UNM Eligibility for Principal Investigator Status (Main Campus & Branches)

All externally funded projects conducted at the University of New Mexico are expected to be consistent with the teaching, research, and service missions of the University. All projects are, therefore, carried out within departments, centers or institutes, or other administrative units under the direction of a faculty member or comparable professional employee.

By limiting principal investigator/project director status to a limited set of designated individuals and/or job categories, and by procuring appropriate dean and department head approval, the University is assured that the proposed research is consistent with its missions and that the necessary space, equipment, facilities and qualified personnel are available to conduct the proposed project. In all cases, the individual designated as Principal Investigator or Project Director are judged to be qualified to conduct an independent research or other educational project. Per federal rules, PIs/PDs are required to take Grants Management training (GMT 100) within 30 days of receiving their first award and must get recertified every three years thereafter. PIs and Co-PIs can take the GMT100 course by logging into learning central https://learningcentral.unm.edu/ and searching for the GMT 100 course

Faculty members automatically eligible to serve as Principal Investigators/Project Directors or Co-PI/Co-PD include:

  • All full-time tenure/tenure-track faculty regardless of academic rank
  • Research faculty
  • Visiting professors during the time they are on the University payroll*
  • Members of the emeritus faculty

Holders of Letters of Academic Title may serve as a PI if that role has been requested and approved by the EVP of Academic Affairs in the original Request for Issuance of Letter of Academic Title.

*Visiting professors must have a permanent UNM faculty member as a Co-PI or must complete a PI Eligibility Exception form.

Professional staff members normally eligible to serve as Principal Investigators/Project Directors or Co-PI/Co-PD include those who hold titles typically associated with independent activity and whose appointment is subject to a rigorous review of credentials. This includes:

  • Full-time staff in classified positions at or above Grade 15
  • Others (including Post-Doctoral Fellows) as designated by the approval of the appropriate academic chair, category III center director or vice president using the PI Eligibility Exception form

Students as Principal Investigators or Co-PI

The Office of the Vice President for Research acknowledges the importance of permitting graduate students (and in rare instances undergraduate students) to lead sponsored projects where appropriate. There are several sponsors who offer pre-doctoral grants whereby the work is conceived of and carried out entirely by a graduate student. In these cases, a faculty member is identified as a mentor and oversees the project nominally. (examples: NASA: Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship Program (JPFP), NIH: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships (F31) to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research, NIH: Predoctoral Training at the Interface of the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences, DOE: The National Methane Hydrates R&D Program - Graduate Fellowship Program).

To that end, the PI Eligibility Exception form may be used to permit the graduate student to have this role. The required completed form must be sent to the Office of Sponsored Projects, at least ten (10) working days before the deadline for submittal of the proposal to the funding agency. Also, the graduate student’s faculty mentor must be identified in the proposal summary area of Cayuse SP.

There are still other sponsors for whom the need for submission and approval from an Authorized Representative of the University is not required. The student may submit these applications directly to the sponsor without coordination with the Office of Sponsored Projects, or a PI Eligibility Exception form (examples include: NSF Fellowship, Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships for Achieving Excellence in College and University Teaching). If you have questions, contact the Office of Sponsored Projects at 277-4186 or osp@unm.edu.

Who Usually Cannot Serve as a PI?

Categories of employment normally considered ineligible to serve as Principal Investigator/ Project Director are graduate student research assistants and fellows; visiting scholars and other short-term appointees. In special cases, exceptions may be made. These special cases require completion of the PI Eligibility Exception form signed by department chair, dean or category III center director that delineates why an exception should be made, specifies the qualifications of the individual to serve as Principal Investigator/Project Director and identifies the UNM employee who will be responsible for ensuring the scope of work is completed. The completed form must be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Projects before a proposal can be submitted.