Research Assistant

Job description

Research Assistant

Stanford University

Job Number:

Job Family: Research

Job Series: Social Science Research Professional

Job Code: 4186

Grade: E

Exemption: Exempt

Research Assistant for a project on “Nuclear Insecurity in the Bay Area and Beyond”

From early research on nuclear physics and the Manhattan Project at UC Berkeley to the decontamination of ships used in nuclear weapons tests at Treasure Island and their disposal near the Farrallons, the Bay Area has a rich nuclear history. Some of this history has received considerable attention, most notably that concerning the science and technology of designing and manufacturing nuclear weapons. There has been virtually no scholarship, however, on the disposal of radioactive waste that inevitably accompanied this history. This absence is particularly notable in light of current plans to build low- and middle-income housing on Treasure Island, which some experts deem presents greater radioactive risk than the zones around the Fukushima reactors destroyed in 2011.

Sources to investigate the history of radioactive contamination in the Bay Area exist in local archives and memory. The main task of this RA will be to identify and explore these sources, with the ultimate goals of (1) developing a project-based course on Nuclear Insecurity in the Bay Area and Beyond; (2) writing at least one, maybe more, essays on the radioactive Bay Area; (3) developing analytic tools and materials to compare contamination in the Bay Area with that elsewhere in the world. Tasks will include identifying relevant archives; identifying actors willing to grant oral history interviews; conducting such interviews; working in the archives to develop a series of historical projects that could be pursued by students in the afore-mentioned course; and more, to be determined as the project progresses. The ideal RA would have an undergraduate degree in History, Anthropology, or Science and Technology Studies, and willingness to learn about natural science and health research related to radiation exposure. This position offers excellent preparation for candidates considering PhD work in the future.

This is a two year fixed term position.


Perform work to support research or develop public programs and policies, applying basic knowledge and understanding of scientific theory.


  • Plan and perform research tasks of limited complexity requiring initiative and judgment in applying basic knowledge and understanding of scientific theory when precedents do not provide specific guidance; general instruction is provided by the supervisor.

  • Extract data and structured information from published literature and other sources.

  • Conduct literature searches, and write literature summaries, requiring preliminary judgments after conceptual approach is outlined by the supervisor. Build and organize data as requested by principal investigator or faculty.

  • Adapt new, nonstandard methods outlined by supervisor (principal investigator or faculty).

  • Assist in designing and evaluating phases of research projects, seeking guidance where necessary, and auditing the accuracy and validity of data entered in databases.

  • Present research finding to internal audiences, including peers, co-workers, and managers.

  • Assist with development and design of outreach materials and tools for recruitment, educational, or awareness programs with guidance from supervisor.


  • Conduct oral histories, after receiving on-the-job training.

  • Identify and mine relevant archival collections, after receiving on-the-job training.

  • Assistance with course development, including identifying sites for field trips and helping to design and manage those trips.

  • Assistance with conference planning and organization.

    * - Other duties may also be assigned


    Education & Experience:

    Bachelor of Arts degree in an applicable social science or humanities field, or combination of education and relevant experience in an applicable social science or humanities.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • General understanding of theory and methods in the relevant social science or humanities field.

  • General computer skills and ability to quickly learn and master computer programs.

  • Ability to work under deadlines with general guidance.

  • Excellent organizational skills and demonstrated ability to complete detailed work accurately.

  • Effective oral and written communication skills.

  • Ability to work with human study participants.

  • Additional Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Desired: Any additional skills not included in the list above.

  • Outstanding analytic writing skills a must.

  • Prior experience working with primary sources a plus

    Certifications and Licenses:

    Safety Training on how to work with radioactive materials must be completed in the first 3 months of position.


  • Frequently perform desk-based computer tasks, grasp lightly/fine manipulation, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 10 pounds.

  • Occasionally stand/walk, sit, use a telephone, writing by hand, and sort/file paperwork or parts.

  • Rarely twist/bend/stoop/squat, kneel/crawl, rarely reach/work above shoulders, operate foot and/or hand controls.

  • Ability to commute to off-campus locations for research work.

    * - Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.


  • May be required to work non-standard, extended or weekend hours in support of research work.

  • Will be required to commute to off-campus locations for work in archives and oral history.

  • May be exposed low levels of radiation at off campus sites and handling materials which have come from nuclear facilities.


  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.

  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.

  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University's Administrative Guide,

    Applications must include:

  • 1-page cover letter detailing the candidate's background and explaining why the position is of interest.

  • CV

  • Writing sample: ideally a research paper written for an advanced course in the last 2 years of college, or a selection from an undergraduate thesis (5000 words max, 3-4000 preferred).

    Application deadline: June 8. Candidates from under-represented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.


    Location: Dean of Research, California, United States
    Classification Level:

    To be considered for this position please visit our web site and apply on line at the following link:

    Stanford is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.





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    Job No:
    Posted: 5/22/2018
    Application Due: 6/27/2018
    Work Type: