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COVID 1”

Reducing impact of COVID-19 on UW research activities

Updated as of May 13, 2020

 

Given the global nature of the University of Wyoming’s (UW) research enterprise, the Office of Research & Economic Development (ORED) is monitoring the fluid situation presented by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the associated COVID-19 disease, and its potential to impact university research activities. Please consult the University of Wyoming coronavirus page for important tips on how to stay healthy, view available wellness resources, and find information on national and international protocols undertaken to help minimize the spread of illness.

At this time, all services provided by ORED and the Office of Sponsored Programs are open for business. All staff are working remotely whenever possible and able to assist via phone, email and Zoom. For updates on the status of ORED, communications will be posted on the ORED website, www.uwyo.edu/research.

UW has made the decision to deliver all undergraduate and graduate courses online through the end of the 2020 spring semester. All other aspects of the university remain open, including activities related to the research enterprise. The majority of research activities are conducted on campus; therefore, faculty, staff and students retain access to university research spaces and research support services remain available. UW research stations in other Wyoming locations should continue their operations under the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for minimizing exposure in the workplace and according to the recommendations in this document.

To mitigate the impact of this situation on the research mission, ORED advises principal investigators and research groups to take the following steps:


Graduate Student Research

UW faculty are to continue to advise and work with their graduate students toward advancement of their degrees. For questions about graduate student education, please see the Office of Graduate Education COVID-19 Related Information website.


Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students who remain on campus and are doing research as part of the federal work study program can continue their research and be paid if they so choose. It is recommended that supervisors of part-time hourly undergraduate employees who are assisting with research find alternate duties for them that protect their health and well-being in accordance with CDC guidelines for minimizing exposure in the workplace. Part-time hourly students shall be afforded the option of whether to continue to work based on their level of comfort.


Travel

UW advises checking the CDC COVID-19 Travel webpage for the latest updates on international and domestic travel.

In addition, UW is suspending all institutionally sponsored travel through May 15 2020, unless the travel is deemed mission critical and approved by the division vice president. Exceptions can be made for travel related to field research. Please see the “Field Research” section below for more details.

The university is discouraging booking of travel between May 16 and June 30; if you do have travel planned for this time, you do not have to cancel. The university will reassess in early May whether travel will be allowed or need to be canceled.

In many cases, travel related fees — such as change or cancellation fees and trip cancellation insurance — may be an allowable expense with appropriate justification, unless the specific award or sponsor guidelines prohibits these costs. If the specific award or sponsor guidelines do not cover such fees, work with your department and college to identify local funds to cover these costs.


Designate emergency personnel

Currently, there are no plans to restrict access to university research spaces. However, it is in the best interest of all that research groups prepare for limited access. Designate emergency personnel in advance in case access to research spaces becomes restricted. Emergency personnel may include positions directly responsible for:

  • Building or property safety and security
  • Research animals, specimens or equipment
  • Information security
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Essential business, contractual or legal duties, such as payroll

Plan for reduced staff

In the event personnel cannot come to work, research group leads should discuss how to complete research activities with reduced staff. Each university research laboratory is best positioned to create its own contingency plan, which should include a communication strategy to streamline decision-making and reduce disruption to your research.


Ensure remote access to research materials and meetings

All personnel involved in research projects should make sure they are able to access their work and information remotely. For instance, access to databases, research-related files and literature, as well as meeting software such as Zoom, should be made available to all students, staff, post-doctoral researchers and faculty. Prepare to hold meetings remotely if need be. Contact the IT Help Desk at 766-HELP (4357) for technical assistance.


Adjust research procedures to minimize risk of exposure

Research procedures should be modified if and when necessary to account for recommendations for social distancing. Moreover, many agencies, such as the CDC have provided guidelines and recommendations for ways to minimize exposure in work-spaces, which should be reviewed and implemented as suggested.

To ensure adherence to frequently updated CDC guidelines regarding the number of people in any confined space, please consider limiting the number of personnel in a research space or area. Finally, reviewing cleaning Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to account for additional safeguards and anitation efforts will also help reduce possible exposure and/or transmission of the virus.


Prioritize experiments (considerations)

Prioritize experiments that can only be undertaken in your research spaces or in person and defer work that can be supported remotely.

  • Identify experiments that can be ramped down, curtailed or delayed
  • Identify ways to communicate with your staff and have their contact information
  • Review inventory of supplies
  • Document instructions for key processes
  • Save results and data for analysis

For researchers who use UW fee-for-service Core Research Facilities, please contact the individual Core facility as to whether they are able to provide services in support of ongoing research projects. Core Facility contacts are:

  • Stable Isotope Facility, Berry Biodiversity Center Rm 214, uwyosif@uwyo.edu,
    766-6373
  • Jenkins Microscopy Facility, Biological Sciences Rm 29, zzhang@uwyo.edu,
    766-3038
  • High Precision Isotope Lab, Earth Sciences 3rd Floor, ksims7@uwyo.edu, 766-3386
  • Near Surface Geology Instrument Center, 1220 Bill Nye Ave (facility address) or
    Earth Sciences Rm 1008 (campus contact), bcarr1@uwyo.edu, 761-3884
  • Geochemistry Analytical Lab, Earth Sciences 2019 and 2032, jdewey2@uwyo.edu,
    766-3659

Adjust long-term experiment strategies

If practical, freeze or capture samples at specific stages of long-term experiments in the event you cannot access your samples in-person.


Field Research

FIELD RESEARCH UPDATE (APRIL 16, 2020)

Effective April 13, 2020, University of Wyoming (UW) researchers were asked by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development to pause sponsored field research until July 31, 2020. Sponsored field research consists of research conducted outdoors, where travel away from a UW facility is necessary to access the desired environment. Continuous reassessment of this pause will be made based on the evolution of our understanding of the COVID-19 situation.

Requests for sponsored field research exceptions need to be submitted on an ORED Field Research Exception Request Form.  This form may also require submission of a Medical Screening Checklist.

Exceptions will only be considered for “mission critical field research” and “local” research as defined in the ORED Field Research Exception Request Form. Exception requests will ultimately be considered by the Office of Research and Economic Development; in consultation with leadership of the department and college, and the sponsor supporting the research. UW researchers should expect that many field projects will not meet the requirement for exception and will thus need to be postponed.

Exceptions listed on this form (one form per trip) will be reviewed and considered on a case-by-case basis. Reviews will consider both the mission critical and timely nature of the project as well as the written plan to conduct research in a manner consistent with minimizing risk with respect to current COVID-19 concerns. All exceptions first must consider the best interest of protecting worker health and safety.

Submit completed forms to dhulme@uwyo.edu. ORED will prioritize evaluation of these requests with a goal of providing a response in one business day.

 

FIELD RESEARCH UPDATE FROM VP SYNAKOWSKI (APRIL 9, 2020)

This notice is to convey a change of posture regarding field research conducted by University of Wyoming faculty, staff, and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. UW researchers shall pause field research starting now and extending at least until July 31, 2020. Approaching that time, a reassessment will be made based on the evolution of our understanding of the COVID-19 situation. While consistent with the recently announced extension by UW of a travel restrictions being extended, this change of posture reflects a tightened set of considerations against which exception requests will be evaluated. This change is informed by consultation with leaders of field research enterprises regarding their concerns and observations made over the last few weeks. The default assumption by researchers should be that exceptions will be rare.

Exceptions will only be considered for mission critical research and research that is local as judged by considerations such as distance traveled by the researchers and accessibility in case problems emerge requiring field intervention. Exception requests will be considered by the Office of Research and Economic Development; in consultation with leadership of the department and college, and the sponsor supporting the research; on a case-by-case basis and will require evaluation of a detailed plan that addresses how the CDC guidelines on social distancing and disinfection will be applied to ensure the safety of students and faculty. The exception request should also include a plan for providing aid to anyone in the field who becomes ill and subsequent steps that will be taken to reduce exposure to others in the group.

Considerations leading to this decision include:

  • There is risk to investments with present activities being performed and planned under the assumption that field research won’t be interrupted later at an unpredictable time. Certainty in the near-term will help researchers in their planning of the division between field work and work that can be carried out in controlled circumstances at home

  • Travel across Wyoming to conduct research provides a means of connecting regions that to date have had the benefit of isolation

  • Travel by car to field sites often requires breaking of safe social distancing practices between researchers

  • There are often unpredictable circumstances that put a researcher in situations where health and safety cannot be assured, such as lodging or dining conditions that have been compromised due to reductions in services

  • Researchers falling ill in the field with COVID-19 or other illness or unrelated injury will have unintended impact on emergency medical personnel regarding social distancing when called upon to extract researchers from the field. They will also burden local medical providers when resources need to be reserved for local needs

  • There is concern that some may feel compelled to comply with UW’s or their supervisor’s wish to participate in field research, despite their own judgment or leadership reassurance that declining to do the work is acceptable

  • Social distancing practices are difficult to carry out or enforce in research requiring group participation in the field

 


Research with Animals

Please refer to the IACUC Guidelines

Contact Nichole Person at IACUC@uwyo.edu with any questions.


Research with Human Subjects

Please refer to the IRB Guidelines

Contact Nichole Person at IRB@uwyo.edu with any questions.


Biosafety and IBC Questions

Contact Madeline Darlymple at dalrympl@uwyo.edu


Radiation Safety Questions

Contact Jim Herrold at herrold@uwyo.edu


Respect the concerns of the researcher

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19 require that deference be given to researchers if they have concerns about performing research in the lab or field even after the supervisor feels reasonable adjustments in procedures have been made. If a researcher is uncomfortable performing a scope of work, the researcher’s work scope must be respectfully adjusted. The supervisor will work with the research team to find other ways to get the required work done.


Keep your communication plan up to date

If you do not have a communications plan for your research group, designate points of contact to efficiently disseminate information that impacts your work and group.


Plan to submit research proposals remotely

Even in the event that personnel are working remotely, the ORED Research Services Team will be able to continue to submit research proposals. Be prepared to work with department administrators and your Research Services point of contact remotely to meet deadlines.


Electronic submission of Greensheets

Greensheets can be submitted electronically as email attachments to research@uwyo.edu and can be signed electronically


Sponsor Guidance

Grant sponsors, especially federal sponsors, are starting to reach out to our office to let us know they are willing to accept certain delays in research.  With the need to reduce human contact, it is likely research projects will experience some delays.  As this situation evolves, please contact our office if you feel you need to ask your sponsor for a no-cost extension.  We will keep you posted as we hear from sponsors regarding their guidance during this time.

COGR: Agency Responses to COVID-19 and Additional Resources


Chemical Stockroom

Starting Thursday April 2, 2020, the Chemical Stockroom will operate with limited access and reduced hours. The new hours will be Mon-Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

To place an order or arrange to pick up items, call the office at (307) 766-4348. If there is no answer text to (307) 272-8309 or email Jack Leonhardt, Chemical Stockroom Manager, at jleonhar@uwyo.edu and he will make arrangements to meet you.


Advanced Research Computing Center (ARCC)

ARCC will remain open and available to assist campus. ARCC staff can be reached at arcc-info@uwyo.edu.


Shipping and Receiving – Animals, Research Supplies

UW Shipping and Receiving will still be fully staffed for the foreseeable future, but recommends coordinating with their group (307-766-2304, ext. 4) prior to ordering to minimize the risk of lost materials.  Researchers expecting deliveries of perishable samples/supplies should still receive them in a timely manner.  If you have concerns about an incoming perishable item, please call UW Shipping and Receiving.


Redirect media inquires

News media may contact you or a member of your research group for comment on the coronavirus. Unless authorized, do not give statements on behalf of UW. Instead, all inquiries should be directed to UW’s Institutional Communications staff. Media relations representatives are trained to respond to media inquiries in a timely manner.

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