PI Academy - NIU - Division of Research & Innovation Partnerships

PI Academy for Research and Engagement

Research and engaged learning are central to the mission of NIU.  In support of these efforts, the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships sponsors the Principal Investigator (PI) Academy for Research and Engagement to help faculty position themselves for external funding and thriving research careers. 

Overview of the PI Academy

The PI Academy offers professional development to early career tenure-seeking faculty.  However, all faculty with demonstrated potential and a clear expectation for attracting external funding for their research, public service, or other scholarly activities may participate in the Academy.  As part of the Academy, faculty are simultaneously positioned to provide engaged learning opportunities for students through their research, service, and scholarly activities. The Academy consists of the following two components:

Professional Development Series

This component offers information and insight about the range of activities of a successful investigator including competitive positioning, grant writing, project management, research compliance, responsible conduct of research, working with sponsoring agencies, and sustaining funding over the long-term. Participants will learn how to develop and sustain successful working relationships with NIU offices involved in research support.

Engaged learning supports student career success. As such, the Professional Development series also includes a framework for understanding the process of engaged learning, as well as specific information about accessing NIU resources for incorporating engaged learning into research and teaching.

External Mentorship Program (EMP)

On a limited and competitive basis, the Academy also supports the research culture by bringing respected scholars to campus for lectures, colloquiums, and possible meetings with students. 

A limited number of early career tenure-seeking faculty are matched with a senior mentor from another U.S. institution.  The mentor should be a successful senior faculty member in an appropriate area of specialization and will be invited to campus to meet with the NIU faculty, conduct a presentation open to the NIU scholarly community, and interact in an informal setting with the scholar and members of NIU academic leadership. Most importantly, the mentor will work with the NIU faculty over the ensuing year by providing advice and mentoring around one grant proposal or publication.

Nominations for the EMP are solicited from department Chairs in the summer, with the final decision made by the Vice President for Research and Innovative Partnerships and a review committee convened by the VP. Successful candidates will have already begun to position themselves as active researchers. Nominations will be evaluated on a combination of factors including publication record, prior grant experience, prior grant submission, pilot work, and documented interest in engaging students in their research, scholarly or artistic endeavors. Chairs will complete the EMP nomination form and obtain approval from the College Dean or the College’s Associate Dean for Research, as appropriate.