Department COVID-19 Updates:
COVID-19 Research Planning UNL IRB COVID-19 response

COVID-19 Research Planning

The spring semester is underway, and employees are encouraged to continue to work remotely if possible. Buildings remain open and mail and package distribution continues.

Meantime, planning for the fall semester is underway and, although there are still unknowns that could affect those plans, it is expected that, once vaccination of the education sector within Phase 1B has been completed (likely by mid-August), university-sponsored travel can resume and greater in-person research activities will be permitted.

For more on the emerging fall plans, including classroom activity, see Chancellor Green’s latest message.

A successful fall semester requires the university community to continue to follow current COVID guidelines. Students, instructors and staff will continue to be randomly selected to participate in the required testing. They should have received an email and/or text message informing them about the need to get tested via the university’s saliva-based testing program. The notification should also be available in the Safer Community app (under “Next Step” on the app’s main screen) or the online COVID-19 Testing Portal.

Before restarting research and creative activities, scholars still must review the guidelines for reopening spaces and complete a reopening plan.

Protecting the health and safety of the campus, community and visitors will remain our highest priority.


Operational Status

  • Random mitigation COVID-19 testing program launched Feb. 18.
  • Abide by local health guidance.
  • Follow UNL health, safety policies.
  • Continue reducing workplace density.
  • Follow reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist.
  • Face coverings are required on campus.
  • International travel prohibited; domestic travel outside Nebraska highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval.

COVID-Related Research News

Nutrient compound shows promise for halting mother-to-fetus Zika transmission
April 21, 2021
Nebraska researchers are exploring whether a nutrient compound they are developing can stymie mother-to-fetus transmission of Zika. More

NU team earns top 10 finish in Pandemic Response Challenge
March 16, 2021
A team of researchers from three University of Nebraska institutions finished among the top 10 teams in a global competition to develop an artificial intelligence-driven model to advise policymakers on how best to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.More

Researchers find ways to push international research forward, despite COVID-19
March 1, 2021
Researchers have learned to adjust their projects amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.More

SMILE project aided by COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant
January 11, 2021
Project examines children as they transition from second to third grade and how their self-regulation, motivation and interactions with teachers, parents and peers impact their classroom behavior. More

Read more COVID-Related News from the Office of Research and Economic Development

Guidelines and FAQs

Animal Care

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.

Export Control

UNL’s Export Control and Research Compliance Services staff continue to operate per usual. All Export Control operations are conducted either via email or NUgrant/NuRamp, and staff are able to work remotely.

As the university restarts research activities, personnel are still encouraged to work remotely whenever possible. Off-campus work locations must meet the same physical and electronic security standards as the original work locations outlined in the export control determination or technology control plan. Any plans to work remotely, in this regard, must be approved by the Export Control Compliance Program. To assist Export Control staff accommodating COVID-19 requests, please take an extra moment to review the FAQs below. Following review, if there are any questions related specifically to your research and how it impacts your project, please contact the UNL ECCP at

Research Data Access and Security

In many cases, remote work 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.

Human Subjects Research

The institutional official, in consultation with the Institutional Review Board chair and Research Compliance Services, removed the suspension of in-person human subjects research July 6, 2020. However, research personnel are still encouraged to conduct human subjects research via remote activity whenever possible.

All in-person human subjects research protocols, under the auspices of UNL, have been allowed to resume activities. Research personnel are expected to follow all university policies and guidance or relevant federal guidance regarding the performance of in-person research protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full details and guidelines are available on the UNL IRB COVID-19 webpage and FAQ.

Operational Status

The following guidelines address university operations until further notice.

  • Mandatory saliva-based diagnostic testing will be required for students, faculty and staff beginning Jan. 25, 2021. More information about spring semester testing requirements and resources are available here.
  • Unit leaders must continue to abide by local health guidance. Updates on the COVID risk dial can be found on the Lincoln/Lancaster County Department of Health website.
  • University-sponsored international travel is prohibited; domestic travel outside Nebraska is highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval.
  • Through the encouragement of working remotely, flexible scheduling, and other flexible measures, unit leaders should continue to keep the density of individuals in a workplace to the minimum necessary.
  • Investigators should continue following the reopening guidelines and complete the reopening plan and checklist. Research teams are urged to review plans submitted in fall 2020 and ensure they are current and follow the latest campus, local and state recommendations and/or directed health measures.
  • The federal Office of Management and Budget extended administrative relief due to loss of operations through Sept. 30, 2020. This has expired. Investigators are urged to review the latest updates from UNL’s Office of Sponsored Programs.

Guidelines will be reevaluated regularly based on University of Nebraska policies; best practices recommended by the CDC and other leading health organizations (links provided at bottom of page); and according to local directed health measures.


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.

Sponsored Programs

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. General questions may be directed to

Federal Agency Guidelines


To protect the safety and well-being of UNL researchers and the community at large, international travel continues to be prohibited. Domestic travel outside Nebraska is highly discouraged and requires two levels of authorization/approval. The second level of travel authorization is offered in Concur through the Firefly portal. Travel approvers within each unit can manually add a designated supervisor to the travel request. Make sure to click “Approve and Forward” in Concur.

If travel within the state of Nebraska is required, researchers must speak to their supervisor before making plans. If there are UNL personnel in the location where you wish to go, consider utilizing those local faculty and staff instead of traveling.

When in-state travel is required to conduct critical research, employees must:

  • Follow appropriate social distancing guidelines, including in vehicles.
  • Limit the number of employees traveling to the same location. Employees must take separate vehicles to work sites.
  • Heed caution in areas where there is known community spread of COVID-19, including when stopping for food or fuel.
  • Use the appropriate personal protective equipment for the setting.