Position: Senior Behavioural Scientist (Senior Researcher)

 Indlela: Behavioural Insights for Better Health

The Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office (HE2RO) of the University of the Witwatersrand, based in Johannesburg, South Africa is an internationally recognized health research group which conducts research and analysis on issues of public health importance, including a strong focus on HIV, TB, and NCDs. HE2RO seeks to build the evidence base to improve health policies and programmes in South Africa and the region.

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania and HE2RO are launching Indlela: Behavioural Insights for Better Health. Indlela is a first-of-its-kind “nudge unit” or behavioural insights team focused on improving the effectiveness of public sector health care delivery in South Africa.  In its first 3 years, Indlela will focus on (1) building capacity to deploy behavioural economics within HIV prevention and treatment programs in South Africa and (2) strengthening the ability of health service delivery providers and research institutions to develop and test behaviourally-informed interventions. In future years, Indlela’s scope will expand beyond HIV to include other pressing health issues in South Africa.

We seek a dynamic, enthusiastic, and self-motivated individual with experience in behavioural science or related fields to lead Indlela and build local capacity and collaborations. The Senior Behavioural Scientist will initially focus on establishing Indlela through advocacy, networking, and demand creation and facilitating capacity-building workshops. As Indlela matures, the position will also manage a portfolio of collaborative projects with other research and implementation organizations that (1) identify behavioural barriers to health services delivery and engagement, and (2) design and rapidly test appropriate “nudge” strategies to address those barriers.

The Senior Behavioural Scientist will be based at HE2RO’s head office in Johannesburg but may need to travel to other regions of South Africa and within Sub-Saharan Africa and globally up to 25% time. Overtime/weekend hours and working in rural areas and/or under-resourced circumstances will be required from time to time. This is a full-time position.

Responsibilities and Duties

  • Lead the establisment of Indlela with the support of the full Indlela team
  • Advocate for Indlela through networking and relationship building with key stakeholders and related organizations, including creating demand for capacity-building workshops
  • In partnership with Indlela leadership and other facilitators, develop and conduct capacity-building workshops on behavioural insights and health in South Africa
  • In partnership with implementing partners and other researchers, developing research project concepts, including discovering relevant behavioural insights, designing and testing interventions in rapid trials, and measuring the impact of behavioural change
  • Support, mentor and supervise junior researchers in conducting projects
  • Supervise, manage and train research staff and study teams
  • Present scientific findings at research conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and disseminate findings to other stakeholders such as research networks, universities/academic institutions, government units, funders, the community, and media
  • Ensure sustainability of Indlela by seeking additional funding and submitting funding proposals as the unit matures
  • Perform other tasks and contribute to organization, management, oversight, and results reporting as needed



The Senior Behavioural Scientist must have:

  • Masters or PhD (preferred) in Social Psychology, Behavioral or Social Science, Behavioral Economics, Clinical Psychology, or related disciplines appropriate to the position
  • Minimum 5 years’ research experience or comparable professional experience in public health or helath care delivery, preferably in socio-behavioural research or an aspect of science related to health sciences, health outcomes research, psychology, social sciences or behavioural change
  • A foundational understanding of biomedical, psycho-social and structural factors affecting health in South Africa
  • Knowledge of health systems in South Africa
  • Demonstrated writing and communication skills, with a relevant publications record
  • Self-motivation and ability to work independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Experience mentoring and supervising junior staff
  • Experience implementing independent projects, including managing study staff and budgets
  • Expertise in data analytics and relevant software

Closing Date28/02/2020
Position TypePermanent
Detailed Job description
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