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Eligibility Requirements

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Eligibility Requirements to Serve as a Principal Investigator/Project Director or Co-Principal Investigator/Co-Project Director at The University of Southern Mississippi

This document defines who can serve as a Principal Investigator (also called a Project Director) or Co-Principal Investigator (or Co-Project Director) on externally funded projects at The University of Southern Mississippi. (External sponsors may have different eligibility requirements for PI/PD or Co-PI/Co-PD.)


Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD): The individual with responsibility to direct and supervise all scientific, educational, technical, or other programmatic aspects of the externally funded project. The PI/PD is responsible for the 1) conduct and supervision of the research, program, service, or other activity, 2) proper fiscal management of the project, 3) completion of required reporting, and 4) programmatic record keeping.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) or Co-Project Director (Co-P): A collaborator at USM who shares responsibility for the entire project with the PI/PD, or who leads a major subcomponent of the project.  


The PI/PD:

  • Must be appointed as a faculty member or staff member of USM at the time the proposal is submitted, AND
  • Must be qualified to lead the project both technically and administratively, AND
  • Must not be in a position that is intended to be temporary (such as postdoctoral, adjunct, and visiting appointments). Those in a temporary position who wish to serve as a PI require approval of the Vice President for Research along with the appropriate chair and dean.

Newly hired faculty and staff not yet resident at USM but who are submitting proposals through USM ahead of their arrival may be PIs with approval of the department chair and dean.

Approval to serve as a PI/PD is indicated by the signature of the appropriate department chair and dean, and Vice President for Research if necessary, on the Internal Approval Form.

A Co-PI/Co-PD must meet the same requirements as a PI/PD described above.

State Law on Nepotism

State nepotism law prohibits a PI/PD from supervising a person related by blood or marriage (see Mississippi Code SEC. 25-1-53). If individuals related by blood or marriage are both qualified to serve as PIs, they shall be appointed to the project with equal responsibility as Principal Investigators.

Gordon Cannon, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research
September 2015

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