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Campus Research Activities Update

March 19, 2020

COVID-19 is a challenging situation for us — our research teams, students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and faculty. We encourage all research teams to discuss how best to carry out research objectives while slowing the spread of COVID-19. The continued health and safety of our community, and of our families, friends and neighbors is our top priority.

To reduce the threat of COVID-19, we must aggressively embrace social distancing. We are fully aware of the difficulties reduced on-campus activity poses and we are working closely with campus leadership and your colleges/schools to lessen the impact on your research program, your professional advancement, and the advancement of your students and staff.

In an effort to accomplish this, we are instituting the following campus-wide directives:

  • All research that CAN be accomplished remotely should proceed and be done remotely until further notification.
  • All on-site research activities must be approved by a dean or director, who are directed to only approve essential research, based on their judgement.  Examples of essential research includes research that has the potential to address the COVID-19 crisis, human-subjects research that would endanger research participant lives if stopped, or projects where termination of the research would lead to loss of long-running experimental data, critical time-series or time-sensitive data, loss of equipment, or to the loss of life of critical research-related organisms.  There, of course, may be other examples.  Please recognize, however, that campus staffing has been reduced sharply due to COVID-19.  Most support personnel have been directed to telecommute, from hazardous material staff to biosafety. Public health and campus guidance also requires social distancing to minimize face-to-face interactions. Additionally, some personal protective equipment is in critical shortage and must be made available for patients, health care workers, those caring for research animals, and the types of research efforts described above.  In short, the on-campus research enterprise must be curtailed.


  • Identify employees who are critical to maintaining basic animal and plant care, along with the maintenance of cell lines, equipment, and liquid nitrogen and helium stocks. Continue or expand cross-training among your staff to support these activities.
  • Identify critical equipment (including computers) that must remain in service, then plan for how to manage or shut down this equipment if necessary.
  • Stagger approved on-campus research activity so that minimal laboratory personnel are present at any one time, in accordance with CDC guidelines and campus guidance.
  • Projects that involve work with hazardous material or processes must occur within business hours and also have the approval of your School/College Deans (or unit heads for OVCRGE Center labs).
  • All face-to-face human subjects research interactions are suspended, except for therapeutic studies involving drugs or devices, or those critical to the health and safety of patients or study participants.
  • Suspend plans to order and ship animals. Researchers should consider reduction or cessation of non-critical animal breeding, including agricultural animals and USDA-covered species.
  • No external visitors are allowed in labs or animal facilities.
  • Research computing resources are expected to remain remotely accessible online to investigators working at home. Identify individuals who can access remote or on-campus computing resources in case of the need to ‘restart’, or provide other emergency service, to a computer/server.
  • Some federal agencies are revising grant policies. Research and Sponsored Programs is providing updates to sponsored research on its COVID-19 webpage.
  • All campus-affiliated facilities and labs, whether on-campus or off-campus, are subject to these restrictions.

Please also note that RSP is open and processing grant submissions. To assure processing, please get proposals to RSP in a timely fashion. Individuals are teleworking.  Do not wait to submit proposals at the last minute.

No matter where you are conducting your work, please wash your hands frequently, disinfect shared environmental surfaces, and practice social distancing. All students, postdocs, staff, and faculty that are exhibiting signs of illness should stay at home.

Please know that we are here to help you navigate this challenging terrain. We ask that each of you look out for one another and those in your communities. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

For updates on the campus response to COVID-19, please find more information online.