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Lead Research Manager – Hungry Seasons Project, Malawi


UC Berkeley seeks a motivated lead research manager to manage implementation and evaluation of a USAID-funded project addressing seasonal hunger through a planning intervention in Malawi. The research manager will work with UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara researchers, as well as implementing partner One Acre Fund. Expected start date between March 1 and July 1, 2024 with a year-long commitment. Opportunity to extend for a year or more is possible.

Project Description

This project addresses the challenge of seasonal hunger, a common problem in Sub-Saharan Africa: farmers often harvest their crops once per year, but then run out of food in the months before the next harvest—a period known as “the hungry season.” Over the past two years, the research team introduced a simple, low-cost planning intervention based on principles from psychology to help farmers better smooth their maize. An initial randomized control trial with 850 households in Zambia found large effects: treated households entered the hungry season with one month more of food, and due to increased farm investments, had 10% higher harvest revenue. We now seek to take this successful intervention to scale. The project has been funded by USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, the UC Davis Feed the Future Innovation Lab Markets, Risk and Resilience Program, US National Science Foundation and the Center for Effective Global Action.

The Lead Research Manager should be a capable manager of large field research projects, with excellent organizational and people management skills. The Lead Research Manager will be responsible for coordinating work with a new implementing partner in Malawi, One Acre Fund (1AF), in collaboration with researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara and local survey firms in Malawi.

The Lead Research Manager will be tasked with leading a nation-wide scale-up of this project, in partnership with 1AF. The role will include three main components:

  1. Development of intervention: This role will require adapting the intervention on the ground to prepare it for scale, piloting, and debriefing. This includes spending time on the ground engaged in the details of the intervention — to design and test concrete new approaches in villages, along with focus groups and debriefs with participants — in order to help the project team arrive at a revised intervention design for scale-up.
  2. Roll-out of national implementation: The Manager will then oversee the nation-wide rollout of the intervention in partnership with 1AF.  This includes developing training protocols for 1AF extension workers, and conducting hands-on training of the extension workers who will implement the intervention with 1AF clients. The Manager will then oversee the launch of the national scale-up, and will be responsible for monitoring implementation fidelity.
  3. Evaluation via randomized trial: This role will also oversee the evaluation of the national rollout via a randomized control trial. This will involve managing a large team of local survey enumerators and project staff and overseeing data collection across the country to measure impact, including developing survey instruments and tools. This will also involve ensuring rigorous data quality measures are in place, including high-frequency checks, back-checking, effective training and debriefs with field staff, and other measures as required.

This position is based in Zomba, Malawi with frequent travel to Zomba project sites as well as project sites throughout Malawi. 

There is scope to extend the scale-up across Sub-Saharan Africa and globally. While the minimum commitment is for a year, this is a role with a lot of room for professional growth in coming years.


  • Support adapting and scaling the intervention in different settings effectively
  • Coordinate research partners including One Acre Fund, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, local Malawi survey firms
  • Develop intervention training protocols and lead trainings for 1AF extension staff
  • Hire, train, and manage a team of local survey enumerators and other project staff, potentially including at least one Research Assistant;
  • Oversee piloting of different scalable versions of the treatment intervention
  • Manage project workflows and timelines;
  • Manage all aspects of project implementation in Malawi;
  • Work closely with PIs and partners to track project progress and troubleshoot challenges that arise;
  • Liaise closely with partners to ensure smooth program roll-out;
  • Support the development of sampling plans and a field management plan for conducting surveys;
  • Ensure quality control for data collection and data management activities, including high-frequency data checks
  • Conduct data analysis and contribute to written project material.


  • Bachelor’s in Economics, Public Policy, Development Studies or related program
  • Minimum of three (3) years relevant work/research fieldwork experience
  • Experience conducting large-scale field research in low and middle-income countries
  • Experience with project management; ability to work independently and manage complex and competing priorities
  • Familiarity with Microsoft and Google Suite, and data collection software like SurveyCTO and/or Qualtrics preferred
  • Strong written and oral communication skills in English
  • Must be willing to reside in Malawi
  • Familiarity with randomized controlled trials preferred
  • Experience living and working in developing countries preferred


Commensurate with experience. Expected salary range is US$50,000 – $55,000.


Contact project team member Kristina Hallez (

To Apply

Please submit the following documents through the link below:

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover letter (required)
  • Academic transcripts (required)
  • Recommendation letter/s (preferred)

Apply here

Given the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

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