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Research Analyst – Economist, Applied Mathematician, or Statistician

The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) is an independent, non-profit, federally-funded research and development center that provides objective analyses to the Department of Defense and other federal government agencies. Researchers in IDA’s Human Capital Group (HCG) support senior defense leaders by applying knowledge and methods from economics, statistics, data science, psychology, and sociology to a broad range of national security policy issues. As needed, we apply proven tools to new problems and data, develop new models, and generate new theory.

Recent examples of our work:
  • Training machine learning models to predict individual’s career events using a rich set of administrative personnel records
  • Estimating causal effects of staffing levels and characteristics on mission effectiveness
  • Designing and conducting a multi-year personnel retention experiment impacting thousands of service members
  • Designing a trial of alcohol market interventions for use on military bases to learn whether such intervention can prevent harmful behaviors associated with alcohol misuse
  • Architecting a collaborative data-hosting analytic platform to facilitate timely and secure analysis of sensitive Department of Defense information assets across a diverse community of users
  • Exploring alternative organizational structures and delivery methods for educating and training military medical personnel, in order to reduce costs and streamline management
  • Identifying opportunities to transfer positions among active and reserve military personnel, federal civilians, and contractors in order to reduce costs and concentrate military personnel in more operational (vs. administrative) positions

HCG researchers work on a variety of projects. For each project, researchers are responsible for choosing and using the right tool, whether a familiar standby or a cutting-edge technique. When the right tool is new to us, we learn it. When the right tool doesn't yet exist, we create it (see We take pride in the high caliber and timeliness of our analyses, our independent thinking, and our objective results. We value strong teamwork and communication skills.

We are growing our team of quantitative researchers, primarily in the areas of (A) structural counterfactual analyses, (B) applied econometrics, and (C) machine learning and other data science skills. 

  • Conceptualize and write computational code for quantitative research
  • Write quantitative research papers
  • Create and give presentations of research methods and results
  • Debate research methods with other experts
  • Supervise and mentor junior researchers (e.g. research assistants)
  • Explain research methods, obstacles, and results to non-experts

  • Ph.D. in Economics, Statistics, Applied Mathematics, Systems Engineering, Management Science, Operations Research, Physics, or a related field is required
  • Proficiency with Python, R, or Julia is required
  • Demonstrated research excellence and a strong interest in applied research is required
  • Prior experience with causal estimation is required
  • Prior experience with structural estimation, dynamic programming, computational economics, or analogous methods is preferred
  • Experience with machine learning techniques and large data sets is preferred
  • Ability to relocate to the Washington, DC area and work on-site at IDA's headquarters in Alexandria, VA (as needed) is required
  • Experience in DoD or other branches of government is preferred
  • Successful completion of a criminal background check is required.

Please include the following required documents before submitting your application:
  • CV
  • Writing sample 
  • Cover letter
  • Transcripts (unofficial)
  • At least two letters of recommendation (required for applicants who have completed their PhD within the last three years; optional for others)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews will be held by Zoom.
U.S. Citizenship is required
Ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance is required
Equal Opportunity Employer