Research Associate: Job Description

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ("Foundation") believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.  Through its grants, the Foundation seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.  The Foundation makes grants in four core program areas:  Higher Learning, Public Knowledge, Arts and Culture, and Humanities in Place.  The Foundation seeks a Research Associate in the Public Knowledge program.


The Public Knowledge program supports a range of university, public, and other local, national, and global libraries, archives, and presses that are foundational to the cultural production and distribution of knowledge in the humanities.  Its program strategies are to:

  • Preserve original sources in all formats, with a focus on materials from historically under-represented cultures and populations;
  • Support the innovative maintenance and sustainability of technology, tools, and infrastructure for content related to the Foundation's social justice orientation; and
  • Create and strengthen networks for the interdependent sharing of resources, services, and collections.

Recent examples of projects funded through the Public Knowledge program include "Diamond in the Back: Excavating Chicago's Black Cultural and Material Heritage"; "Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II"; and "Mukurtu Shared: Phase II."  Please visit the Foundation's grants database to see all of the grants made through Public Knowledge.

The Public Knowledge program requires a living research agenda, at once strategic and bold in its ambition and breadth, that will:  (1) help guide and catalyze grantmaking directions in alignment with program and Foundation strategies; (2) be informed by discerning assessments, including gap analyses, of previous grant initiatives that help anticipate areas of future support for the program; and (3) be developed and enacted in complementarity with the research agendas of other program areas at the Foundation.  Besides program staff in Public Knowledge, the expected cohort for the Research Associate would include colleagues with similar roles in the Office of the President, Higher Learning, and Arts and Culture, as well as colleagues in the Foundation's Library, the Office of Institutional Research, and Data Management.

Position Details

Reporting to the Program Officer for Public Knowledge, the Research Associate would have responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Keep pace with prominent trends in libraries, archives, and publishing, including the technologies and infrastructures that these areas rely upon or could be transformed by.
  • Design and execute short-term and long-term research projects driven by perceived needs and gaps in the areas of the Public Knowledge program's grantmaking.
  • Assist program leaders in Public Knowledge to plan, research, and draft reports for a variety of audiences—including the Foundation's president, senior staff, and board of trustees as well as the general public—to share learnings from program research questions and projects.
  • Track the implementation of Public Knowledge program strategies in accordance with currently defined metrics and help refine these metrics as needed.
  • Work across the Public Knowledge team to establish and improve a workflow to ensure data collection consistency in proposals and reports submitted through the Foundation’s grant management system, Fluxx.
  • As needed, serve as the program's point of contact on internal cross-functional working groups.
  • As needed, attend and participate in meetings with potential and current grantees, as well as with experts in the library, archives, and publishing fields.
  • As required, work with external consultants and evaluators engaged by the program for assessment purposes and to inform future grantmaking directions.


A Master's degree is strongly preferred.  Candidates who have earned a PhD within the last two years will also be considered.

  • Five to seven years' experience in program administration, preferably in a library, archives, or publisher context.
  • Keen understanding of and passion for disciplines in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.
  • Proficient knowledge of libraries, archives, and presses—and/or practitioner experiences in one or more of them—as organizations that form, and contribute to, a vital ecosystem for public knowledge.
  • Strong, critical grasp of current challenges in technology and infrastructure for the humanities, including diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues.
  • Experience in designing research projects informed by data collection and analysis.
  • Demonstrated abilities in using quantitative and qualitative methods, including analytical tools (e.g., relational databases, data visualization, and CSV/spreadsheet formats).
  • Superior research, written, and communication skills, and strong presentation and storytelling abilities.
  • Excellent analytical and organizational skills with precise attention to detail, and an affinity for critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Self-starter able to work independently and manage multiple projects, while being a dedicated team player.
  • Commitment to social justice and cultural equity.
  • Curiosity, collegiality, integrity, and flexibility.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer that offers a competitive salary, outstanding benefits, and excellent working conditions.

Contact Information

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position together with a resume to:  Research Associate.  The Foundation will consider each response carefully, but only contact those individuals it believes are most qualified for the position.