Guidance for Research Activities

Looking for Funding Opportunities Related to COVID-19?

RED’s Center for Research Excellence is maintaining a database of funding opportunities related to COVID-19. This searchable database is being updated as new opportunities are announced. If you have questions about these or other funding resources or need help with a customized funding search for your project, contact Susan Robinson by email or at 704-687-1869.

In addition, RED has announced a special call of its Ignite Planning Grants Program for proposals responding to funding opportunities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  These Ignite flash grants will be accepted on a rolling basis until September 1, 2020.  Click here for the Request for Proposals.  For more information, contact Lesley Brown, Director of the Center for Research Excellence, at 704-687-1880 or by email.

Research and Economic Development Operations

All RED offices are currently open and operating remotely.  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.

Research Town Hall and Open Forum (held April 7, 2020)

Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Rick Tankersley gave a brief presentation on the status of UNC Charlotte's research operations, the impact of the CARE act on research funding, and some initiatives underway to help us maintain our research momentum. Click here to view the slides from his presentation.

Continuity of Research Operations and On-campus Activities

Consistent with the UNC System’s directive to reduce campus population density, the University has taken 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.  Access to campus research facilities, including laboratories and buildings, is currently restricted to authorized personnel with key or card-swipe access.  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 to be filed with the supervising department or unit 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 near future to an online format using Webex. Committee members will receive instructions from their committee chairs.

Ignite and CLIPP

Ignite awards for 2020 will be announced soon.  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.

Catalyst Programs

We are no longer accepting applications for this year's Catalyst programs, both STEM+ and Arts and Humanities.  Preparations are being made to deliver this year's program virtually.

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 (tmcmannen@uncc.edu). For changes to Faculty Research Grants, contact Lesley Brown (labrown@uncc.edu). 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.

Federal Agency Guidance on Proposal Submission and Award Management

Many 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

NASA:

Coronavirus information

NIH:

NOT-OD-20-082; NIH Late Application Policy Due to Public Health Emergency for United States for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

NOT-OD-20-083; General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Proposal Submission and Award Management Related to COVID-19

NSF:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposers and Awardees