Research Scientist II

Posting Number: #086-21

Position Title: Research Scientist II

Closing Date: Until Filled

Location: Sacramento, CA

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The Public Health Institute (PHI) is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting health, well-being, and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world. As one of the largest and most comprehensive public health organizations in the nation, we are at the forefront of research and innovations to improve the efficacy of public health statewide, nationally, and internationally.

Position Summary

The Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN) is seeking a Research Scientist III.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the initiation, design, development, execution, and implementation of program evaluation and scientific research projects.  This position will lead process, formative, outcome, and impact evaluation studies, data analysis and interpretation for evaluations of policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change and direct nutrition and physical-activity education interventions as well as other evaluation and research projects as required at the Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN).   CWN’s current priority focus areas include increasing access to and consumption of healthier foods, with a focus on fruits and vegetables; decreasing consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages: increasing consumption of water; and increasing physical activity opportunities throughout the day and preventing obesity and chronic diseases.  All CWN work is accomplished using a health equity framework and a culturally tailored approach.

The Research Scientist II will lead and manage a CWN research and evaluation group and will supervise, mentor and coach junior staff regarding their program evaluation and scientific research work as well as regarding the specific importance of ongoing collaboration with programmatic project staff to frame the purpose, scope and management process for evaluations. The Research Scientist II will be responsible for applying advanced knowledge, skills, and experience in the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed) Evaluation Framework, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Framework for program evaluation in public health and other frameworks or best practices. They will complete and oversee qualitative and quantitative data analyses and associated reporting.

The Research Scientist II will be responsible for building ongoing relationships with external organizations and agencies; designing research and evaluation methodologies and data collection protocols; and creating and managing and analyzing data sets. The position will also participate in drafting scientific publications, reports and other summary materials, policy briefs, and presentations. The Research Scientist II will lead grant writing and project management activities as well as providing support to other team activities as needed.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

  • Provides managerial and technical leadership for CWN qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation projects that include formative, process, outcome, and impact evaluations. Supervises, mentors and coaches junior staff. Works closely with program staff to understand and meet the needs of the programs and clients, and, to collaborate on establishing the basis for the various evaluation tasks, including clarifying the primary intended uses and other intended uses for the findings, identifying key evaluation questions, determining methods for data collection and analysis, clarifying resources needed to answer evaluation questions, and identifying how to support the primary use of the findings.
  • Conducts multiple data analysis projects within a single period of performance.
  • Communicates and establishes effective working relationships with diverse groups and interacts effectively with co-workers, clients, personnel in partner agencies, community members, and other external stakeholders.
  • Develops methodology and project plans and outlines research procedures to be followed.
  • Plans schedule according to a variety of methods to be used, availability and quantity of resources, and number of subordinate personnel assigned to participate in project.
  • Conducts research and evaluations and collects, records, analyzes, and interprets data and findings.
  • Prepares and presents presentations of evaluation and scientific findings before professional and lay audiences.
  • Prepares reports of completed projects for publication.
  • Proposes research and evaluation development opportunities. Leads writing of grant applications.
  • Develops project plans and scopes of work, budgeting, and time management assignments grounded in strategic and operation considerations.
  • Develops and maintains a network of specialized research and evaluation consultants (research design, sampling, data collection, data analysis) available to PHI investigators for proposal development and actual research and evaluation.
  • Identifies and recruits new research and evaluation investigators whose interests and capabilities are consistent with a strategic plan for development of research and evaluation at CWN.
  • Manages HR issues in coordination with deputy director, research and evaluation director, and/or program director.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master of Science in a public health or social/behavioral science field.
  • Five years of relevant program evaluation and research experience evaluating nutrition or other public health programs.
  • Five years demonstrated project management, staff recruiting, training and management experience, as well as demonstrated skills in project planning, drafting scopes of work and budgets.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of program evaluation methods and design for food security, healthy eating, and physical activity interventions and PSE strategies.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Experience in both strategic and tactical planning.
  • Demonstrated abilities in the independent development of program evaluation plans and research questions, selecting evaluation designs, and drafting proposals for qualitative and quantitative research.
  • Experience with the selection, adaption, and development of qualitative evaluation measures and with qualitative data collection.
  • Demonstrated ability to write successful grant applications.
  • Experience in consulting role helpful.
  • Strong analytical, scientific reasoning, and mathematical skills.
  • Competence in at least one of the following preferred: R, SPSS, SAS.
  • History of publication in peer-review journals and/or program evaluation reports or studies.
  • strong presentation skills with ability to present research and evaluation findings at scientific conferences.
  • Experience in working successfully with federal, state and local government organizations and programs (e.g., USDA, CDC, departments of public health) and scientific research organizations.
  • A thorough knowledge of SNAP-Ed program needs, framework and guidance and USDA reporting requirements is required to develop applicable and appropriate data collection systems, as well as to ensure a robust ability to collaborate with program staff on projects and assess and meet client needs.
  • Strong organizational skills, with ability to meet deadlines, both prescribed and self-imposed.

Important Information

  • This position is based in Sacramento, California. Currently, CWN’s physical office location is closed to guard our staff against potential COVID-19 exposure. Remote workers will be considered for this position.

The Public Health Institute is committed to a policy that provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, pregnancy, medical condition including genetic characteristics, physical or mental disability, veteran status, gender identification and expression, sexual orientation, and to make all employment decisions so as to further this principle of equal employment opportunity. To this end, the PHI will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, pregnancy, medical condition including genetic characteristics, physical or mental disability, veteran status, gender identification and expression, sexual orientation, and will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are offered employment and employees are treated during employment without regard to these characteristics.

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