Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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On-Campus Laboratory-Based Research

Students doing research in UT's Department of Nuclear Enginnering

Students doing research in UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering

Research spaces on campus include laboratories, workshops, and studios, which are collectively referred to hereafter as “laboratories” or “labs.” During the pandemic, a number of policies and procedures control and inform the occurrence of lab-based research.

At this time, all labs that are operational must have in place approved Health Safety Plans.

Researchers should familiarize or update their understanding of particular requirements and expectations for on-campus research (click buttons below for more information).

For researchers who are already familiar with appropriate policies and procedures, these links connect directly to important forms, checklists and door signs:


Health Safety Plans

Every lab that is operational must have a Health Safety Plan that describes health safety practices for personnel who work in the lab. Each plan is developed by the faculty member or other researcher who supervises the space. Safe working practices should include use of face masks, social distancing, staggered work schedules, and proper protection and hygienic practices in lab and work environment spaces. Please see additional information and instructions for completing health safety plans.

Plans must be completed and submitted for approval using the Health Safety Plan for Laboratory Research form. Approved plans must be implemented with the opening of the laboratory, including posting the plan in the lab, training all lab personnel about the plan, and ensuring all personnel who will work in the lab sign the posted plan.

Health safety plans must be updated when: a) persons are added to the group of individuals working in a lab; b) changes or additions to experimental work require changes in health safety practices; or c) changes that would lead to a person working alone.

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Requests for Approval of Longer-Term Experiments

Should public health conditions deteriorate, research experiments may be limited to those that can be completed in five or fewer days.

In such circumstances, researchers who wish to conduct longer-term research experiments (both non-animal and animal related) must request authorization via the Request for Longer-term Experiment Approval form.

Once completed and submitted, the request will be reviewed. Plans will be either approved or denied with explanation to enable resubmission if desired.

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Research Programs Involving Animals

Animal welfare continues to be a primary concern, with ethical care delivered without interruption. Please contact the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) (utiacuc@utk.edu) or the Office of Laboratory Animal Care (OLAC) (lcole21@utk.edu) for assistance as lab animal facilities are currently operating with reduced staffing and animal populations and may not have the capacity to support large or rapid increases in animal-based research activities. Studies involving large animals conducted at the UT AgResearch and Education Centers or UT College of Veterinary Medicine Medical Research Center also operate under existing guidelines in place for animal research.

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Core Facilities

Core Facilities managed by the Office of Research and Engagement continue to operate. Users must review and agree to abide by relevant facility health safety plans. Please contact facility staff for information regarding services available and to receive a copy of the facility health safety plan prior to booking instrument time or services. If you have questions regarding core facilities, please contact Jon Phipps at Jphipps@utk.edu.

Core facilities with contact information and current status:

Core Facility Location Contact Email Status
Advanced Microscopy and Imaging Center (AMIC) SERF 101 Andreas Nebenfeuhr nebenfeuhr@utk.edu Standard
Biological and Small Molecule Mass Spectrometry Core (BSMMSC) Buehler 613 Hector Castro hcastrog@utk.edu Standard
CEB Bioimaging Center SERF 732 Steve Ripp saripp@utk.edu Standard
Ion Beam Materials Laboratory Senter 101 Bill Weber wjweber@utk.edu Standard
JIAM Advanced Photoelectronic Spectrometer Lab JIAM G029 Paolo Vilmercati pvilmer1@utk.edu  Standard
JIAM Electromagnetic Properties Lab (JIAM EMP) JIAM G026 Han Zhang hzhang98@utk.edu Standard
JIAM Electron Microscopy JIAM 138 John Dunlap jrdunlap@utk.edu Standard
JIAM Molecular Beam Epitaxy Lab JIAM G029 Paolo Vilmercati pvilmer1@utk.edu  Standard
JIAM Micro-Processing Research Facility (MPRF) JIAM 2nd floor cleanroom Eric Lukosi lukosi@utk.edu Standard
JIAM X-Ray Diffraction JIAM 224/228 Michael Koehler mkoehler@utk.edu Standard
Laboratory for Environmental Archaeology McClung Museum Howard Cyr hcyr@utk.edu Standard
Polymer Characterization Laboratory (PCL) JIAM 104 Katrina Pangilinan kpangili@utk.edu Standard
User eXperience Lab and Messaging Effects Core (UXL) Communications 230 Rachel Volentine rvolenti@utk.edu Standard
CEB Next-Gen Sequencing SERF 722b Veronica Brown vabrown@utk.edu  Standard
UT Genomics Core Mossman 347A Joe May bioseq@utk.edu Standard
UT Water Quality Core Facility Tickle 325 Adrian Gonzalez agonza13@utk.edu Standard
UTIA Genomics Hub 308 Plant Biotech Bldg. Sujata Agarwal sagarwal@utk.edu Standard
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Safe Hibernation of Laboratories

Should public health conditions deteriorate, or if insufficient personnel are available to operate them, labs may need to close or hibernate. Many labs will be required to close should the campus transition to essential-only research activity. Researchers are encouraged to regularly check the Research Operations during COVID-19 webpage for updates.

Should labs need to close or hibernate, research lab leaders should use the Hibernation Safety Checklist to ensure that lab operations are safely and cleanly ramped down. Topics to consider include biological safety, chemical safety, radiation safety, hazardous waste management, controlled substances, and identification of essential maintenance activities that may need to continue. The exact set of topics to apply to a particular laboratory is a function of the research in the space. PIs should also fill out a hibernation sign—including start date and contact information—which should be posted on the lab hallway door.

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Visitors to Laboratories

Laboratory visitors should be limited to only those absolutely necessary for successful laboratory operations (e.g., equipment repair and training). Before having visitors, a research lab leader must modify the health safety plan for the laboratory to add visitors to the plan, submit the plan change and gain approval. If the visit is approved, visitors must read, sign, and comply with the approved lab health safety plan, and the lab must provide visitors with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure its use.

To initiate the visit, the researcher needs to:

  • Complete the self-screening form
  • Log the visit using the Laboratory Visitor Self Screening Documentation form. The form is a simple request for information: name of visitor, location(s) and date(s) of visit, contact information including email of the host, affirmation of approval to visit by host and submission date for the entry. The primary purpose of the form is to enable contact tracing if needed.

Important Note:

Visitors should complete the self-screening form every day of a multi-day visit.

Should a visitor fail the self-screening test during their visit, this event must be reported to the relevant department head/center director and associate dean for research (ADR)/center director, so that it can be reported to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), as the self-isolation form is only for use by UT staff, faculty and students.

Please be aware that this process is only for use with visitors to research labs and not for other types of visitors to campus. Please also note that a different process is used for individuals who come to campus to participate in human subject research; the process is described at irb.utk.edu/covid-19.

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