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Research Associate - Quantitative Analysis

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 a 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 does not 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. Individuals who have served as RAs at IDA have gone on to PhD studies, entered government service, or launched successful careers in industry.
  • Directly contribute to IDA research efforts as members of research teams led by IDA Research Staff Members
  • Perform information gathering, data cleaning and manipulation, statistical and econometric analysis, and drafting of reports and presentations
  • Communicate clearly and contribute effectively to solving problems on a team
  • Adapt to a wide range of complex research questions
  • Exercise independent judgment, conscientiousness, and creativity
  • Occasionally travel with research teams to U.S. government or U.S. security partner field locations

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in economics, statistics, operations research, mathematics, physics, computer science, data science, or related disciplines with a strong foundation in statistics and/or applied mathematics. Individuals with a doctoral degree will not be considered for this opportunity, and are encouraged to apply for other positions at IDA
  • Experience with programming languages or statistical software used in research (e.g., Python, R, Julia, Stata, MATLAB, C, Java, etc.)
  • Astute attention to detail
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
Additional Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience with high-throughput or distributed computing is a plus
  • Experience as a research assistant in an academic or policy research setting is a plus
  • Experience or coursework in database management, machine learning, econometrics, or Bayesian statistics is a plus
  • Prior work experience in or familiarity with the military, government, or nongovernmental organizations performing national security related work is a plus
Applicants must submit
  • A cover letter detailing how their skills and experiences align with the requirements
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • A writing sample and/or code sample
  • Professional or academic letters of reference

Why work at IDA?
  • Competitive salary and benefits, including diverse health insurance options, generous 11% contribution to retirement, 6 weeks 100% paid parental leave, 20 days paid time off plus 11 Federal holidays, and relocation reimbursement.
  • Mission-oriented work at a non-profit that supports and protects our Nation’s warfighters; as a non-profit, IDA employees are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSFL).
  • Organization-wide commitment to diversity in the workplace and providing a working environment free from discrimination, by fostering a culture of active citizenship and implementing data-driven processes of continuous feedback and learning.
  • Professional development including tuition reimbursement, internal and external trainings, and funding for researcher-pitched projects and publications.
  • A strong employee and corporate culture of work-life balance, including commitment to average 40-hour work weeks through flex time, telework options, and expectation of communication only during core business hours.
  • Located in Alexandria’s high-tech corridor, IDA’s brand new Potomac Yard facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, workspaces and amenities, including a cafeteria, grab-n-go cafe, and gym.
  • Easy access to local dining and shopping, the Potomac Yard Metro stop (opening Fall 2022), and the Potomac Yard DASH bus stop. Employer contributes $280/month (IRS max) to commuter benefits.

U.S. Citizenship is required

Ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance is required

IDA is an equal opportunity employer committed to providing a fair recruiting process and working environment free from discrimination. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. Click here to learn more about IDA's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.