Note: A new version of this document applies to all proposals submitted or due on or after May 20, 2024. Learn more about the PAPPG.

Exhibit II-3: Definitions of Categories of Personnel

The personnel categories listed on parts A and B of the Proposal Budget are defined as follows:

  1. Senior Personnel

    For purposes of NSF, senior personnel include:

    1. (co) Principal Investigator (PI) -- the individuals designated by the proposing/recipient organization and approved by the Federal research funding agency who contribute in a substantive, meaningful way to the scientific development or execution of a research and development project proposed to be carried out with a research and development award. NSF does not infer any distinction in scientific stature among multiple PIs, whether referred to as PI or co-PI. If more than one, the first one listed will serve as the contact PI, with whom all communications between NSF program officials and the project relating to the scientific, technical, and budgetary aspects of the project should take place. The PI and any identified co-PIs, however, will be jointly responsible for submission of the requisite project reports. For purposes of this document, when used throughout, the term Principal Investigator also includes Project Director (PD), and the term co-PI also includes co-PD.


    2. Faculty Associate (faculty member) (or equivalent) -- an individual other than the Principal Investigator(s) considered by the performing institution to be a member of its faculty (or equivalent) or who holds an appointment as a faculty member at another institution, and who will participate in the project being supported.


  2. Other Personnel

    Any personnel category for which NSF funds are requested must indicate, in the parentheses provided on the Proposal Budget, the number of persons expected to receive some support from those funds.

    • 1.Postdoctoral (Scholar, Fellow, or Other Postdoctoral Position) - an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path. Postdoctoral scholars not identified under Senior Personnel above should be listed as Other Personnel.


    • 2. Other Professional - a person who may or may not hold a doctoral degree or its equivalent, who is considered a professional and is not reported as a Principal Investigator, faculty associate, postdoctoral scholar, or student. Examples of persons included in this category are doctoral associates not reported under B1, professional technicians, physicians, veterinarians, system experts, computer programmers, and design engineers.


    • 3. Graduate Student (research assistant) - a part-time or full-time student working on the project in a research capacity who holds at least a bachelor's degree and is enrolled in a degree program leading to an advanced degree.


    • 4. Undergraduate Student - a student who is enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a bachelor's or associate's degree.


    • 5. & 6. These categories include persons working on the project in a non-research capacity, such as secretaries, clerk-typists, draftsmen, animal caretakers, electricians, and custodial personnel regardless of whether they hold a degree or are involved in degree work.