unit colleagues
  • Deadline: End of Month 3


  • Develop pipelines for acquisition and ingestion of data streams including cleaning, normalisation and debugging (computer code).
  • Deadline: End of Month 4


  • Ongoing coordination with country offices to iterate on prototypes and Innovation Unit partnership team to articulate data sharing needs
  • Deadline: End of Month 5


  • Submit interim findings capturing lessons learned: documment immature or unsuitable technologies
  • Deadline: End of Month 6


  • Develop wireframe of web interface for visual display for operationalisation of big data insigihts through collaboration with visual strategy team
  • Deadline: End of Month 7


  • Submit first draft of scientific paper documenting findings
  • Deadline: End of Month 8


  • Iterate on web interface to incorporate internative features incorporating feedback from potential users
  • Deadline: End of Month 9


  • Presentation of UNICEF Innovation technology at conferences and side-events around UN General Assembly
  • Deadline: End of Month 10


  • Present findings on application of data science methodologies for development and humanitarian action to Innovation team for leads
  • Deadline: End of Month 11


  • Documentation and archiving of software tools with GitHub, delivery of final report summarizing findings
  • Deadline: End of Month 11.5

Key competences, technical background, and experience required Deadline

  • University degree in Computer Science, Physical sciences, Statistics or similar.(with a significant component of science/technology/programming)
  • 3-5 years of professional experience in data science research, including experience in end to end data science projects
  • Good knowledge of one data science stack, in order of preference: Python, R, Julia
  • Ability to synthesize technical information and effectively communicate it to a wide range of audiences
  • Interest and aptitude for interdisciplinary and innovative technology
  • Experience working in diverse teams. Startup or business development is desirable
  • Previous UN or other development experience is highly valued.
  • Written and spoken fluency in English is required
  • Written competency in a UN language is an asset

How to Apply

Applicants are requested to send their submissions to with subject line:

Junior Data Scientist: Research, Engineering, and Data Scienceby 1st April 2016, 5:00pm EST.

Applications must include:

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.

NOTE: Files should not exceed 5.0MB limit                       

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.

 [1] P 11 form  can be downloaded from our website at

Job Opportunity: User Experience and Interface Design Lead
Job opportunity: Zika Virus U-Report LAC Regional Engagement Contractor