Open Philanthropy is hiring a Research Analyst or Junior Research Analyst to conduct decision-relevant research with the ultimate goal of reducing the risk of catastrophic biological threats. The Biosecurity and Pandemic Preparedness team has recommended over $150 million in grants to date, in diverse areas including scholarships, think tanks, advocacy, and technical development of biological countermeasures.
About Open Philanthropy
Open Philanthropy is a grantmaker; our mission is to help others as much as we can with the resources available to us. We stress openness to many possibilities and have chosen our focus areas based on importance, neglectedness and tractability. We’re particularly interested in high-risk, high-reward giving that may be too unconventional for other funders. Our current giving areas include global health and development, scientific research, South Asian air quality, farm animal welfare, biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, and potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence.
About the Role
You will report to Research Analyst Damon Binder and assist him with his projects. The majority of this work will be research, specifically targeted at resolving decision-relevant uncertainties in the biosecurity space.
An important early project (building on work described here) will be to investigate which actors, and which situations, are the most likely sources of anthropogenic biorisk in the next few decades. This project will involve collating and analyzing historical information such as datasets and relevant case studies, and then using this information to estimate the size and nature of future risks. Some key questions to answer include:
- How do the risks from state-sponsored bioweapons programs compare to those from non-state actors?
- Are catastrophes more likely to be the result of accidents or deliberate actions?
- How should we prioritize different potential interventions for reducing anthropogenic biorisk? Are there particular classes of actors, or particular bottlenecks to bioweapon development, that are particularly valuable?
This research will be primarily internal-facing, though some projects may have public-facing components. The role may involve engaging with grantees, delegating tasks to contractors, and managing their work to ensure that the program’s goals are met. Depending on how the needs of the program evolve, the role could also encompass ad hoc projects within biosecurity and on non-biosecurity topics.
The position would last for a minimum of one year. At that point, if your performance has been strong, we may offer to make the position permanent, depending on our requirements and research capacity at the time. We may be open to offering a permanent position up front depending on an applicant’s circumstances.
Who we’re looking for
We are looking for people who have strong research skills, and who are motivated to reduce catastrophic risk. You could be a great fit if you:
- Are quantitatively minded. You feel comfortable doing back-of-the-envelope calculations, thinking probabilistically, and doing basic data analysis, in order to come to quantitative conclusions. You care about getting the numbers right and are aware of the limitations of your results.
- Can work pragmatically to answer the question at hand. You are happy diving into the details of data sets and do the hard work of getting numbers out, and to draw on work from a diverse range of disciplines and sources. You are also able to recognize when approaches to a problem are unlikely to be fruitful, or unlikely to yield decision-relevant results, and to change your approach accordingly.
- Are a good communicator. You can explain your research findings to others clearly and transparently, including your degree of confidence in the results and any major remaining uncertainties.
We think successful candidates could have a diverse range of backgrounds. For the junior research analyst role, examples of relevant backgrounds could include:
- A recent university graduate who double-majored in physics and history
- Someone who completed data-driven predoctoral political science research and reads widely, including a few biosecurity policy and synthetic biology newsletters
- A philosophy major who has competed in several political forecasting tournaments
For the more senior Research Analyst role, we again think that successful candidates could come from a wide range of backgrounds. For example, you could be a good fit if:
- You have a PhD in a relevant discipline such as political science, economics, or history
- You have worked as a research analyst, quantitative analyst, or data scientist, particularly in biosecurity or an adjacent field
Note that there is no such thing as a “perfect” candidate. If you are on the fence about applying because you are unsure whether you are qualified, we would strongly encourage you to apply.
Across roles, we value staff who are able to communicate clearly and honestly about what they think, are comfortable giving and receiving feedback (including upward feedback for their manager or the organization), and interested in taking ownership of their work and proactively seeking ways to help Open Philanthropy meet its goals. For more information about the qualities we look for in employees at Open Philanthropy, see here.
Role details & benefits
- Compensation: The baseline compensation for this role will be either $136,834.45 (for Research Analyst level hires) or $122,364.26 (for Junior Research Analyst level hires), which would be distributed as a base salary of $118,986.48 or $106,403.71 and an unconditional 401(k) grant of $17,847.97 or $15,960.56 respectively.
- These compensation figures assume a Washington, D.C. location; there would be cost-of-living adjustments downward for other locations.
- All compensation will be distributed in the form of take-home salary for internationally based hires.
- Location: This role would preferably be primarily in-person in Washington D.C., where the Open Philanthropy Biosecurity and Pandemic Preparedness team will be located starting in early 2024. Primarily remote work is also possible, with some significant fraction of time spent in DC.
- Benefits: Our benefits package includes:
- Excellent health insurance (we cover 100% of premiums within the US for you and any dependents)
- Dental, vision and life insurance for you and your family
- Four weeks of PTO recommended per year
- Four months of fully paid family leave
- A generous and flexible expense policy — we encourage staff to expense the ergonomic equipment, software and other services that they need to stay healthy and productive
- Support for remote work — we’ll cover a remote workspace outside your home if you need one, or connect you with an Open Phil coworking hub in your city
- We can’t always provide every benefit we offer US staff to international hires, but we’re working on it (and will usually provide cash equivalents of any benefits we can’t offer in your country)
- Start date: We’d like a candidate to start as soon as possible after receiving an offer, though there is some flexibility
Our initial application deadline is 11:59pm ET on 28 May 2023, at which point we will begin reviewing submissions. We will still accept applications after this deadline, and will keep applications open until the role has been filled; however, applying after the initial deadline may significantly reduce your chances of being hired compared to candidates who are further through the selection process.
We aim to employ people with many different experiences, perspectives and backgrounds who share our passion for accomplishing as much good as we can. We are committed to creating an environment where all employees have the opportunity to succeed, and we do not discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.
If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, or have any other questions about applying, please contact [email protected].