Work type



Capability Area

Research and Survey

Graduate Research Assistant - Center for Excellence in Survey Research

Apply now Job no: 495444 Work type: Intermittent Location: Bethesda, MD Capability Area: Center for Excellence in Survey Research


NORC at the University of Chicago is seeking a qualified Graduate Research Assistant to support research efforts in our Chicago or Bethesda office.


The Center for Excellence in Survey Research (CESR) assists NORC in remaining a leader in methodological innovations in survey research.

CESR helps identify and share best practices—both internally and externally—across the continuum of research design and implementation at NORC. To accomplish its mission, the Center conducts timely, state-of-the-art statistical and methodological research on sample and survey design and estimation methods, as well as the analysis of data from surveys and information collection activities. The CESR staff partner with colleagues and work on projects housed in every research department at NORC to encourage including the most innovative and industry best practices in our methodologies. External clients benefit from CESR’s team members’ expertise across a range of topics by working directly with CESR or through a multidisciplinary collaboration with NORC’s research departments.


This individual will gain data science experience working on a project dedicated to Harnessing the Data Revolution, one of the National Science Foundation’s 10 Big Ideas. More specifically, the Graduate Research Assistant will help an interdisciplinary team of researchers throughout the United States to develop an open and integrated platform—the synthetic biology knowledge system (SBKS)—that leverages existing data repositories and publications to create a single interface that transforms the way researchers access synthetic biology information. New methods based upon machine learning will be developed to automatically curate data in various repositories and information extracted from publications; an intuitive, natural-language-based interface will be implemented for users to easily access SBKS contents. Additionally, as ethics is necessarily a part of synthetic biology research, data from text sources related to ethical concerns in synthetic biology will also be incorporated to inform researchers about ethical debates relevant to their search queries. This SBKS will accelerate discovery and innovation by enabling researchers to learn from others’ past experiences and to maximize the productivity of valuable experimental time. This research thus provides the potential for transformative research outcomes in the field of synthetic biology by leveraging data science to improve the field’s epistemic culture.

Note: Knowledge of synthetic biology is not required!


  • Conduct literature reviews
  • Use natural language processing/text mining (1) to identify known ethical debates associated with synthetic biology research, (2) to anticipate emergent issues, and (3) to link this information to other data within the proposed SBKS
  • Assist with other NLP components of the project, if necessary
  • Prepare memos, tables, and graphs based on findings
  • Masters' degree in statistics, biostatistics, or quantitative social science; PhD preferred.
  • Background or interest in social policy research.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including an ability to translate research findings for a policy audience.
  • Ability to work well in teams.
  • Knowledge and experience with statistical programming (desirable).
  • Knowledge and/or experience in one or more of the following areas: Statistical analysis, modeling, matching, small area estimation, Bayesian analysis; Data mining, data analytics, "Big Data," administrative data linkage; Imputation, survey research methodology (including survey paradata and total survey error), data disclosure avoidance.

NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, our teams have conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with us to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.


For over 75 years, NORC has evolved in many ways, moving the needle with research methods, technical applications and groundbreaking research findings. But our tradition of excellence, passion for innovation, and commitment to collegiality have remained constant components of who we are as a brand, and who each of us is as a member of the NORC team. With world-class benefits, a business casual environment, and an emphasis on continuous learning, NORC is a place where people join for the stellar research and analysis work for which we’re known, and stay for the relationships they form with their colleagues who take pride in the impact their work is making on a global scale.


NORC is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer that values and actively seeks diversity in the workforce. NORC evaluates qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other legally- protected characteristics.


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