Requesting information on essential research activities

This message to all faculty and staff has been approved by Dr. Gary K. Ostrander, Vice President for Research.


To protect our campus community from the spread of COVID-19, at some point it MAY become necessary to suspend on-campus research activities. We are NOT at that point yet.

Should we need to suspend research activity, we will announce a specific timeframe for ramp down (likely 2-3 days) to allow for a safe and efficient suspension of research activity. Today we are requesting that you identify any essential research activity that would need to be maintained during a suspension of on-campus research, and the personnel who would need to enter the campus.

Essential research activities are those that are critical to maintaining the future viability of research and must be approved by the OVPR. The following are some examples of essential research and research-related activities that would be allowed to continue during a suspension:

  • Projects directly related to COVID-19;
  • Clinical activities with a potential of harm to participants in the case of cessation;
  • Activities that ensure the continued viability of living organisms or samples;
  • Activities that keep critical equipment and infrastructure safe;
  • Activities which, if discontinued, would pose a safety hazard;
  • Activities where the nature of the work is essential to avoiding severe loss of equipment, critical samples and/or data.

We expect such requests to be rare, and they must be submitted via the cognizant Chair and Dean to the VPR ( by noon Friday, March 27, 2020. These requests should include:

  • A description of essential research activities that must continue and/or critical equipment that must be maintained;
  • Building and room number(s) of laboratory or other research space that will be accessed;
  • A list of essential research personnel with cell phone number and email address and that of the senior faculty member responsible for the program;
  • A plan of work that essential personnel will perform and how safety will be addressed for research hazards, and sanitization and social distancing protocols to minimize potential coronavirus exposure for the duration of the shutdown.

The OVPR will make the final determination of which research activities may continue on campus.

Essential Research Personnel are defined as follows.

  • Faculty and/or research staff necessary to maintain irreplaceable and/or perishable research materials;
  • Personnel responsible for maintenance of equipment that would otherwise be damaged;
  • Personnel responsible for animal care;
  • Personnel responsible for continuing critical research.

At this point it is impossible to determine how long a suspension would need to be in place, so please think about longer-term as well as short-term shutdown. EH&S has provided a laboratory hibernation checklist to help you think through the process should we come to that step.

Under no conditions are research equipment, organisms, chemicals, materials, etc., to be taken off-campus. Only remote research, defined as that which can be done remotely and does not require laboratory equipment and supplies, will be allowed unless approved by the Office of the Vice President (OVPR). Please note that a campus research suspension would not be a full closure of the university; classes and other essential university business will continue to occur. It is our intent to continue the critical research missions of the university while minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, but safety must come first.

Please consult the Research FAQ, available at and updated regularly, for further information.  The OVPR has also distributed guidance about research continuity.

We understand that your research is critically important, and during this period we urge you to devote your time to activities that may be accomplished primarily outside the laboratory. In addition to writing and analysis, we also expect to sustain access to research computing resources during this time.

Finally, we thank you for your patience during this difficult time. We will all continue to work together to get through this and resume normal activities.

Please direct all questions to the OVPR.

Gary K. Ostrander


Laurel Fulkerson


Kerry Peluso