Only full-time, permanent EPA employees are eligible to serve as principal investigators (PI) on externally sponsored research projects. Any exceptions require the approval of the department chair and the dean.

The PI is a member of the academic staff or faculty who bears responsibility for the intellectual leadership of a project. The principal investigator accepts overall responsibility for directing the research, the financial oversight of the award’s funding, as well as compliance with relevant University policies and sponsor terms and conditions of award.

The guideline below is based on a document issued by the Office of the Provost in 1988 and amended in January, 2002. This policy was originally published in the January 1988 issue of the University Research Administration newsletter. The article was entitled “Academic Status of Principal Investigators.” The guideline has been revised several times to include certain specific non-faculty research investigator titles as eligible principal investigators and to address the PI eligibility of clinical academic staff. — January 2002

Policy : University regulations require that individuals with faculty status (i.e., Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, or Instructor), Senior Scientists, Senior Research Associates, Research Scientists or Research Associates with parenthetical rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor may serve as principal investigators on proposals submitted to any outside funding agency in support of research, training, or other sponsored activities.

Clinical academic staff are eligible to serve as principal investigators if the “Clinical” portion of their appointment titles precedes the name of their departments (e.g., Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine). If the “Clinical” portion of the appointment title precedes an individual’s academic rank (e.g., Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine), then that individual is not eligible to serve as a principal investigator.

Individuals without faculty status may serve as principal investigator under the following conditions: (1) as co-principal investigator with an individual of appropriate rank, or (2) with approval from the Office of the Provost.

Procedure : An individual who wishes to obtain approval as a principal investigator from the Office of the Provost should follow these procedures:

  1. When an academic staff member without one of the above listed ranks considers submitting a proposal as a principal investigator, a memorandum must be prepared which provides a rationale for the individual to serve as principal investigator. This memo, including a current c.v. for the proposed PI, must be endorsed by the appropriate department chair. If the person has no prior experience as a Principal Investigator, the memo should address how and by whom the person will be mentored in the technical and project management duties of a PI. Further the recommending department or unit should confirm that the appropriate administrative and fiscal support staff and services are available to support the PI.
  2. This memorandum is to be submitted to the Dean’s Office for that Dean’s endorsement – signature.
  3. After obtaining the Dean’s approval, the memorandum must be forwarded to University Research Administration, which will obtain approval of the Office of the Provost.