United Nations University

Senior Researcher on Artificial Intelligence - Team Lead (P3)

Join United Nations University as they are looking for a Senior Researcher on Artificial Intelligence - Team Lead (P3)

** Application Deadline extended**

United Nations University (UNU)

UNU is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge in furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU's work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals' full breadth, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

About UNU Institute in Macau (UNU Macau)

UNU Institute in Macau (UNU Macau) is one of 13 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system. UNU Macau is a research institute at the intersections of digital technology and sustainable development. The Institute conducts policy-relevant research and generates solutions, addressing pressing challenges expressed in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through high-impact innovations and the latest technologies. Through its research, the UNU Institute in Macau encourages data-driven and evidence-based actions and policies to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the Institute’s missions is to nurture the next generation of interdisciplinary computing, information and social scientists, and engineers to be leaders in the field of ICT for development. To this end, the institute seeks to build a team of experts to help deliver the institute’s mission and work plan. The Institute’s research tends to be more applied, and strives for policy impact in the UN system, at international, regional and national levels.

The UNU Institute in Macau is situated in the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, and it is the only UN entity in the city. Macau is one of the most dynamic regions in Asia, where technological innovations have become an integral part in driving social and economic change. Macau is part of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), that hosts many private sector companies and technological giants that are just a short distance away. Its proximity to China, Hong Kong SAR and other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, provides an exciting opportunity for researchers and experts to maximize the impact of their work.


The UNU Institute in Macau’s research team consists of a dynamic and highly professional group of multi-disciplinary researchers from across the world. The research team works collaboratively to seek big-sized research grants and conduct research projects together for policy impact. The team also collaborates on training and education programmes. The Institute has recently developed its Strategic Plan (2021-2025), where systems thinking, and participatory approaches are the two major pillars of the research portfolio (see https://go.unu.edu/DZBVR for details). 
Senior Researchers (Team Lead) are expected to work with the Institute’s Head of Research and the Director to drive these two pillars and thereby help the Institute reach the visions set out in its Strategic Plan.

Under the guidance and direct supervision of the Head of Research, and the overall guidance of the Director of the Institute, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

1. Lead one research pillar focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Develop research programmes (regarding their expertise) in their team, and carry out research relevant to the work of UNU-Macau at an international level;
  • Manage a team of inter-disciplinary researchers while overseeing multiple projects carried out within the team;
  • Oversee the budget and finance of the research team;
  • Manage, mentor and coach junior researchers and student researchers/interns, when applicable;
  • Demonstrate professionalism, flexibility and ability to work with realistic deadlines, creative thinking, results driven, foreseeing risks and allowing for contingencies when planning.

2. Partnerships and Resource Mobilization focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Lead the development of resource mobilization strategies for policy-relevant topics in the assigned portfolio; implement the resource mobilization strategies on behalf of the Institute and with the multidisciplinary team;
  • Establish and maintain partnership with government, UN entities, private sector, NGOs and other key, stakeholders and donors to collaborate actively, and achieve fundraising results;
  • Oversee MOU signing with partner, and negotiate deliverables and the size of the grant with the donors;
  • Establish reporting accountability framework to ensure that donors are duly informed on a timely basis. Plan financial and human resources needed for grant projects;
  • Execute grant and project funds with full compliance to donor agreements; and
  • Engage policy consumers from research conceptualization and collaborate closely along the way.

3.Exercise the highest professional and ethical standards when conducting research, and ensure high quality research outputs focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Ensure that research projects in her/his team completes the Ethical Review Board (ERB)’s reviews before data collection;
  • Monitor and evaluate research activities, including supervising project leaders in drafting and submitting periodic reports;
  • Preparing presentations and reports on programme activities for various audiences;
  • Publish at high quality academic journals and conferences;
  • Create diverse written products related to the research projects or areas of expertise, such as academic papers in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals, blogs, op-eds, policy briefs, and UN reports; and
  • Collaborate with the Communications team on outputs for social media and platforms.

4. Communicate research accomplishments at academic conferences, and especially high-impact international venues (e.g. UN conferences) focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Explore and suggest academic, conferences and events to present academic results; participate if approved;
  • Contribute to the Institute’s publication/social media platforms to release academic achievements, such as to supply blog posts, journal articles, tweets, etc.

5. Lead and oversee training or educational activities in the research areas of their team; participate in Institute events focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Ensure capacity development of UNU personnel in application of research, fundraising and reporting tools and practices;
  • Execute teaching responsibilities on behalf of UNU Macau; and
  • Be an active participant in organizing the Institute events and conferences.

6. Perform other tasks as assigned by the Head of Research and Director.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Performance of research team personnel; produces quality knowledge products
  • Timely and quality implementation of the Institute’s strategy, research programmes, projects and workplans
  • Timely and quality delivery on operational goals
  • Timely and quality research publications
  • Timely and quality delivery of inputs to curated fundraising opportunities
  • Quality and level of engagement with partners, related networks and working groups
  • UNU Macau is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, governments, donors, and civil society



  • Inclusion - Take action to create an environment of dignity and respect for all, regardless of age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, geography, grade, language, nationality, racial identity, religion, sex, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, social origin or any other aspect of identity.
  • Integrity - Act ethically, demonstrating the standards of conduct of the United Nations and taking prompt action in case of witnessing unprofessional or unethical behaviour, or any other breach of UN standards.
  • Humility - Demonstrate self-awareness and willingness to learn from others.
  • Humanity - Act according to the purposes of the United Nations: peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet.


  • Connect and Collaborate - Build positive relationships with others to advance the work of the United Nations and work coherently as One UN
  • Analyse and Plan - Seek out and use data from a wide range of sources to understand problems, inform decision-making, propose evidence-based solutions and plan action
  • Deliver Results with Positive Impact - Hold oneself and others accountable for delivering results and making a positive difference to the people and causes that the United Nations serves
  • Learn and Develop - Pursue own learning and development and contribute to the learning and development of others
  • Adapt and Innovate - Demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to think and act in novel ways

Education and certifications:

Doctoral degree (PhD) in computer science, information studies, human-computer interaction, data science, digital technology and ethics, economics, communication studies, development studies or related field is required.

We are looking for a researcher working on Artificial Intelligence. The selected candidate is expected to have multi-disciplinary perspectives on Artificial Intelligence tools and approaches but also being able to applied her/his knowledge to different challenges.

Areas of expertise includes but are not limited to:

  • Impact of AI on Sustainable Development Goals;
  • AI & sustainability;
  • Economy of AI;
  • Multi-cultural aspects of AI;
  • Ethics of AI and public policy, regulatory frameworks & guidelines; ethics operationalization and contextualization;
  • AI and data ethics: algorithmics biases and discrimination, accountability and transparency;
  • AI weaponization and peace issues;
  • Gender perspective on AI issues.

Experience and other requirements:


  • At least five (5) years after completing the doctoral dissertation;
  • At least five (5) years of full-time, progressive experience managing successful academic research programs, some of which should include managing teams of three (3) or more staff;
  • Current research areas have to be related to AI research, including ethics of AI;
  • A track record of excellent academic publications;
  • Experience managing research finance and budget of research teams;
  • Strong communication and presentation skills, along with excellent drafting skills, and fluency in English;
  • Strong people management skills;
  • Good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
  • Passion for the mission of the United Nations and enthusiasm to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • The post is Macau-based. The selected candidate is required to reside full-time in Macau. This is not a remote position.


  • Experience working with diverse stakeholders including public, private, non-profit and intergovernmental organizations;
  • Experience in managing a multi-disciplinary team;
  • Experience working with United Nations system ;

Language requirements:

  • Strong communication and presentation skills, along with excellent drafting skills, and fluency in English
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset


UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy. For more information please see: https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=SAL

Duration of contract

This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment, with full-time residence in Macau. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance. 

For academic positions, the combined duration of fixed-term appointments with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years.

Expected starting date   
2023 - as soon as possible 

How to Apply:

To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

  • Apply via the apply link;
  • a curriculum vitae (including publications and grant-funding); please upload it in the screening questions section
  • fill out the UNU P11 form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations);
  • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form); and
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position.

You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.

Application Deadline: 

14 April, 2023 (11:59pm, Macau time zone GMT+8)

** Application page no more operational beyond application deadline.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview, background checks, and references.

Special notice

Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the Rector's authority. They may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University. The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that advertised.

UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are also encouraged to apply.

UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

Information about UNU rosters

UNU reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNU at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

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