COVID-19 Research Planning

To contain the spread of COVID-19, all spring semester classes beginning March 30 will be taught remotely. Faculty and staff are urged to work from home. At this time, UNL does not plan to restrict access to research spaces, and all research support services will continue remotely.

The Office of Research and Economic Development is continually developing guidance for investigators. Continue checking this website for updated resources and planning documents. Visit covid19.unl.edu for the status of university operations.



How should my group transition to remote operations?

Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation and the transition to remote operations, new procedures for Nebraska research facilities and personnel are in effect.

Access to facilities and services

Maintaining research and creative activity

Research and creative activities will continue, with some exceptions listed below. Investigators are urged to use appropriate safety and social distancing practices, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between people. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to conduct research and creative activities remotely as much as possible.

Faculty or research directors are to decide what research can be conducted or initiated in their labs. Additional approval – beyond research compliance approvals – is not required to continue ongoing research.

Suspended activities

The following research activities are currently suspended:

Working with undergraduates

Undergraduate student workers paid to engage in research and creative activities may continue these paid activities, following the recommended safety practices noted above, at the discretion of faculty or research directors. Undergraduate students engaged in research and creative activity to earn course credit or as volunteers may continue only if activities can happen remotely.

The Office of Sponsored Programs is continuing to submit proposals remotely. Investigators are encouraged to contact their pre-award grant coordinators and post-award project specialists as needed. Many federal agencies are adjusting deadlines due to difficult circumstances. However, given the uncertainty, OSP encourages principal investigators to consider submissions early before the deadline dates.

Principal investigators are urged to review guidance from the funding agencies with which they work. If agencies are officially closed, proposals will likely remain in a queue, pending resumption of agency operations. This has been the case during budget-related shutdowns. Information will be posted here and on the OSP website. General questions may be directed to unlosp@unl.edu.

Are there recent requests for proposals around COVID-19?

Yes. A curated list of COVID-19-related calls is available. This list is updated daily by the Office of Proposal Development, so check back often to view newly released calls. To request a specific call be added to the list, email Tisha Mullen, director of proposal development.

Will ORED offer extensions on internal funding opportunities?

As UNL continues to develop and implement additional safeguards to protect the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, be assured that review and funding of ORED Internal Funding Opportunities will proceed as planned. Layman and Research Council applications with March deadlines are expected to be reviewed and awarded on schedule. The application deadline for the Arts and Humanities Research Enhancement Program is extended to Friday, April 3, with the intention to make awards as planned for a July 1 start date. ORED will continue to correspond with faculty interested in the Biomedical Research Seed Grant and Revision Award opportunities on a rolling basis as described in the RFA. ORED will be flexible regarding faculty need for active award period extensions and welcomes correspondence on a project-by-project basis as the impact of COVID-19 unfolds.

Can my research group assist with, or obtain, personal protective equipment?

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a critical need for researchers and healthcare providers alike. Examples include N95 face masks, gloves, germicidal wipes, surgical gowns, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, face shields and PAPR hoods and facepieces. To help prioritize needs, UNL is taking inventory of PPE availability on campus, as well as identifying groups and organizations that need such equipment. If you or your organization fit into either of these categories, please complete the web form to help ORED build an available inventory, as well as create a list of needs on campus and in the community. Survey participation is voluntary.

Where will my packages be delivered?

UNL is setting up a central receiving site to accept package deliveries. The address is 942 N. 22nd St. dock. Packages will be delivered and secured at 942 N. 22nd St.

Individuals waiting to receive critical items can call UNL’s Facilities Service Desk, 402-472-1550, to arrange for a pickup or delivery by Business Operations staff. The Facilities Service Desk is staffed 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, for all service needs.

If you have packages scheduled to arrive from UPS or FedEx that contain perishables, notify Facilities Management Services that the packages are coming. Identify the individual(s) who should be notified upon their arrival to ensure delivery and pickup arrangements can be made in a timely manner.

The university operations team is working closely with the Office of Research and Economic Development to ensure all necessary research equipment and supplies get delivered directly to the needed locations. This will be addressed on a case-by-case basis under the coordination of ORED and Business and Finance.

U.S. mail and distribution services will continue uninterrupted and will be stored for pickup or delivery when requested. Individuals expecting a delivery from a vendor other than FedEx or UPS should contact the vendor to either update the delivery address to 942 N. 22nd St., 68503, or ensure the vendor has the phone number of individuals to meet at the site to accept delivery.

Deliveries from vendors other than UPS and FedEx will continue to arrive at the location provided when the order was placed. Please make sure to communicate with those vendors if necessary to provide a valid phone number for someone who will be present for the delivery or to request the package(s) be re-routed to central receiving at 942 N. 22nd St.

How do I work with export control and prepare to conduct research remotely?

UNL’s export control and research compliance services staff are operating per usual. All export control operations are conducted either via email or NUgrant/NuRamp, and all export control staff have the ability to work remotely.

Research teams are urged to make the necessary plans to move research activities to work remotely. Alternatively, the principal investigator may decide to initiate a study hold on all export-controlled research activities that cannot be performed securely from off-campus locations and/or are not essential to the completion of the project until further notice. Off-campus work locations must meet the same physical and electronic security standards as the original work locations outlined in the determination or TCP. Any plans to work remotely, in this regard, must be approved by the Export Control Compliance Program.

In an effort to assist export control staff who are accommodating COVID-19 requests, review the FAQ document. Following review, please contact exportcontrol@unl.edu with questions related specifically to your research and how the situation impacts your project.

How does COVID-19 affect human subjects research?

Limiting community access is key to preventing the virus’ spread. Principal investigators should prioritize the health and safety of human subjects when deciding how to move forward with research activities. Guidance is now available on the IRB website. Please read through the posted guidelines first. If you have additional questions related specifically to your research and how your project may be impacted, please contact the UNL IRB or Rachel Wenzl, associate director of Research Compliance Services, at 402-472-8196.

How does remote access affect research data access and security?

We recognize the importance of working remotely during this time. In many cases, remote activity does not pose research data security concerns. However, research personnel must consider whether or not appropriate data security and confidentiality measures can be implemented for work to be conducted from off-campus locations. Please check with the Office of Sponsored Programs, Institutional Review Board and Export Control as appropriate to the type of research you are conducting.

How does COVID-19 affect research with animals?

UNL adheres to provisions of the Public Health Service policy, Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals; Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (ag guide); Animal Welfare Act and Regulations; and commitments detailed in our animal welfare assurance with the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. This includes advance planning for conditions that could arise as a result of a human pandemic (e.g., influenza) or outbreaks of novel infections (e.g., COVID-19 disease due to infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) that could jeopardize the health and wellbeing of animals because of a lack of personnel to care for the animals and/or to conduct official Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee business.

What are the travel guidelines for researchers?

Returning from travel

Based on guidance from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, we ask any student, faculty and staff who may be returning from travel in areas in the United States that have widespread transmission of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days before coming to campus, even for essential reasons. This includes anyone who visited or travelled through these areas of the United States.

Making travel plans

To protect the safety and well-being of UNL researchers and the community at large, travel is restricted for university research purposes. Travel will be approved only if a) it is mission critical; b) there is a low risk of spreading infection, in either direction; c) the traveler follows appropriate social distancing guidelines; and d) no reasonable alternatives to travel exist. Until further notice, travel for research purposes will not be business as usual.

Those who approve travel will make decisions on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate associate dean for research and/or department chair. This also applies to work that may occur at locations other than the researcher’s home or in UNL facilities. Travel will not be approved for locations in which community spread of COVID-19 has occurred. At this time, University of Nebraska policy prohibits official UNL travel beyond Nebraska’s borders.

The criteria used to evaluate the necessity of travel may include:

  1. The location, type and timing of the proposed work/travel request.
  2. Whether the travel or work is considered mission critical.
  3. The potential impact of not completing the work or making the trip.
  4. Whether travel can be delayed without substantially affecting the project.
  5. Whether someone already at, or near, the location can cover the work, thus making travel unnecessary. 

If travel to an outdoor location is required to conduct critical research, appropriate social distancing practices during travel must be implemented. Taking multiple vehicles is required if more than one individual is traveling.

NU procedures for employee travel arrangement cancelations

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If you have questions or concerns about how this emerging situation may impact research activities, contact Deb Hamernik, associate vice chancellor for research, at unlresearch@unl.edu.

Additional resources for UNL employees

Local, state and federal resources