Iowa State Principal Investigators Guidelines| Research & Development

ISU PI Eligibility Guidelines

Projects involving sponsored funding, human research, animal research, or research involving biohazards or radiation are subject to federal, state, and/or local regulatory oversight. This oversight is designed to assure the responsible management of project funds and the safe conduct of research.

The right to lead projects rests with Principal Investigators (PIs), individuals who by their educational backgrounds, work experiences and position responsibilities have demonstrated the project management skills needed to assure compliance with applicable regulations.

Eligibility to serve as a PI for sponsored funding administered through Iowa State University (including some competitive internal funding) and projects that require approval by a compliance committee depends on an individual’s position classification. The following section summarizes PI eligibility at Iowa State University. Note that sponsors may impose stricter regulations. Colleges, centers, institutes, or departments also may enact stricter regulations. For all position classifications, maintenance of the right to serve as PI is contingent upon responsible performance of duties as PI. Projects administered through the Ames Laboratory follow policies set by the Ames Laboratory.

PI Eligibility for Various Position Classifications


Tenured, Tenure-Eligible and NTER Faculty (Category 1)
Tenured, tenure-eligible, and NTER (non-tenure eligible research) faculty are automatically eligible to serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols at the time of hire. Such individuals generally have terminal degrees in their field and, by virtue of their training and qualifications at the time of hire, generally have the relevant project management skills.

Professional and Scientific (P&S) - P37 and Above (Category 2)
P&S employees in P37 (grade 37) positions and above are automatically eligible to serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols at time of hire. Because of their qualifications and position responsibilities, the following P&S P36 position titles also qualify the employee for automatic PI status for both sponsored projects and compliance protocols: Extension to Families Specialist, Extension to Youth Development Specialist, Field Specialist III, and Librarian II.

Lecturers and Clinicians
Senior lecturers and senior clinicians are automatically eligible to serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols. Lecturers and clinicians with PhDs or DVMs may serve as PIs on compliance protocols. Lecturers and clinicians who are required as a part of their position responsibilities to use animals in teaching may serve as PIs on IACUC teaching protocols. All projects must be performed within the investigator’s term appointment period.

Adjunct (i) and Affiliate (ii) Faculty
Adjunct and affiliate faculty are automatically eligible to serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols. All projects must be performed within the investigator’s term appointment period.

Collaborators (iii) Who Are Federal Employees
Collaborator faculty who are federal employees are automatically eligible to serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols if permitted to do so by their employer. Note that, according to federal policy, USDA collaborators cannot routinely serve as PIs or co-PIs on proposals or awards. USDA collaborators interested in serving as PI or co-PI should contact their ARS Administrative Officer for further information.

Faculty Who Resign from ISU
Faculty granted collaborator status after resigning from the university may continue to serve as PI on existing awards and compliance protocols. These individuals may also submit new proposals or protocols as PI if (1) a Category 1 or Category 2 employee serves as co-PI, and (2) the PI’s unit chair or director agrees by signing the ISU proposal data form (GoldSheet) to meet the contractual obligations of the award should the PI not perform as required. This includes the timely provision of all required deliverables and reports, payment of unallowable costs, reimbursement of the funding agency for work not completed, etc. The right to serve as PI is contingent on the collaborator’s responsible performance in grants management.

Visiting Faculty (iv), Visiting Scientists
Visiting faculty (at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Professor) and visiting scientists who are equivalent to Category 1 or Category 2 employees may serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols if (1) a Category 1 or Category 2 employee serves as co-PI, and (2) the PI’s unit chair or director agrees by signing the ISU proposal data form (GoldSheet) to meet the contractual obligations of the award should the PI not perform as required. This includes the timely provision of all required deliverables and reports, payment of unallowable costs, reimbursement of the funding agency for work not completed, etc. The right to serve as PI is contingent on visiting personnel’s responsible performance in grants management. All projects must be performed within the visitor’s term appointment period at Iowa State.

Emeritus Faculty
Retired faculty awarded emeritus status may serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols. The use of university resources, such as space, equipment, etc., by emeritus faculty requires the approval of the department chair.

Postdoctoral Associates
Postdoctoral associates may serve as PIs on sponsored projects and compliance protocols if a Category 1 or Category 2 employee serves as co-PI.

Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Undergraduate and graduate students may serve as PIs on compliance protocols for the Institutional Review Board if a Category 1 or Category 2 employee serves as co-PI.

All Other Position Classifications
All continuous and term Iowa State employees, plus graduate students and postdoctoral associates on appointment, are eligible to serve as Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs) on proposals, awards and compliance protocols, subject to sponsor eligibility, if a Category 1 or 2 PI serves as the principal investigator. Service as a Co-PI is an excellent way to learn and demonstrate relevant project management skills.
 

PI Waivers


Individuals not eligible to serve as a PI per the above criteria may request a waiver to serve as PI. A request, with the required approval of a supervisor, should be submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Research. The request must include documentation of the individual’s relevant project management skills.

  • Waiver to Serve as PI on Proposals and Awards. The request should include (1) a CV, and (2) a cover letter describing evidence of prior successful independent scholarship, such as a Ph.D. or M.S. with an extensive record of independent research, and evidence of prior successful grants management, such as service as a Co-PI.
  • Waiver to Serve as PI on Compliance Protocols. The request should include (1) a CV, and (2) a cover letter describing evidence of prior successful independent scholarship in an area relevant to the compliance area.


 
PI Status for Dissertation Research Awards


In rare circumstances, it may be appropriate for an individual who is not eligible to serve as a PI for ISU purposes to serve as a PI on an external proposal. An example would be an individual applying for a dissertation research award. In these cases, the individual should be shown as a Co-PI on the Proposal Data Form (GoldSheet), and the individual's supervisor or department chair should be shown as the PI on the GoldSheet. The GoldSheet is an internal document that does not leave Iowa State. Any Co-PI shown on the GoldSheet is given credit for the proposal and/or subsequent award in the Office of Sponsored Programs Administration database.
 

Further Information


Questions regarding eligibility to serve as PI should be directed to Charlotte Bronson in the Office of the Vice President for Research, 2810 Beardshear Hall, Ames, IA, 50011 (515-294-1609, cbronson@iastate.edu).
 

(i) Adjunct faculty appointments carry these possible titles: adjunct assistant professor, adjunct associate professor, and adjunct professor. These categories follow the same rules as their tenure-eligible counterparts. Unlike collaborators, affiliates and visitors, adjunct faculty are employed by the university.

(ii) Affiliates are persons appointed to the faculty, without financial obligation on the part of the university, to carry out scholarly activities from which the individual as well as the department and the university will benefit. Faculty rank will reflect scholarly qualifications equivalent to those of similar rank in the department. Unlike collaborators, affiliates are not employed on a regular basis outside the university.

(iii) Collaborators are persons not employed by the university who are appointed to the faculty with the understanding that they will receive no remuneration for services rendered to the university.

(iv) A visitor is usually a member of the faculty of another institution and is appointed at the rank held at that institution. A visitor may, however, also come from business, industry, or government, in which case the appointment is at a rank consistent with the individual's professional experience. 

 

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