Skip to main content
  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

(Senior) Research Associate

Senior Research Associate
Research Associate

Senior research associates are members of the research staff with a very high degree of experience and training in research. They have made extensive contributions to the scholarly discipline. Senior research associates normally are responsible to a member of the faculty but may serve, within certain limitations, as principal investigator on a grant or contract. They are responsible for independently designing and implementing research projects or programs. Their specific duties may include, but are not limited to, planning, conducting, and reporting on original research; designing, constructing, or operating state-of-the-art research apparatus; and supervising the overall research operations of a laboratory or facility. They may serve as minor members on graduate students’ special committees. They usually have extensive contacts with graduate students and informally guide their research. Although senior research associates may teach courses consistent with the terms of the funding of the position, normally they do not teach.

Research associates contribute, in collaboration with a principal investigator or faculty sponsor, to the design and implementation of research projects or programs. Research associates can be principal investigators on grants or contracts only on an exception basis. Their specific duties may include, but are not limited to, planning, conducting, and reporting original research; designing, constructing, or operating highly complex research apparatus; and supervising the research operations of a laboratory or facility. Research associates informally participate in graduate research training, but they may not be members of graduate committees, except as ad hoc additional, supplementary members. Research associates normally have no responsibilities for formal teaching but may participate in seminars or specialized portions of courses to an extent consistent with the terms of the funding of the position.

Senior research associates and research associates are not members of the University Faculty. Senior research associates are nonvoting members of their college or school faculty unless given the right to vote by the particular faculty. Each college or school faculty, at its discretion, may grant voting or non-voting membership to research associates.

Administrative Notes

  • These titles reflect salaried positions that are subject to affirmative action regulations.
  • Appointments of senior research associates and research associates require the Ph.D. (or the equivalent terminal degree in the discipline) in a field appropriate to the position. With the approval of the dean the M.D. or D.V.M. may be accepted in lieu of the Ph.D. Appointments are made for terms of up to five years for senior research associates and up to three years for research associates; both are renewable. Appointments are subject to the availability of funds, although notice provisions for non-renewal or for early termination of appointment pertain. When the position is supported by non-university funds, the  offering letter must state that the appointment/reappointment may be terminated or modified if funding is withdrawn or reduced. Reappointment is based on quality of performance and the availability of work and funds.
  • The senior research associate and research associate titles reflect academic positions and should not be used for those whose positions are primarily administrative, even if the responsibilities of the position include research.
  • Individuals may be appointed directly to the senior research associate title or be promoted to it from the position of research associate. To initiate a promotion review, the head of the research program asks the candidate to supply a personal statement of past research accomplishments and future goals together with a curriculum vitae that includes publications, honors and awards, service to professional organizations, and other relevant professional activities. These materials must accompany a covering letter from the head of the research program to the chair or director. The letter should address the candidate’s performance, contributions to scholarship, and standing in the field. The department chair or the director solicits letters of recommendation from known experts (at Cornell and/or elsewhere) who provide candid, confidential assessments of the candidate’s achievements. The chair or director then forwards the dossier and makes a written recommendation, either positive or negative, to the dean or the vice provost for research for final disposition.

Last Updated: August 20, 2017 at 7:22 am