Memo from Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Matthew Mench regarding research continuity during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
I am writing to echo the recent note from the Chancellor, that we are continuing to operate at our present state of greatly reduced research activity, which is limited to that which is absolutely necessary for student graduation, required maintenance, and to meet required milestones for externally sponsored programs.
New experimental activity which meets these critical needs that can be completed in one or two days may also occur, but new long-term experiments should not be initiated unless approved as essential. All other activity should be conducted off-campus to maximize health-related safety of all in the community.
We ask that research advisors make sure that all students that do not need to be in the lab or the office for these critical research activities are working remotely. Please continue to be creative and flexible in assigning remote work such as reading, research planning, proposal writing, and data analysis.
All remaining lab activities are, without exception, to be safely operated including the addition of maximum social distancing, maintaining clean surfaces, smart scheduling and other safe hygiene practices.
If there is concern of potentially unsafe practices occurring in labs or common areas, please report these to the responsible supervisor for resolution as soon as possible.
Besides computers and other basic connectivity equipment, students, staff and faculty should not attempt to take research equipment off-site to continue work at home, where the basic campus infrastructure would be unable to assist and help assure safe conditions.
If the status changes in the future, we will inform you through email and online. ORED-specific updates can be found at research.utk.edu/covid-19 , and overall university updates can be found at utk.edu/coronavirus. UTIA has also compiled valuable resources specific to the needs and concerns of its faculty and programs at utia.tennessee.edu/coronavirus.
UT’s ORED and UTIA AgResearch Office remain open for business (remotely) and are encouraging new proposal submissions. ORED has posted funding opportunities related to COVID-19 and will continue to update the website as new ones come available.
I appreciate that all of you have been working hard to convey these research messages and provide guidance to those affected. We have a primary responsibility to ensure safety of everyone in the community by continuing to reduce our on-campus research activity to only that which is critically needed, while enabling our students to make progress required for graduation where possible.
Campus leadership at the college, departmental and lab levels has a critical role in this effort through helping to ensure that research is reduced to the minimum critical level at this time.
Matthew M. Mench
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research