Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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Guidance for Research Conducted at ORNL Facilities during COVID-19

Many University of Tennessee researchers, including faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students, enjoy productive collaborative relationships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and ORNL researchers. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has had a disruptive impact on collaborative activities that require the presence of UT researchers in ORNL facilities.

While research continues to be conducted in ORNL facilities, the number of individuals permitted to be on-site, whether ORNL employees or not, has been reduced significantly to ensure the lab is able to continue to perform critical operations for the nation. Consistent with Department of Energy guidelines, ORNL is implementing strategies to protect the health and wellbeing of all researchers and staff in their facilities, including staggered work schedules, physical distancing protocols, and a robust COVID-19 testing regimen. At this time, approximately 50 percent of ORNL scientists have permission to work in ORNL facilities and the majority of administrative staff are working remotely.

Regrettably, these restrictions have had a significant impact on the number of UT researchers permitted to resume research activities on-site at ORNL facilities (including at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility). Access to ORNL facilities for UT faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students is likely to remain limited until public health conditions improve significantly.

To be considered for access to ORNL this semester, UT faculty members must work directly with their relevant ORNL division directors to develop access plan requests for key individuals, such as the faculty member and relevant graduate student(s) and/or postdoctoral fellow(s).

  • Individuals who are granted access will be required to take ORNL training and may have to submit to routine COVID-19 testing.
  • Faculty with postdoctoral fellows and graduate students whose access to ORNL facilities is not granted should reach out to one of the following for assistance finding solutions to enable these early career researchers to pursue their research on the UT campus.
    • Bill Dunne, associate dean for research and technology in the Tickle College of Engineering, for all engineering faculty
    • Larry McKay, associate dean of research in the College of Arts and Sciences faculty, for all arts and sciences faculty
    • Deb Crawford, vice chancellor for research, for all other faculty
    • Suresh Babu, director of the Bredesen Center and Governor’s Chair in Advanced Manufacturing, for faculty with Bredesen Center students.

UT and ORNL remain committed to ensuring that all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are able to continue making progress on their research studies during this time.

Please note that requests for ORNL access for undergraduate students or UT visitors will not be entertained until further notice.