COVID-19 Modified Research Operations

It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to cause many disruptions to our lives, both personal and professional. As part of our local community, we must do our part to help respond to this public health emergency. PSU has recently moved to limit on-campus operations by asking those who can to work remotely. While RGS services continue with staff working remotely, services are limited on-campus and staffing will be reduced in many areas that are of key importance to research operations and safety. As such, we cannot continue with normal research operations. The University has decided to reduce research activities to a level that will ensure the safety and health of our faculty, students, staff, and the greater community. This decision was made after many discussions with PSU leadership and in consultation with leadership from other Oregon university research offices. Modified research operations will go into effect as of Monday, March 23. They will remain in effect until April 17th and potentially longer. Information about this and other changes related to the COVID-19 outbreak can be found on PSU's Coronavirus Response website. Information on how funding agencies are responding to the outbreak can be found on the Research Administration webpage.

We are asking all researchers to develop a plan for operations that minimizes the need for people to be on campus and maximizes the ability for people to work remotely. Please develop this plan and share it with your department chair or center director. It is important that faculty within and between departments work together to ensure safety in our research laboratories under conditions of significantly reduced staff. Below are some guidelines to follow as you develop your plan for working remotely and supporting minimal on-campus activities.

For those who are unable to divert their research efforts to alternative activities and have research activities that can only be carried out on campus, these activities will have to be placed on hold. In those rare instances where putting these research activities on hold is not possible (as opposed to not desirable) due to compliance or safety issues, PIs, with the support of their chair, and the dean of their college or institute director, may make requests for a variance. In this request, the dean or director must make the case for why this research is an essential activity and must continue, identify the personnel who will be on campus for these activities, present a plan for operations and minimizing impacts on limited personnel on campus, and a timeline. RGS will work directly with deans, directors, and department chairs to evaluate these requests.

Laboratory-based research

  • Do not start any new experiments.
  • Complete all ongoing experiments and put all equipment and instrumentation into a safe condition.
  • If you have an ongoing experiment that is of key importance to continue, you may complete that experiment as long as it can be completed safely and while practicing social distancing recommendations.
  • All BSL2 work should be postponed until campus returns to normal operations.
  • If possible, freeze or store cell lines or microbial cultures for long-term storage
  • If you have laboratory animals or plants to care for, please reduce your operations to the minimum size and effort needed. Please minimize the number of people and on-site work hours needed to maintain compliance with federal regulations.
  • If you have laboratory animals, please report your plan for maintaining compliance to iacuc@pdx.edu.
  • New animal care protocols will be accepted for review, but protocol approval will not be issued until campus returns to normal operations.
  • Take appropriate action to ensure data security if working remotely.
  • Only order supplies that are absolutely necessary - it is highly likely that the delivery of supplies will be delayed.

Field-based research

  • Fieldwork in natural areas outside of urban centers is acceptable if practicing recommendations for social distancing.
  • Animal field study activities may continue, but investigators must develop and submit a plan for continuing this work safely, adhering to animal welfare requirements, and following recommendations for social distancing.
  • Community-based work that requires in-person interactions must cease immediately.

Human subjects research

  • All in-person human subjects research must be suspended immediately.
  • Research that uses remote technology may continue.
  • If you would like to amend an existing IRB protocol to utilize remote technology for interactions, you will need to complete and submit a protocol amendment request form. Approval must be secured before implementation.
  • The Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) will continue to accept and review new protocol submissions; however, approvals will only be issued if they utilize methodologies that do not require in-person interaction, e.g. remote/virtual data collection methods.
  • HRPP staff working remotely are available to answer questions and support investigators who have questions about existing or planned human subjects research. For answers to your questions, contact psuirb@pdx.edu.

Sponsored Projects Administration

  • SPA staff continue to work and support proposal submissions and awards management but will be doing so remotely
  • If sponsored project work requires on-campus activities that cannot be conducted during the period of time that PSU is limiting on-campus activities, send an email to spa@pdx.edu and a member of the SPA leadership team will connect with you regarding how to address the situation given the specific terms of your award(s) and communicate with the sponsor as necessary.
  • We continue to monitor updates from funding agencies on how to manage unavoidable issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These updates are listed on PSU's Research Administration website, along with guidance regarding allowable charges to sponsored projects during this time.

Suggestions for alternative work options for research staff

  • Focus on writing papers, reviews, and funding proposals.
  • Analyze data from your home office/workspace
  • Assign your research staff to assist with writing papers or document protocols
  • Participate in webinars or other online professional development activities
  • Assign GRAs grant-related work that can be accomplished remotely
  • Hone your teleconferencing skills

We understand that these changes will be more than mere inconveniences for many of our faculty, students, staff, and partners in the research enterprise. We have not made these decisions lightly. During this time of uncertainty, our focus is on maintaining the health and wellbeing of everyone within the PSU community. We look forward to resuming normal activities as soon as possible. In the meantime, please do your best to keep yourselves, families, and the greater PSU and Portland communities safe and healthy.

Jason Podrabsky,

Interim Vice President, Research & Graduate Studies