Research and Economic Development Operations
Like many campus offices, the RED staff has successfully transitioned to working remotely. All RED offices are currently open and operational. We are taking full advantage of online and virtual communication tools, including Webex, Google Chat, and Google Hangouts. Faculty and staff are highly encouraged to communicate directly with RED offices via email, phone, video, or chat. If you need assistance or run into a problem connecting with an office or staff member, please contact the RED Hotline at 704-687-8428.
Continuity of Research Operations and On-campus Activities
Consistent with the UNC System’s directive to reduce campus population density, the University is taking steps to minimize research activities that rely on campus laboratories, equipment, and facilities. Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to work remotely and to engage in social distancing practices when conducting on-campus research. By March 17, access to campus research facilities, including laboratories and buildings, will be restricted to authorized personnel with key or card-swipe access. In anticipation, PIs are asked to develop and implement research continuity plans that limit on-campus activities to those who are critical to maintaining vital research assets, experiments, and data collections. Plans should be filed with the supervising department or unit and should focus on preserving and advancing existing lines of research, keeping research team members safe, and ensuring facilities and resources are secure. PIs are encouraged to consider the following questions when developing their plan:
- What research activities and experiments are most critical? Can any of them be postponed or scaled back to decrease the need for staff to work on campus or near each other?
- Can any of the critical on-campus activities be spread out or staggered in time to minimize contact between personnel? Have staff members been trained on social distancing practices?
- What steps will you take to reduce exposure to the virus and increase the cleanliness of research areas, including frequent disinfecting and sanitation of work surfaces, common and high-touch areas, and equipment?
- Do all employees have the necessary technology and systems access to work remotely, including participating in research group/lab meetings?
- How will the research team communicate while teleworking?
- Do all employees have access to emergency contact information? Lab safety procedures and protocols?
- Who will be responsible for specific functions/tasks? Have backups been identified in case the primary staff member is unable to work or complete the task?
- Are there enough critical supplies on-hand? How will unexpected delays in the availability or delivery of supplies, chemicals, or specimens impact the research?
- Are high-risk materials and sensitive areas secured?
- How will critical pieces of equipment, animals, plants, cell lines, cultures, and data assets be maintained?
- Have plans been made to cancel or postpone any in-person human subject research?
You should be actively developing plans to protect ongoing research projects as we move towards a 4-8-week period of minimum or reduced activity and public movement.
Committee Meetings and Operations
We are working with the chairs of the research committees, including IACUC, IRB, Conflict of Interest, Patent, Biosafety, and the Research Administration Advisory Council (RAAC), to move all scheduled meetings for the rest of the semester to an online format using Webex. Committee members should expect to receive instructions from their committee chairs in the near future.
Ignite and CLIPP
Ignite awards for 2020 will be announced later this week. Awardees will be encouraged to move forward, if possible, with grant planning activities. Any Ignite-related travel should follow current and future restrictions governing University-sponsored travel.
The Center for Research Excellence will continue to accept applications for CLIPP proposals and will continue to host meetings and coordinate proposal preparation and review activities using virtual technology.
We have extended the deadline for this year's Catalyst programs, both STEM+ and Arts and Humanities, to next Monday, March 23. Applications should be submitted electronically to Lesley Brown at email@example.com. Although we still hope to offer the program in a traditional, in-person format, we are preparing to deliver the program virtually, if needed.
Extensions to Research Awards
Faculty with University-sponsored Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Grants or Faculty Research Grants with timelines that may be impacted by the change in campus operations may need to carry over expenditures to FY2021. For changes to Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Grants, contact Tonya McMannen (firstname.lastname@example.org). For changes to Faculty Research Grants, contact Lesley Brown (email@example.com). Faculty with externally sponsored awards that anticipate needing to request a no-cost extension (NCE) to an existing award should work with the Office of Grants and Contracts administration to contact the cognizant program officer for their award. The form for requesting an NCE is available here.
Research Related Travel
Sponsored research travel is considered University-sponsored travel. Thus, any restrictions on University travel applies to travel supported by external grants or contracts. Currently, travel to all in-state gatherings of 50 or more people is suspended and all travel outside the state (including international travel) is suspended, unless an exception is authorized by the Chancellor or Provost. University P-cards should not be used to book flights or accommodations unless an exception has been granted.
Research Employees, including Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants
Research employees, including undergraduate and graduate RAs and technicians, should follow guidance provided for all University employees. All research staff, including student workers, should coordinate with their supervisors to discuss tasks that can be completed remotely or safely on campus through social distancing protocols.
PORTAL and Millennial Campus Operations
All Millennial campus spaces licensed to University Business Partners (UBP), including offices in PORTAL, are open. Authorized UBP staff may need to use their University-issued key card to access facilities. Partners are encouraged to contact Gail Keene at 704-687-8286 if they have any questions about the operational status of the Millennial campus.
Links to Federal Agency Guidance on Proposal Submission and Award Management
Many of the federal sponsors have released information on the impact of the COVID-19 on their operations, including potential changes to proposal submission deadlines. Below are links to documents that were released over the past few weeks. We will post additional documents on the RED website as they become available. Moreover, the Council on Government Relations (COGR) has curated guidance from several federal agencies here.