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Principal Investigator Eligibility Information

Eligible titles

A person holding any one of the following titles is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator:

  • Professor
  • Research Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Research Associate Professor
  • Assistant Professor
  • Research Assistant Professor
  • Research Scientists of Grade 10 and above
  • PNNL Affiliate Professor

Emeritus faculty may hold the role of P.I. (or M.P.I.) provided that the department Chair/Director approves the e-GC1.

Postdoctoral Scholars

A post-doctoral scholar cannot be P.I. nor can they have the role of MPI – multiple P.I., on an eGC1 but they can have the SAGE eGC1 role of applicant P.I. when applying for a post-doctoral fellowship.

The post-doc’s faculty mentor would be P.I. on the UW eGC1 in SAGE. The post-doc as applicant-PI would have the lead role on the outside sponsor fellowship application.

Post-docs can be senior personnel on research proposals and may have the role of co-Investigator if the department approves. However, if the project P.I. leaves or stops being P.I., a post-doc cannot assume the role of P.I.

Other Eligible Titles

Persons holding the following titles may also be eligible, subject to review and approval by the Department Chair and Vice Dean on a case-by-case basis:

  • Director (of a major program and/or Center)
  • Visiting, Teaching, Lecturer, Acting Titles
  • Temporary Affiliate appointments for faculty being hired into a permanent non-affiliate research and tenure-track faculty position
  • Research Scientist/Engineer Grade 9

Eligibility to serve as Principal Investigator on research proposals originating from the College of Engineering will normally be limited to CoE staff members in professional staff grades 9 and above who are employed in a research capacity.

Persons in Grade 9 who possess a PhD and/or MD degree and have clearly demonstrated an ability to perform independent research may be designated Principal Investigators at the discretion of the Chair, CoE HR and Vice Dean, provided they meet the criteria specified below.  Consideration for application of an RSE to be PI must be submitted no less than 4 weeks in advance of proposal preparation.

Researchers employed in lower grades may be named on proposals, but not as Principal Investigators.

Criteria for PI Consideration

  • Works independently with occasional oversight
  • Performs applied independent problem solving requiring the application of existing and emerging scientific or engineering knowledge
  • Develops new research or engineering methods and approaches; contributes toward development of strategies for problem solution

  • Understands broad strategic objectives and contributes to them; nurtures and maintains relationships with major customers, grant sponsors, and/or investigators of externally-funded research to identify and develop new R&D projects and funding sources; identifies project expansions or extensions and persuades customers/grant sponsors to fund; and develops technical proposals and makes presentations to potential customers/grant sponsors
  • Successfully manages multiple or significant projects, tasks or teams; which may require the use of sophisticated project planning techniques; evaluates proposed or ongoing projects; and interfaces with customer/grant sponsors and relevant CoE and UW supporting components, including UW research management and CoE for existing or proposed projects.

  • Provides ideas to improve organizational efficiency at group and department levels; identifies and evaluates recruits for open positions; mentors juniors staff in development of technical, project and business development skills; monitors the work of others and redirects efforts to achieve tasks/project objectives or enhance quality
  • Recognized for technical contributions by external peer networks; participates in agency workshops or committees, chair sessions at technical meetings, and/or gives invited papers

  • Doctoral and/or Medical degree in relevant field with 1-2 years of experience; or
  • Master’s Degree in relevant field with 3-4 years of experience; or
  • Bachelor’s Degree in relevant field with 5-7 years of experience.

Process for PI Consideration

To submit a request for approval, fill out the PI Exemption Form and submit to the Director of Research, at and Aileen Trilles, Director of Human Resources, at

This form must be signed by the applicant, the department chair and the Director of HR and the Vice Dean for Research. The Director of Research will return the fully signed form to the eGC1 preparer to be attached to the eGC1 prior to routing.

Requests for review and consideration for approval by the Dean’s Office HR Director and Vice Dean for Research must be submitted no less than 4 weeks in advance of proposal preparation.

Requests will be considered within 7-10 business days. Eligibility to serve as a PI does not guarantee the University will approve any particular proposal developed by the PI-eligible employee.

The University may exercise its discretion in designating the PI for any proposal, irrespective of the contributions of an individual to the development of the proposal.

RSE Assistant – 4

RSE Assistant – 4 are covered by UAW-RSE Contract.  Refer to Article 25 – PI Eligibility for additional information.