Current Research Operations

Will I continue to have access to my research building?

  • On May 26, 2020, the Office of Research expired the “maintenance-only mode” of research operations (Phase 1) and expanded the scope of research operations, which is limited to 25% of on-site research activity (Phase 2).
  • Access to research buildings across campus is restricted to personnel elected by their Principal Investigator (PI) to return to campus for research activities during the limited-scale return to research.
  • There is no requirement that research personnel return to campus unless it is necessary to do so for data collection purposes. Any activity that can be performed remotely (e.g., data analyses, group meetings, manuscript preparation, etc.) should continue to be performed remotely. PIs and supervisors should be setting the expectation that all personnel work remotely, unless there is a critical task that must be performed in the lab or from the office. Please refer to the main COVID-19 page for more information.

Where can I find agency specific information and guidance regarding COVID-19?

What if I or any of the members in my research group are unable to come to campus due to reasons related to COVID-19?>

  • There is no requirement that research personnel return to campus. Any activity that can be performed remotely (e.g., data analyses, group meetings, manuscript preparation, etc.) should continue to be performed remotely. Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness should stay home.
  • Prior to coming to campus, individuals must self-screen for any new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection, and must include new signs or symptoms among their household members. All research personnel will be required to complete daily health check-ins. Daily health check-ins will be received via email.

What about my research travel? What is allowed by UTD and how is canceled travel handled on sponsored projects?

  • UT Dallas has suspended all University-related domestic and international travel. The University continues to strongly discourage personal international travel as well. If you are returning from any international destination, you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return. Please consult with the Office of International Risk and Safety.
  • As documented in the COGR guidance Opens in a new tab., if a traveler has charged (e.g., through prepayment or a travel advance) an airline ticket or other travel cost to a sponsored project and then that trip is later canceled, the credit must accrue to the sponsored project (see 2 CFR 200.406). Some airlines are offering full refunds for trips that need to be cancelled due to COVID-19; in these instances, the refund should accrue to the grant, either directly through the institution’s travel system or via reimbursement from the traveler. If a traveler cancels a trip and accrues a credit on their personal account, the traveler should follow institutional policy for how to track and manage the credit.
  • Guidance for travelers from countries planning to visit or returning from an area with community spread of COVID-19 is available from the CDC website Opens in a new tab..

How can I support my graduate students and postdocs to continue their research? Can I still pay them on my project?

  • Principal Investigators and research managers should work with each of their students and postdoctoral trainees to develop a personalized plan that allows each person to conduct research remotely to the fullest extent possible, e.g., performing data analysis, literature review, modeling and computation, writing manuscripts and applications, and planning. If the individual is working remotely and still contributing to a sponsored project the expense may still be charged to the sponsored project.
  • As of May 26, 2020, researchers have resumed limited, up to 25%, on-site research activity throughout the University. It is expected that anyone returning to campus for research will practice social distancing, utilize face masks in public areas of buildings, and practice good hygiene.

What guidance should I provide to the international postdocs, graduate students and researchers in my research group?

  • Due to the changing nature of U.S. immigration policy, the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak and its impacts on global travel, the Office of International Risk and Safety does not recommend international travel. Please visit its website for any updated information.
  • Any students returning from international travel need to contact the Dean of Students office prior to returning to campus. A 14-day self-quarantine period will be necessary.

Can I ask for a no-cost extension from my sponsor?

  • Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their grants to provide substantiation for any future no-cost extension request. It is not known if agencies will consider longer-than-normal no-cost extensions or multiple no-cost extensions in this situation, but no-cost extensions covered under expanded authorities will still be available for federal awards.

Can I bring visitors to UT Dallas research groups and facilities?

  • No. Please continue to hold all of your meetings and consultations online.

What guidelines apply to visiting scholars and visiting student researchers?

  • Note that UT Dallas visiting scholars and researchers on campus must follow all the University’s COVID-19 guidance, including regarding working remotely.
  • Visiting Scholars/Visiting Student Researchers scheduled to arrive on campus: Please consult with the Office of International Risk and Safety.

What about research involving human subjects? Updated 7/2

  • The Office of Research is suspending all in-person human subjects research activities effective immediately through August 15, 2020.
  • All human subjects activities that can take place via virtual platforms (Teams, online surveys, etc.) should be conducted virtually to avoid in-person contact.
  • We recognize there are projects that provide a direct benefit to the participant. We will review requests to continue in-person procedures on a case-by-case basis. Researchers may contact Amanda Boone for more information on how to make an exception request. 

Are there special considerations for filing an invention disclosure or a request to send or receive tangible materials for my research?

  • The Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) is fully operational and is working remotely. Complete the Technology Disclosure Form and submit it to [email protected].
  • Material transfer agreements for tangible materials to be sent to and from campus will continue to be negotiated and signed. It is unclear if service delivery disruptions will occur or if special measures will be taken by shipping and receiving units to manage or inspect the contents of shipments.

What guidelines do I or any members of my research group have to follow before engaging in COVID-19 research?

  • All principal investigators must register their protocols with the Institutional Biosafety and Chemical Safety Committee (IBCC) prior to performing any coronavirus research or work on campus (including to help state and federal agencies to screen patient samples). This includes requesting or accepting COVID-19 samples (patient or otherwise).

How can I help ensure my lab is clean and safe when conducting research? New 6/23

  • Visit the Disinfecting Labs page of the Office of Research website for information on social distancing protocols, enhanced cleaning procedures and detailed instructions for cleaning surfaces in labs and offices to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

Planning for Research Continuity

What time frame should I plan for, and what assumptions should I make?

  • Limited, up to 25%, on-site research activity throughout the University began on Tuesday, May 26. For example, in a laboratory with eight assigned students/staff, the maximum number of people allowed in the lab at a time would be two individuals, plus one PI. These individuals must be appropriately socially distanced, using face masks in public areas of buildings and practicing good hygiene.
  • To the greatest extent possible, research personnel should continue to work from home; in particular, all vulnerable individuals are encouraged to continue to work from home. Research personnel should be aware that depending on the situation, such as an outbreak of COVID-19 or Stay Home executive orders, research may have to be ramped down again within a short amount of time.
  • During the limited on-site research phase, laboratory building access should be dedicated toward data collection, whereas data analyses, group meetings, manuscript preparation, etc. should continue to be performed remotely. For the time being, no undergraduates will participate in on-site research activities.

Can I access my on-campus space to perform required, periodic maintenance of specialized laboratory equipment or support functions?

  • All research activities, including accessing on-campus space to perform periodic maintenance, are included in the limited on-site research phase of operations. Please visit the Returning to Campus Research Activities page.

How will the University decide when to move to the next Phase of research activities?

  • UT Dallas will continue to work with state and local health officials to carefully monitor the situation.

What steps should Principal Investigators (PI), research managers, and laboratory Responsible Parties (RP’s) take to create a plan for research continuity?

  • Each PI, research manager, and RP is accountable for developing and documenting their own laboratory-specific Continuity Plan, and ensuring that plan is communicated to lab members. These individual plans supplement broader continuity planning efforts undertaken by departments within the University, and the UTD Office of Emergency Management and Continuity Planning (OEMCP).
  • The Office of Research and OEMCP provide the following resources to assist laboratory personnel in developing their plans:

Who can help me with planning?

  • Research, Campus, and Environmental Safety ([email protected]) can help with interim plan development and guidance, including:
    • Risk assessment to identify those activities that may pose a hazard when unattended.
    • Safeguards to implement if high risk work will continue.
    • Handling and disposal of laboratory waste.
    • Questions relating to PPE, disinfection, and cleaning.

How should I prioritize my research activities to maximize continuity?

  • The following rubric can be found in the UT Dallas Continuity Planning and Recovery Guide for Laboratories and Research Facilities:
Priority Rating Importance Recovery Time
Critical Function directly impacts the life, health, safety, or security of the UT Dallas community and stopping would have significant consequences. < 4 hours
High Function must continue at normal or increased level. Pausing for more than 24 hours may cause significant consequences or serious harm to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, reputation, or other core mission services. < 24 hours
Medium Function must be continued if at all possible, perhaps in reduced mode. Stopping for more than one week may cause major disruption to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, or other core mission services. < 1 week
Low Function could be suspended for up to one month without causing significant disruption to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, or other core mission services. < 1 month
Deferrable Function may pause and resume when conditions permit. Deferring this function for more than one month may cause slight disruption to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, or other core mission services. > 1 month

I rely on a core facility. What continuity plans are in place for core facilities?

  • Research Core Facilities (RCF) have developed continuity plans for the facilities, but specifics for accessibility may differ. Contact RCF director Jimmy Gowrisanker or individual core managers about their plans and how to maintain your access.

What about accessing restricted or secure data from off campus?

  • These will need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis dependent on usage or contractual obligations. If you are unsure, please email [email protected] with your project ID and your intended use case for more information.

What if the “worst case” occurs and I am unable to maintain my laboratory operations?

  • Preparation now will help mitigate the impact if it becomes necessary to close out all of your laboratory operations. Please consider the prerequisites for this and their impacts. Guidance for safe laboratory close-out can be found here.

What must research laboratories do to prepare for the care of research animals in case of disruption?

  • Laboratories should be prepared to ramp down, curtail, or postpone animal research experiments if and when the need arises. For ongoing experiments, please limit or discontinue removing animals from from Lab Animal Resource Center (LARC)-managed facilities. The LARC will continue daily animal care in the vivarium and satellite housing rooms (including regular cage cleaning, feed and water assurance, and health checks). If you have animals in these areas, LARC staff will continue to care for them.

How will animal care proceed if access is limited?

  • The from Lab Animal Resource Center (LARC) expects to continue to provide regular care to LARC-maintained animals. The LARC has developed plans to respond to a variety of curtailment or reduced staffing scenarios, and will communicate directly with relevant PIs if campus circumstances change. Please discuss plans with LARC leadership if you have questions.