COVID-19 Information for Researchers

(updated March 28, 4:00 p.m.)

The Office of the Dean for Research is committed to supporting Princeton's research community and essential research functions with the goal of protecting the health and safety of our researchers and of the broader community. This page contains information and resources for Princeton faculty, students and staff engaged in research.

Call for COVID-19 Research Proposals

Faculty members are invited to apply for Princeton University funding to support research projects that consider biomedical, health-related and fundamental science related to the COVID pandemic, as well as those that impact corresponding policy, social, and economic topics. 

Funding of up to $100,000 is available for projects lasting up to one year. Proposals will be anonymously peer-reviewed by a committee that will make funding recommendations. 

Send questions to researchplan@princeton.edu 
Proposals are due by 11 p.m. on Sunday, April 5th.


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    Halting on-campus research activities

    Effective March 21 at 9 p.m., New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy enacted a statewide stay-at-home order. Though the guidelines allow us to continue to provide on campus services and continue our teaching through remote instruction, they do present challenges when it comes to aspects of our research enterprise.

    In light of this, and the need to ensure the health and safety of our community, the time has come to halt all non-essential on-campus research activities. Faculty members and facility directors who are responsible for on-campus research activities are asked to proceed with shut-down procedures for all “non-essential” on-campus research activities.

    Read Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti's memo on the halting of on-campus research activities

    Most researchers have already planned for the orderly shut-down by submitting a Research Essential Operations Plan. Here are the key points:

    • Essential Research: Some researchers have requested continuity of on-campus research whose interruption would have unacceptably negative consequences. The Office of the Dean for Research will inform researchers whether their application for continuity of essential on-campus research has been approved or not.
    • Critical Maintenance and Monitoring: Several have submitted critical maintenance or monitoring procedures that require regular attention from a person to maintain laboratory viability. These activities may include, for example, providing animal support, maintaining shared computational equipment, and maintaining equipment that requires gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as deep-storage freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators. The Office of the Dean for Research will either confirm approval or request further clarifications, as needed.
    • Completion of shutdown procedures: Researchers were asked to complete shutdown procedures by the close of business on Monday, March 23. Researchers may find this checklist for shutting down your laboratory and the checklist for shutting down your Biosafety cabinet useful.
    • Please note that the Governor’s Executive Order allows laboratory researchers to perform essential operations on-site, however these operations must have DFR approval. 

    It is important to remember that graduate students and postdoctoral researchers should only participate in on-campus essential activities (including critical maintenance or research that is allowed to continue because it is deemed essential) if they choose to do so. Under no circumstances should a graduate student or a post-doctoral researcher be compelled to perform on-campus activities against their will. The academic deans in the Office of the Graduate School, Dean Christine Murphy (Natural Sciences and Engineering) and Dean Geoffrey Hill (Humanities and Social Sciences), are available to discuss these issues with students.

    Where possible, continue to interact virtually and hold meetings online — both to carry out scholarly activity and to promote the academic and emotional well-being of your lab members. We hope that your remote research activities flourish during this challenging time.

    The health and safety of our Princeton community are at the forefront of our thoughts and planning efforts. The University will continue to support our research community and to maintain essential on-campus research functions during this uncertain time. Our veterinary care staff will continue to maintain the health and welfare of our research animals, and the offices that support research and environmental health and safety will continue to function. We appreciate your commitment to the shift to virtual scholarship and your dedication to the well-being of our Princeton research community.

      For questions about research continuity or operations, email: researchplan@princeton.edu.

       


       

      Research Essential Operations Plan

      The Research Essential Operations Plan documents how each lab will perform essential operations during an emergency situation or long-term disruption – in particular planning for the current COVID-19 situation, which might last for several weeks or more. The plan identifies mission-critical functions, communication methods, and alternate personnel. It should be shared with members of the laboratory, and a copy of the plan accessible remotely as a reference. All Principal Investigators (PIs) and facility managers must submit a Research Essential Operations Plan no later than Wednesday, March 18.

      For questions about research continuity or operations, email: researchplan@princeton.edu

       


       

      FAQs

      General Guidelines

      What general guidelines should we follow?

      Due to New Jersey's stay-at-home order, research should be conducted remotely. On-campus research is suspended with the exception of a small number of approved activities, effective the close of business on Monday, March 23.

      May I take my research materials and equipment home, to continue my work? 

      No. Homes are not research laboratories. Remote work is virtual work, not remote laboratory work in your home.

      May I have research materials and supplies shipped to me at home, for example if deliveries to my building on campus are interrupted?

      No. Research materials and supplies may not be shipped to home addresses.

      COVID-19-related Activities and Production of Materials

      How can I get approval to produce PPE materials or provide other technical support to the community?

      Many members of the Princeton community have expressed a desire to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic through the production of PPE materials, the use of 3D printing, medical testing, or otherwise providing technical support. To ensure the efficacy and safety of these efforts, the University requires that approval be obtained from the Office of the Provost for activities that involve University resources in non-research-related COVID-19 responses.

      • Contact Paul LaMarche, vice provost for space programming and planning, for approvals related to University resources for COVID-19 responses.
      • For information on 3D printing of PPE and medical devices, see the guidance provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).   

        Research Management

        Can we continue with ongoing research? Should we start new research projects?

        On March 21, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy enacted a statewide stay-at-home order

        Only laboratory research that has been approved through the Research Essential Operations Plans should continue. Ongoing research that does not involve on-campus work should be conducted via remote or virtual communications. 

        Animal Research

        What is the continuity plan for research animal care?

        Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) has a pandemic response as part of our overall disaster plan and continuity effort. The LAR team is considered essential staff and we will continue to provide husbandry and veterinary care to Princeton’s research animal population. We have worked with our vendors to ensure sufficient inventory of supplies during this period and are actively working with the animal research labs on their own individual continuity plans.  

        Should researchers maintain social distancing with non-human primates?

        Based on evidence in the scientific literature and benchmarking with our colleagues at other universities, LAR Veterinarians are considering our macaque population to be susceptible to the potential transmission of Coronavirus from humans. Should our nonhuman primate population come under direct threat, LAR is prepared to transition to new requirements for additional protective equipment to protect the macaques.

        Research with Human Subjects

        Is the IRB still operating?

        Yes. The IRB office is open. The IRB website contains FAQs and contact information for IRB staff.

        Should we implement social distancing for human subject research that involves in-person interactions?

        "Non-essential" studies that involve in-person interaction must be postponed. Most human-subjects research at Princeton University falls in the "non-essential" category. Acknowledging this impact on research, the IRB Chair is allowing investigators to make immediate changes to their studies that relate to this emergency without prior IRB approval. However, notification and approval by the IRB must be obtained after the fact via submission of a Reportable New Information form (see the Quick Reference Guide on this page). The IRB Office is open and is reviewing modification requests and other submissions. For more details, including the parameters regarding making changes to studies without IRB approval, please see the Guidance for Conducting Human Subjects Research in the Context of the COVID-19 Emergency.

        Undergraduate Senior Thesis

        Will seniors be allowed to stay on campus to complete their senior thesis research?

        No. Non-essential on-campus research has been halted, and all non-essential university researchers are asked to comply with stay-at-home orders.

        Will undergraduates be allowed to return to the lab after spring break?

        No, once students leave campus they will not be eligible to return for the remainder of the semester.

        Core Facilities

        Will the core facilities continue to be available for use as usual?

        Limited campus facilities will be operating during the stay-at-home order announced by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on March 21.

        Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

        Where can I learn more about Princeton Plasma Physics Lab operations?

        Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is curtailing operations and sending employees home to work effective 5 p.m. Friday, March 13. Information about the laboratory operations is available on their website: https://www.pppl.gov/. Specific questions can be emailed to pppl_communications@pppl.gov

        Health and Safety

        What guidelines should we follow to address personal health and safety questions and possible exposure to the virus?

        Any health-related information, including definitions of terms such as "quarantine" and "isolation," is posted on the University’s coronavirus webpage: coronavirus.princeton.edu. The website is updated regularly and lab members should consult it for current information.

        Building Access

        Will University buildings be open to researchers, students, faculty and staff?

        Starting March 14 at 7 a.m., campus academic and administrative buildings will be following an extended-hour weekend building schedule until further notice. This means exterior doors will be locked and will not be open to the general public. 

        Researchers, students, faculty and staff will have access to buildings with card access systems using their cards from 7 a.m. to Midnight. If an individual has 24/7 access to a specific building already (typically where their lab is located), that access will stay the same. 

        Department have compiled lists of research personnel that will need to retain building access if it is further restricted from the current schedule. Department managers or building access coordinators may use this form to submit names of research personnel to be added or deleted from the building access list. Update to research personnel form

        How will the impact of construction be communicated to researchers?

        Any changes in construction schedules or work plans would not result in more prolonged utility/water outages than originally planned.  To the extent the timing of such outages shifts, Facilities will communicate to the impacted buildings.

        Shipping and Supplies

        What is the continuity plan for procurement?

        The Procurement office will continue to operate as normal whether from campus or from remote locations.  

        How should we ensure we receive needed supplies?

        The University procurement office is taking steps to obtain items for departments that are in short supply such as masks and hand sanitizer. They are working with suppliers to maintain deliveries of regularly needed material such as gases. If there are materials that you need, contact the procurement office at purchase@princeton.edu and let us know the details about the product or service, the supplier, and what the issue might be.  One of our staff will respond and may ask a few questions to clarify.

        Will gas supplies, such as liquid nitrogen, continue?

        The University continues to be in contact with vendors. At this point, no disruptions are expected. Airgas has instructed drivers to practice social distancing and to use hand sanitizer/hand washing practices.  For some health facilities, which are known to have infected patients, drivers have been instructed to not pickup empty containers unless they have been disinfected. This does not affect Princeton. Bulk deliveries are not affected. Any updates will be communicated as they are learned by Procurement.

        Are there precautions (e.g., personal protective equipment) for incoming shipments?

        The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance indicates that incoming shipments pose minimal risks and thus no special equipment or procedures are needed. People working in shipping and receiving should take utmost care to follow the general CDC-recommended hygiene practices as they handle materials.

        Will shipping materials to and from campus be affected? 

        Shipping will continue. There are no constraints on domestic shipments. American River, one of our customs brokers, has advised us that there are no constraints on imported products.  FedEx has advised that there are restrictions in Wuhan China and to expect delays for other areas in China. They’ve also advised that shipments to and from Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy are temporarily postponed.  For the most up to date information, please refer to the latest FedEx news.

        Research Expenditures

        What guidance is available from agencies and sponsors regarding the impact of COVID-19 on research?

        Please consult the Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) website for the FAQ on updates and guidance released by research sponsors. 

        Are travel cancellation costs due to COVID-19 allowable as direct charges to sponsored projects? 

        The Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) continues to monitor guidance from sponsoring agencies related to charges to awards for cancellation of travel, conferences, and related expenses due to COVID-19. Please consult ORPA's website for the FAQ on updates and guidance released by research sponsors

        Research or Conference Travel

        For the most updated information on travel, see the University's Coronavirus information page.

        Should researchers postpone travel?

        On Saturday, March 28, the CDC issued a Domestic Travel Advisory for New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. This advisory aligns with earlier New Jersey ‘stay at home’ orders and University policies regarding travel. Members of our community should continue to refrain from all non-essential travel, and to comply with New Jersey and surrounding states’ ‘stay at home’ provisions, which allow for staff to travel to and from the University for work as needed. 

        Library

        What support is available to researchers through the library?  

        Princeton University Library will continue to provide Princeton faculty and students support with virtual teaching and learning, and remote access options for using library resources. Get the latest information on the Library’s COVID-19: PUL updates webpage.

        Computing and OIT Support

        Will research computing continue as normal?

        Both the Office of Information Technology and the research computing center have been planning to avoid disruptions. OIT is supporting several remote learning and conferencing applications that researchers can use. For more specific information or for assistance contact OIT through the help desk at 609-258-4357 (8-HELP) or helpdesk@princeton.edu. More information on remote instructions and meetings can be found at workcontinuity.princeton.edu

        Research computing is expected to continue as normal because most operations are handled remotely. The office is working with vendors to ensure spare parts are on hand. High-Performance Computing and storage systems are up. All training sessions have been canceled and will be rescheduled. Plans are being developed to replace walk-in hours with remote help sessions. Staff at Research Computing urge researchers to make contingency plans to ensure they have access to their own data in the event of a building closure. 

        What tools are available to support remote work? Will there be a bandwidth issue?

        Zoom is fully supported. If you wish to use an alternate communication system, contact OIT with questions but many other applications are supported as well. The University has sufficient network capacity to support conferencing. Vendors, including Zoom, have said they can expand to meet demand. OIT will assist with problems or questions and can be reached through the help desk at 609-258-4357 (8-HELP) or helpdesk@princeton.edu

        Where to find information: