White House Seeks Second Slate of Social Science Experts


Maya Shankar
Neuroscientists Maya Shankar is the senior adviser for the social and behavioral sciences at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
While the social sciences are being scrutinized in the U.S. Congress, and may face a haircut (better than outright decapitation) in the spending bills for federal science agencies, at the White House they remain appreciated.

In the current budget request from the Obama administration, the document specifically calls for recruiting experts from the social and behavioral sciences to help craft better policy.

In addition, the budget calls for expanding the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, a multidisciplinary group of experts coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and based at the General Services Administration’s Performance Improvement Council.

The debut SBS team celebrated its first birthday in February, and celebrated with notable achievements like ‘nudging’ service members to contribute to their retirements or helping college students understand their loan repayment options. According to the budget document, the team organized by neuroscientist Maya Shankar “is already helping over a dozen Federal agencies test the impact of behaviorally-informed interventions on program impact and efficiency using rapid, rigorous, and low-cost randomized control trials.” Now, the White House wants a bigger team to advise more agencies.

In pursuit of that, the White House is now seeking fellows and associates to “translate insights from the social and behavioral sciences into concrete recommendations for how to improve federal programs, policies, and operations, and work closely with agency partners to structure and implement rigorous experimental trials capable of testing the relative efficiency and efficacy of proposed interventions.”

Social scientists interested in that mission have until April 12 to apply for a one-year position on the team, the White House has announced.

The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team seeks members at two levels, fellows and associates. Fellows are typically researchers with a PhD in a social or behavioral science field on leave from positions at universities, government agencies, or other research organizations. Associates have a master’s degree plus two or more years of relevant experience and are generally pursuing a PhD in social and behavioral sciences .

More information on the search, and information on how to apply, is available HERE.


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