Announcing the Phased Resumption of On-Campus Research

On June 17, 2020, Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti announced to the faculty the phased resumption of on-campus research.

View the memo as a PDF.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY Office of the Dean for Research

To: PIs who oversee research laboratories on campus

From: Pablo G. Debenedetti, Dean for Research

Subject: Announcing the Phased Resumption of On-Campus Research

Date: June 17, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the phased resumption of on-campus research. The transition from Level 3 (Essential Research) to Level 2 (Phased Resumption) is now officially on.

All work that can be done remotely must continue to be done remotely. The phased resumption pertains to experimental, laboratory work in science and engineering.

In order to return to the lab, your Research Lab Operations Plan (RLOP) must be approved. In addition, as the head of your laboratory or core facility, you have the following important responsibilities:

  • Ensure that each member of your lab (faculty, graduate student, post-doctoral researcher, staff) completes Safe Practices for Resumption of Research training available in the Employee Learning Center. You will be able to review training records for all members in SHIELD.
  • Ensure that every member of your group (faculty, graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, staff) performs the self-evaluation and reports symptoms every day prior to coming to campus using the COVID-19 medical self-assessment tool in TigerSafe. See TigerSafe for information on how to download and use the app. Discuss with your team the feature that notifies you or a lab manager the individual’s status for coming to campus. 
  • Ensure that every member of your group completes a risk assessment to determine how soon they are permitted to resume on-campus, in-person activities. Complete the Risk Assessment Questionnaire, which will be reviewed by University Health Services, and await further instructions. 
  • Enforce the requirement for people to work remotely for non-laboratory activities. 
  • Ensure laboratory information in SHIELD is up to date with all personnel, and add incoming personnel in a timely manner. 
  • Seek guidance and approval from EHS in advance for activities that cannot be accomplished within the EHS-prescribed campus hygiene and safety practices. For consultation, contact [email protected]
  • Communicate proactively with lab members about the requirements for social distancing, hygiene, health and safety. 
  • Maintain up-to-date plans for research operations and communicate the details to all members of your group.

Please note that returning to the lab is not the same as returning to your office. Anything other than occasional use of your office is not allowed at this time.

The following resources should be helpful in planning your return to the lab:

  • Up-to-date guidance on conducting safe research during the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • COVID 19-related research FAQs .

Best practices noted in several RLOPs are provided below:

  • Instruct lab members to sanitize/disinfect lab, break and desk spaces at the beginning and end of each shift.
  • Create a buffer of time between shifts to avoid overlap of personnel.
  • Designate appropriate spaces for breaks and meals.
  • Assign a lab member to review and update contact information on a regular schedule.
  • Post maximum occupancy signage at the entrances to the lab and any associated, common use rooms.

I am very grateful to you and your lab members for your patience during the three long months since we halted on-campus research. I am keenly aware of the sacrifice you made.

The phased resumption of on-campus research is an experiment. Only your proactive and continuing attention and commitment to health, safety and hygiene in your lab will help ensure this experiment’s success.

With all good wishes,


Pablo G. Debenedetti, Dean for Research
Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science