Postdoctoral Scholar PI Eligibility and Approval Process
College of Arts and Sciences, University of Washington
July 12, 2019
Postdoctoral Scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences may be eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD) for individual proposals under the circumstances described below. Departments and schools within the College should determine whether they will allow the Postdoctoral Scholars they employ to apply to become PI/PDs and establish and consistently apply unit-specific PI/PD eligibility policies that may include additional criteria.
- have received a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or equivalent);
- are appointed for a temporary and defined period not to exceed five (5) years, including postdoctoral experiences at other institutions (with exceptions for extraordinary circumstances related to family leave or illness, as determined by Academic Personnel);
- are engaged in full-time mentored advanced training to enhance professional skills and research independence;
- perform primarily research and scholarship under the direction and supervision of University faculty mentors.
Principal Investigator (PI): an individual who has primary responsibility for the design, execution, and management of a research project and who will be involved in the project in a significant manner.
Project Director (PD): an individual who has primary responsibility for the design, execution, and management of a training or public service project and who will be involved in the project in a significant manner.
Multiple PI or Co-PI: when allowed by the sponsor, there must be more than one PI/PD with equal responsibility and authority for the project. (The University’s eGC1 approval process uses the term Multiple PI, NIH uses the term Multiple PI, and NSF uses the term Co-PI.)
Mentor: Member of the University faculty who provides direction and supervision for the Postdoctoral Scholar.
- At any time during their appointment at the University of Washington, a Postdoctoral Scholar may apply to serve as a PI/PD on proposals that are restricted to Postdoctoral Scholars, as long as the terms of the award do not extend beyond the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment eligibility at the University of Washington.
- At any time during their appointment at the University of Washington, a Postdoctoral Scholar may apply to serve as a Multiple PI/Co-PI on a proposal where at least one of the other PI/PDs is an individual with authorization to serve as a PI/PD at the University of Washington. In these situations, at least one PI/PD must hold an appointment at the University of Washington other than Postdoctoral Scholar.
- A Postdoctoral Scholar may apply to serve as the PI/PD for an individual proposal that is not restricted to Postdoctoral Scholars when the following conditions are met:
- The proposed project complies with all UW and College of Arts and Science grants policies and rules.
- The proposed project budget includes any or all of the following:
- Salary and benefits for the Postdoctoral Scholar
- Salary and benefits for undergraduate students
- Partial salary and benefits for individuals whose UW supervisor is someone other than the Postdoctoral Scholar, including other academic personnel, technical or administrative staff, or graduate students
- Equipment, materials and supplies
- Fees for conferences, training, professional development, etc.
- Indirect costs, including prorated direct costs
- The proposed project budget does not include any of the following:
- Salary and benefits for other individuals who would be supervised by the Postdoctoral Scholar, including other academic personnel, technical or administrative staff, or graduate students
- Space-related costs (e.g., rent, utilities, maintenance)
- The term of the proposed project does not begin before the third year of the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment eligibility. The first two years of experience as a Postdoctoral Scholar can be either at the University of Washington or at another institution.
- The term of the proposed project does not extend beyond the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment eligibility at the University of Washington.
- The Postdoctoral Scholar must participate in an in-person Faculty Grants Management workshop prior to the project’s start date.
- The Postdoctoral Scholar must complete all other relevant additional trainings (e.g., safety) prior to the project’s start date.
- A Postdoctoral Scholar may apply to transfer a project that was already awarded at another institution where they were the PI/PD of the proposal. Eligibility restrictions in (3) above apply except that the project term may begin upon the date the award is transferred. The term of the project still may not extend beyond the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment eligibility at the University of Washington.
Responsibilities of Postdoctoral Scholar Mentors
- The Postdoctoral Scholar’s Mentor should provide guidance and training to the Postdoctoral Scholar with respect to proposal preparation, their unit’s proposal submission process and deadlines, and post-award administration.
- With rare exception, space for the Postdoctoral Scholar’s proposed project will be allocated from the Mentor’s space and should follow the respective unit’s space allocation policy.
Responsibilities of Employing Units
Units that authorize Postdoctoral Scholars to become PI/PDs for individual proposals should expect to see some additional administrative costs. Specifically:
- Most Postdoctoral Scholars are 100% funded by external grant funding. As such, care should be taken to ensure the unit has a policy and resources in place to provide equitable access to funds to support a portion (e.g., 2-5%) of a Postdoctoral Scholar’s salary and benefits for the month in which a Postdoctoral Scholar submits a proposal to ensure compliance with effort reporting requirements. This percentage of funding should follow unit norms for PIs who are usually on 100% grant funding.
- The employing unit should expect to provide the standard level of support to a Postdoctoral Scholar who has been approved to submit a proposal as a PI/PD with respect to both pre- and post-award administration.
Postdoctoral Scholars who are interested in serving as a PI/PD for a specific project proposal must discuss their interest and goals with their Mentor. If it is agreed that the project will support the Postdoctoral Scholar’s Individual Development Plan, the Postdoctoral Scholar must then:
- Confirm that the proposal will meet the eligibility criteria above, as well as any additional unit-specific criteria.
- Fill out the Postdoctoral Scholar PI/PD Approval Form, obtaining approvals from their Mentor, their unit Chair/Director, and the Dean’s Office.
- Attach the completed Postdoctoral Scholar PI/PD Approval Form to the eGC1 in the "internal documents for Dept/School/College" section.
[i] The summary of a Postdoctoral Scholar Definition is included for convenience. For the complete definition, please see the collective bargaining agreement found on the UW’s Human Resources website.