Office of Research

Research Resumption

Restarting Research

After a long and frustrating pause in all but essential research activities, UGA’s research, scholarly and creative enterprise will soon be getting back to work.  The Research Work Group commissioned by President Morehead and Provost Hu and chaired by me (with co-chair Michelle Momany from Franklin College) – one of several established to help guide the resumption of University activities – has developed the plan for a three-phase ramp up of research activities, beginning June 15th.  The members of the Research Work Group are listed below.  I would like to thank them for their thoughtful input and diligent efforts to restart research at UGA, while at the same time carefully protecting the health and welfare of our researchers.  Also, I would like to thank Jessica Orbock, senior legal advisor in the Office of Research, who worked closely with Michelle and me to finalize the documents listed on this page.  Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to thank you – the University’s researchers and scholars – for your patience and understanding during this difficult and unprecedented time!

Warmest regards,

David Lee
Vice President for Research

Research Resumption Requirements for UGA Faculty/PIs

Updated on July 30, 2020, at 2:45 p.m.

Background: Effective March 21, 2020, UGA researchers were instructed to work remotely. Limited exceptions were made for onsite research activities deemed essential by the Vice President for Research. Essential activities during this “Phase 0” included preserving animals, plants, and other irreplaceable materials and protecting major investments of time and resources. Additionally, COVID-19 research activities directly related to vaccines, drugs, tests, and other immediate needs were approved.

Scope: These Research Resumption Requirements apply to all onsite research activities including those across all UGA facilities, whether located on the main Athens campus or other UGA campuses, as well as research activities in the field and at community sites (e.g., schools, healthcare facilities, camps, and participant homes).

Requirements:

Phase 1 Research Resumption Requirements. Beginning June 15, as directed by UGA and USG, Phase 1 represents a partial restoration of research activities. All essential research previously approved during Phase 0 may continue subject to meeting these Phase 1 requirements, with additional research also permitted as described below. On-campus presence should continue to be limited, and research activities that can be conducted remotely should still continue via telework. For additional guidance, please refer to the UGA Guide to Return to Campus.

  • Before engaging in onsite research activities, each research faculty member/principal investigator must develop a Research Resumption Plan (RRP). This includes investigators who will be working alone in their UGA offices or other onsite space, as well as those who have been performing essential or COVID-19-related research on campus during the lockdown. Each RRP must be approved by the faculty member’s/principal investigator’s immediate supervisor (e.g. department head, center director, school chair, associate dean for research, dean, or vice president, depending on the unit). Research service facilities (e.g. core facilities, animal facilities) are not required to use the RRP form but must develop their own guidelines approved by the unit to which they report.
  • Except for those operating in research service facilities with their own guidelines as above, research personnel may not engage in onsite research activities until an RRP for those activities is approved. Prior to returning to work, all such personnel must review the RRP for each physical area in which they will be working and must also complete applicable USG and UGA COVID-19 safety modules as directed by UGA policy.
  • Each RRP will establish a protocol for the resumption of research activities that follows all health and safety requirements/guidelines from UGA and USG and meets all of these Phase 1 requirements. RRPs should identify steps to maintain required social distancing (e.g. as of May 1, 2020, required social distancing is set at 6 ft) and to sanitize equipment and space with particular emphasis on frequently touched items and surfaces and any transitions from one shift of researchers to another. RRPs should include strategies to ensure the overall safety of individuals who must work alone, particularly those working outside of routine hours or in remote or isolated locations, or with potential hazards. RRPs should also identify appropriate COVID-19 related safety measures for small laboratory and other spaces that require two individuals for safety in operating machinery or conducting research procedures that require more than one person.
  • Faculty/principal investigators will determine which of their research activities to prioritize for inclusion in their RRP given these requirements. In deciding which research to prioritize, research group leaders should carefully consider the needs of next-generation scientists, especially graduate students who are within six months of graduating and postdocs who expect to go on the job market within the next six months. Research group leaders should also be mindful that research core facilities, research compliance committees (e.g. the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC)), and other research support units may experience delays due to backlogs.
  • In each RRP, occupancy in indoor onsite locations must be limited to one individual for spaces of less than 500 sq ft, and for larger spaces, to no more than one individual (including human subjects, if applicable) per 250 sq ft at any one time. Personal/individual offices are also included in this requirement. Personnel may work in shifts to meet requirements. Personnel working outside of office/laboratory space, including outdoors, or traveling to remote sites, must adhere to applicable social distancing requirements for those locations.
  • Travel should only be considered if essential to the research program. Research-related travel must be part of an approved Research Resumption Plan under the Office of Research guidelines. In the comments section of your Travel Authorization, include the RRP approval date and approver name. UGA vehicles are limited to two simultaneous occupants for Phases 1 and 2 of reopening. Effective July 15, 2020, if two occupants are in a vehicle traveling on university business, both occupants are required to wear face coverings.
  • RRPs that include work with human subject participants should address the specific safety and sanitation concerns that arise from this work, including screening to help eliminate participants who may be COVID-19-positive (unless a study requirement). Additionally, reassessment and IRB approval of changes to research protocols will be required to account for COVID-19 risks to participants and researchers.
  • RRP and IRB processes are separate but parallel. Some information required is the same for both, but neither process is dependent upon the other. An approved RRP is required to begin or resume research activities during any phase of campus reopening. If a project involves in-person contact with human participants, the HRPP process outlined in the HRPP Toolkit must be followed.
  • A graduate student may only conduct onsite research under an approved RRP. The graduate student’s research should be included in an RRP submitted for approval by the student’s major advisor.
  • Undergraduate students may not perform onsite research for credit during Phase 1 or 2. Full- or part-time employees who are also undergraduates do not need special permission to engage in their employment duties.
  • Requests for exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the immediate supervisor (plan approver). Any elements of an RRP that deviate from these guidelines should be specifically noted for special approval. Any conflicts between faculty, staff, or students that cannot be resolved by the immediate supervisor may be escalated to the Vice President for Research.
  • The immediate supervisor (plan approver) or the Vice President for Research may terminate an RRP, or require changes, in the event any plan is not followed.
  • Research activities may revert to Phase 0 guidelines (only research approved as essential) in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence and USG or UGA directives to do so.

Phase 2 Research Resumption Requirements. Beginning July 20, 2020, Phase 2 will see the continuation of Phase 1 requirements with modifications as described below. As in Phase 1, onsite research activities may only be conducted under an approved Research Resumption Plan (RRP). Faculty/principal investigators who began onsite research in Phase 1 may continue to work under an approved Phase 1 RRP so long as it addresses all research activities, personnel, and onsite spaces, as well as applicable Research Resumption Requirements. However, faculty/principal investigators wishing to add personnel or made other adjustments in Phase 2 should revise their previously-approved RRP and submit it for approval as in Phase 1. The goal is for onsite research to continue, and increase where possible, while continuing to comply with all applicable social distancing and health and safety guidance. Faculty/principal investigators must continue to meet all Phase 1 requirements except as indicated below.

  • Research personnel must limit occupancy in indoor onsite locations to one individual for spaces of less than 400 sq ft, and for larger spaces, to no more than one individual (including human subjects, if applicable) per 200 sq ft at any one time. Personnel working outside of office/laboratory space, including outdoors, or traveling to remote sites, must adhere to applicable social distancing requirements for those locations.
  • Travel, including to remote research sites, may be included in the RRP. UGA vehicles are limited to two simultaneous occupants for Phases 1 and 2 of reopening. Effective July 15, 2020, if two occupants are in a vehicle traveling on university business, both occupants are required to wear face coverings.

Phase 3 Research Resumption Requirements. Beginning Aug. 10, 2020, Phase 3 represents a full restoration of onsite research to the extent possible while complying with applicable social distancing and other health directives from UGA and USG. However, research personnel may continue to work remotely or in shifts as necessary to meet safety requirements and to accommodate individuals who belong to vulnerable populations.

  • For Phase 3, a minimum distance of 6 feet between personnel should be maintained in research facilities. Faculty may continue under approved Phase 2 RRPs unless additional personnel will be added to their spaces, in which case they should modify and request approval of the revised Phase 2 RRPs. Faculty should detail precautions that will be taken in circumstances in which it will be difficult or impossible to maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement.
  • Research personnel should continue to use remote technology where possible when distancing requirements cannot be met. The Phase 3 RRP should carefully address the safety of areas that could become congested as well as equipment or other assets that are likely to be used by multiple individuals in the same or subsequent shifts. This includes equipment in research spaces and interactions with research participants.
  • Faculty/principal investigators should carefully consider the need for travel while public health concerns due to COVID-19 continue, and any travel should be included in an RRP for approval.
  • If on-campus instruction has resumed, undergraduates will no longer need individual approval in an RRP to participate in onsite research for credit.
  • Requests for exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the immediate supervisor (plan approver). Any elements of an RRP that deviate from these guidelines should be specifically noted for special approval. Any conflicts between faculty, staff, or students that cannot be resolved by the immediate supervisor may be escalated to the Vice President for Research.
  • The immediate supervisor (plan approver) or the Vice President for Research may terminate an RRP, or require changes, in the event any plan is not followed
  • Research activities may revert to Phase 0, 1, or 2 guidelines in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence and directives to do so.

Research Working Group Members

NameTitleDepartment
Buntin, G. DavidInterim Assistant Provost and Campus DirectorEntomology Griffin Campus
Burt, KevinDirector, Research Business & HROffice of Research
Darvill, AlCo-Director; Regents ProfessorComplex Carbohydrate Research Center; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Gay, JenniferAssociate ProfessorHealth Promotion & Behavior, Institute of Gerontology, College of Public Health
Gleason, Janis D.Executive Director for Strategic MarketingMarketing & Communications
Hooks, ShelleyAssociate Vice President for Research & Director, Office of Internal Grants and Awards; Professor, Pharmaceutical & Biomedical SciencesOffice of Research; College of Pharmacy
Hornak, LarryAssociate Vice President for Research, Integrative Team Initiatives; Professor, College of EngineeringOffice of Research; College of Engineering
Lee, David (Chair)Vice President for ResearchOffice of Research
McCallie, CarlyDirector of Federal RelationsVP for Government Relations
Momany, Michelle
(Co-chair)
Associate Dean, Franklin College of Arts & Sciences; Professor of Plant BiologyFranklin College of Arts & Sciences and Department of Plant Biology
Mote, ThomasAssociate Dean, Franklin College of Arts & Sciences; Distinguished Research ProfessorFranklin College of Arts & Sciences and Department of Geography
Ozias-Akins, PeggyD.W. Brooks ProfessorDepartment of Horticulture
Stice, SteveD.W. Brooks Professor & GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Animal Reproductive PhysiologyAnimal & Dairy Science
Tiemeyer, MikeCo-Director; ProfessorComplex Carbohydrate Research Center; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Tschepikow, KyleSpecial Assistant to the President and Director of Strategy InnovationOffice of the President
West, ChrisDepartment Head & ProfessorBiochemistry & Molecular Biology
West, JoeInterim Dean and DirectorCollege of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
Young, HenryAssociate Professor, Kroger Professor, Director, Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes and Policy (PHSOP)College of Pharmacy