Research Associate

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Resources for the Future · Washington, DC/Remote (USA)

Data + Analytics
Poverty Alleviation & Economic Development
Climate Change
$65,750 - $84,250 Per Year
Posted 4 days ago

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Position Overview 

Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Our mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. Policymakers, stakeholders, and other researchers look to RFF for guidance about the most important climate-related environmental policy and infrastructure decisions. 

To meet the demand for RFF’s modeling, RFF is hiring one or more Research Associates to develop, maintain, modify, and apply electricity sector simulation models; analyze and present the results; co-author the resulting reports and papers; and manage important aspects of these activities. They have considerable responsibility for the production of compelling and impactful research that aligns with RFF’s mission of improving environmental, energy and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement.  

Research Associates play central roles in modeling and analyzing the effects of potential policies and infrastructure investments that may strongly affect climate change, air quality, energy costs, energy reliability, and more. This work calls for strong performance in programming, power sector modeling, economic reasoning, teamwork, and communication. We anticipate that the successful candidates will have undergraduate or graduate degrees in economics, engineering, computer science, mathematics, or related fields. 

RFF is committed to growth opportunities for all staff, and successful Research Associates can be promoted through multiple ranks of the organization per RFF’s career ladder. Please note that this position may be filled at the Research Associate or Senior Research Associate level, depending on qualifications. 


This position is in-person at our offices in Washington DC. This a hybrid position that requires 3 days in the office per week and is not eligible for 100% remote work.


Job Responsibilities 

Each Research Associate will apply and further develop one or both of RFF’s electricity sector simulation models, as part of a team with guidance from senior staff. RFF maintains two leading electricity sector models using different software and conceptual approaches. The Haiku model is a perfect foresight capacity expansion and policy simulation model coded in GAMS. The Engineering, Economic, and Environmental Electricity Simulation Tool (E4ST) is a recursive model with relatively greater geographic and engineering detail, coded in Julia. Both are used to project the effects, benefits, and costs of energy and environmental policies, potential energy infrastructure investments, and other potential developments that affect the energy sector and the environment.  

Both electricity-sector models are used in conjunction with air pollution models to project health effects of different policies and investments, and with the RFF Incidence Model that is used to estimate the cost burden across household types. Depending on skills and background, one or more of the Research Associates are likely to also be involved in the use of, and potentially the enhancement of, these models.  


Much of the recent and current work with these models is about policies and investments for deep decarbonization of the US economy and for air quality improvements. 

We expect that Research Associates will make important contributions to and manage aspects of the following activities:   

  • Understand, use, update, and improve the E4ST, Haiku, and/or RFF Incidence Model software, associated input datasets, and their documentation. 
  • Interpret, check, and use model outputs. 
  • Participate in analysis and writing for production of journal papers, public reports, and presentations that use one or more of the models. This often has evolved toward an increasing role as an author. 
  • Collaborate smoothly with other team members, and eventually train new team members. 
  • Assist with proposal writing. 




  • Education and work experience: Either (1) an undergraduate degree in economics, engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, or related field and four years relevant experience or (2) a graduate degree in one of the same fields and two years relevant experience.  
  • Software development: The Research Associates will have to understand, use, maintain, modify, and add features to the extensive code that makes up one or more of the models at RFF. E4ST is coded in Julia, Haiku in GAMS, and the Incidence model in STATA. R or ArcGIS is helpful for GIS and figure-making work. However, general skill and aptitude for programming are more important than experience with these specific languages. Past and current research analysts with strength in one or more other languages have successfully learned one or more of the above-mentioned languages on the job. 
  • A basic understanding of constrained linear optimization, mixed complementarity programming, computable general equilibrium modeling or a combination thereof is valuable.  
  • The ability to work collaboratively is crucial, along with the ability to work independently, with and without supervision, in a careful and conscientious manner. 
  • Ability to communicate clearly in writing. 
  • Training or experience in electrical engineering, economic theory, public finance, industrial organization, statistical methods, energy policy, or environmental policy are optional pluses. 



  • Medical, Dental, Vision through Cigna 
  • 35 hour work week 
  • Flexible summer hours (4 day work week option June-Sept) 
  • Flexible work arrangement policy (hybrid work) 
  • 11 paid holidays 
  • 4 weeks PTO to start, increases to 5 weeks after 5 years, in addition to 13 paid sick days per year 
  • Brand new state of the art fitness facility free to employees, with occasional yoga classes 
  • Deli on site 
  • Parking on site 
  • RFF contributes up to 15% of your salary to a 403(b) retirement account, depending on employee age, in addition to a 401(a) 
  • Commuter benefit plans (pre-tax metro and parking) 


Physical Requirements

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, some standing, walking, sitting, bending, and carrying of light items such as books and papers is required.


Working Conditions

The work may involve everyday light risks and discomforts, which may require normal safety precautions typical of such places as offices, meetings, and training rooms, etc. The work area is adequately lighted, heated, and ventilated. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

This position description may not describe all duties, responsibilities and skills associated with this position. It is intended to portray the major aspects of the job and is not meant to be all inclusive. Other duties or skills may be required.


Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

RFF (Resources for the Future) is committed to the letter and spirit of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in hiring and employment, nor in the administration and other programs. RFF’s Vision for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Future.


RFF has made the safety of our staff and community a top priority. As a part of that commitment, all staff and visitors are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. RFF will require all staff and visitors to submit proof of complete vaccination against COVID-19 to work in our office. 


Visit our FAQ page to find out what it’s like to work at a world-class, policy-oriented research organization in the heart of Washington, DC.

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