Office of Research

COVID-19: Research Operations at University of Georgia

Updated on May 16, 2021 at 11:10 a.m.

The University of Georgia Office of Research has coordinated with other campus units to develop guidance for faculty, staff and students to manage their ongoing research and scholarship activities. Please refer back to this webpage frequently for evolving guidance on your research operations.

Per the return-to-campus guidance issued on May 14, 2021UGA research programs may return to pre-COVID normal operations effective Monday, June 14, with no further requirement for Research Resumption Plans (RRPs). Through June 30, faculty are encouraged to be flexible with regard to specific scheduling needs of individual research personnel as they adjust to pre-COVID normal operations.

  • Faculty may continue to encourage mask wearing in circumstances where social distancing is difficult.
  • Faculty should continue the practice of submitting an amended RRP to their supervisor (department head or director) if they need to increase occupancy prior to June 14.
  • Current UGA and USG policy is that only essential travel is allowed. Unit leaders (department heads/directors) have full discretion to authorize travel as essential based on its importance for UGA’s mission and priorities.
  • For more information, please refer to the ArchNews message from Friday, May 14, 2021.
Additional COVID-19 resources:

Resumption of Onsite Research Activity

Per the return-to-campus guidance issued on May 14, 2021UGA research programs are now in pre-COVID normal operations, with no further requirement for Research Resumption Plans (RRPs). Through June 30, faculty are encouraged to be flexible with regard to specific scheduling needs of individual research personnel as they adjust to pre-COVID normal operations.

  • Faculty may continue to encourage mask wearing in circumstances where social distancing is difficult.
  • For more information, please refer to the ArchNews message from Friday, May 14, 2021.

Research Operations, Safety & Facilities

All Office of Research offices and core facilities are functioning at normal capacity.

Research Involving Animals

University Research Animal Resources has continued daily care to all animals housed on campus. This includes veterinary medical care; assessment of animal health and wellbeing; provision of food, water and clean cages; and maintenance of appropriate environmental conditions.

If you have an animal in need of immediate attention, the quickest means to get in touch with on-call veterinary faculty and staff is to locate a URAR staff member in your facility.

If you are unable to locate someone in your facility:

  • During business hours (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.), call the URAR front office at 706-542-4173.
  • Outside of business hours, contact the URAR veterinarian on call at 706-542-7204.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): “There is little to no evidence that domestic animals are easily infected with SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions and no evidence to date that they transmit the virus to people.” In the research environment, URAR protects cats, ferrets, and hamsters from droplet transmission through the use of face masks and 10-12 air changes per hour in animal housing rooms.

URAR veterinary personnel will continue to monitor reports on risks related to research animals and communicate those with the research community.

Research Involving Human Subjects

The Human Subjects Office (HSO) and IRB Committees are operating in accordance with USG and university guidance. HSO has set up its own FAQ to help answer specific questions regarding continuity of human subjects research.

Sponsored Projects Proposal & Award Management

Awarding agencies may provide flexibility with regard to the submission of competing applications in response to specific announcements, as well as unsolicited applications. Look for specific guidance on agency websites and/or provide a point of contact for an agency program official and SPA will contact this individual.

Please see Question 1 above. Agencies have extended some submission deadlines, however faculty should anticipate submitting proposals by the sponsor’s stated deadline.

It is important to note that most sponsors do not accept late proposals, though some may consider extensions on a case-by-case basis.

Below are links to pages created by some of UGA’s major funding agencies and other organizations about COVID-19 impacts:

The Sponsored Projects Administration team is here to assist you.  If you have any questions, please contact Jill Tincher, SPA Executive Director at jill.tincher@uga.edu or your SPA representative.

In general, your grant will likely be required to cover costs incurred during a reduction in operations — provided UGA would cover those costs on both sponsored and non-sponsored projects. This practice adheres to the federal government’s Uniform Guidance (2 CFR §200.403) requirement that costs be incurred “consistent with policies and procedures that apply uniformly to both federally-financed and other activities of the non-federal entity.”

No. These types of expenses are considered administrative costs (indirect costs), and generally are not appropriate as a direct cost unless specifically approved by the sponsor. A reduction in operations at UGA does not change this fact. If you need to work remotely, please consult with your department or school to identify whether computing resources are available.

Federal sponsors are encouraging PIs to follow institutional guidance and policy with respect to continuing projects. Once onsite operations resume, each project should be assessed to determine if additional time may be needed to complete the scope of work. If an extension is needed, we can exercise or request extensions approximately 120 days prior to the existing end date.

Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their grants within sponsor-required progress reports. This will substantiate the need for any extensions exercised or requested. Additionally, this information can serve as the basis for any supplemental funding requests needed as a result of COVID-19. No-cost time extensions covered under expanded authorities will still be available for federal awards.

Some awarding agencies may allow grantees to delay submission of financial, performance and other reports up to three (3) months beyond the normal due date. In those cases, grantees will continue to draw down federal funds without the timely submission of these reports. However, these reports must be submitted at the end of the postponed period.

Please see Question 7 above. We expect federal agencies will recognize the difficulties inherent in this situation and work with institutions to facilitate the conduct of projects. As a reminder, recipients are required to (1) inform their program officer and grants officer that prior approval is required if the need arises for additional federal funds to complete the project (200.308.(c)(1)(viii)); and (2) notify the federal agency as soon as “problems, delays, or adverse conditions which will materially

impact the ability to meet the objective of the federal award” (200.328.(d)(1)) are known. In the latter case, the notification must include a statement of the action taken or contemplated and any assistance needed to resolve the situation.

It is possible that there will not be an immediate answer on what is needed to resolve the situation; in that case, recipients should simply indicate that they will report back when more is known. These requests/communications should be submitted by Sponsored Projects Administration, so please contact your SPA Representative for assistance.

Research Commercialization / Technology Transfer

The Innovation Gateway contracts team works to expeditiously handle agreement requests. MTA and CDA requests are accepted through Innovation Gateway’s MTA/CDA online portal. In addition, communication concerning material transfer requests and confidential disclosure requests should be directed to igcontracts@uga.edu.

Yes. However, to ensure good communication, requests for rush patent filing should be sent to both your Innovation Gateway licensing manager and to gateway@uga.edu. It is important to provide as much lead time as possible prior to public disclosures.

Please forward these questions to your Innovation Gateway Licensing Manager and to gateway@uga.edu. We will do our best to respond in a timely fashion and to connect you with the outside patent attorney in a coordinated fashion.

If you have emailed and telephoned an Innovation Gateway team member about an urgent issue, but have not received a response, please email Derek Eberhart, associate vice president for research, at dereke@uga.edu.

You should always assume that a deadline previously described to you still applies. These deadlines are typically identified in correspondence from Innovation Gateway’s patent counsel describing the action that needs to be taken. Typically, governmental patent offices do not either close or extend deadlines, even for events that could cause broad disruptions in communication. However, the same situations that result in a reduction in Innovation Gateway operations could possibly cause such closures or extensions. As a result, Innovation Gateway and outside patent counsel continually monitor for patent office closures or changes in applicable deadlines. We will take such closures or extensions into account, but we will instruct our patent counsel to take action during this period of time to preserve all substantive rights possible.

Importantly, while there are sometimes ways for us to receive additional time to take action with respect to a pending application (e.g., under existing or emergency rules), we must assume this does not apply to the filing of new patent applications in advance of publications or new prior art. So, everyone involved should work with our patent counsel to secure timely filing of new applications during this period.

Graduate Student Research

The Graduate School has posted an FAQ addressing graduate student concerns. Please consult that page for the latest guidance.

Communications / Media Inquiries

All media inquiries regarding coronavirus are being managed through UGA Marketing & Communications. If you receive an inquiry, please direct it to Greg Trevor at 706-542-8090 or gregory.trevor@uga.edu.