College of Arts & Sciences
Research Update: COVID-19

As was communicated by President Capilouto and Vice President for Research Cassis regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), the health, safety, and well-being of our campus and community is a priority, and this includes faculty, staff, and trainees engaged in research, as well as research subjects. The College of Arts & Sciences is modifying previous communications about research activities to be more specific about conditions that would permit in-person activities in labs while keeping health and safety a top priority. It is important to recognize that research cannot operate as “business as usual” at present, so we need the conscientious cooperation of all faculty, graduate students, and research staff in making important modifications.

As communicated previously, we need to modify our research activities to be remote as much as possible. When not possible, we need to follow processes to increase social distance and protect the health of our research personnel, campus, and community. In-person meetings should be avoided, and supervisors should not require their research staff to do in-person work, especially around others.

Given that some research employees may have job duties that normally cannot be done remotely, faculty supervisors need to think creatively regarding other types of work that can be done at home. This might include trainings or certifications, development of protocols, documentation, work on data sets, writing, etc. Some additional suggestions are at the end of this document.

It is necessary to ramp down some research activity during this period. Based on the advice of health experts, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and directives from Governor Andy Beshear, researchers should follow the procedures outlined below during this period, which is likely to extend to the end of the semester or beyond as necessary:

  • Identify non-critical activities to be ramped down, suspended, or delayed. The attached “Laboratory Checklist” from the VPR office will provide you with some actions to consider in that scale-down. I have attached that checklist.
  • Identify essential research personnel and operations. Essential operations may include activities such as necessary care for animals, cell culture maintenance, equipment requiring continuous operation or maintenance, on-going experiments that cannot be stopped, and clinical trials which benefit patients or participants in significant ways and do not increase risk of COVID-19 exposure in vulnerable populations. Identify who will be responsible for performing those essential activities, including backup for primary individuals. This is especially important for ongoing animal experiments to assure investigators are responsible for animal care that is outside of DLAR personnel responsibilities.
  • If you have such necessary on-site research activity, You need to fill out the form at
  • We need explicit details as to who will be on campus, when and for how. If you have previously submitted the form with minimal information, please submit a second time. These are time stamped so we will look at the later submission. Please be specific about what facilities (buildings and rooms and time periods (such as 9 a.m.-noon) will need to be accessed research personnel. The plan is for buildings to be locked. Please obtain keys or badge access for any essential personnel who do not currently have such access.
  • Identify graduate students and postdocs who will need access to campus facilities for their research and cannot work remotely. New experiments should not be started, but it is recognized that graduate students may need to finish experiments that are part of completing work for graduate degrees, and that postdocs may need to complete experiments that are part of time-limited appointments. Even for graduate students and postdocs, remote work time can be used to draft manuscripts and grant proposals, perform literature reviews, draft dissertation chapters, etc. Graduate committees also are encouraged to allow modifications to proposed thesis or dissertation work to enable degree completion.
  • Develop a communication plan to assure that you and your laboratory staff are in communication over research operations. Suggestions include creation of an emergency call sheet that has contact information for all laboratory members, designating a point of contact for various research-related activities, delineating modes of interactions for research purposes (e.g. procedures and scheduling of remote meetings).
  • Delineate research activities for members of your research team that can be performed remotely, and what resources are needed to do so (e.g., online research platforms, statistical software, zoom
  • Identify additional activities that can be performed by research staff remotely. These may not be central to your specific project(s), but include ways to stay current on training and compliance and ways to expand capabilities.
    Some suggestions are:

For the most up-to-date information from the University, please visit For all information relevant to research activities at the University, please visit:

Funding agencies are releasing information relevant to effects on grants. Currently we have the page for NIH-funded projects:

We know this is a stressful and unprecedented time with many changes occurring rapidly. We will continue to communicate any additional changes via future updates. We will do everything possible to support your research activities while guarding the health and safety of our college community.