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Research Continuity Update

DEPARTMENT(S): 
March 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As previously announced, as of today, March 24, at 5:00 all research activities in labs are discontinued.  

Access to labs is restricted to essential personnel for maintaining research critical assets, such as lab animals, cell/tissue cultures, and maintaining essential equipment and materials. The goal is to maintain the existing research related assets in order to ensure laboratory viability and to comply with federal research regulations. 

We understand that this is disruptive to the scholarly activities you, your students, and your research team are conducting. We encourage you to take this time to focus on the research activities that can be completed remotely, such as writing papers and grant proposals, and completing data analysis.  The research support offices, Office of Sponsored Programs, the Sponsored Programs Accounting, the Office for Technology Transfer, the Research Solutions Institute and Research Computing will make every effort to continue to provide their usual level of service remotely. 

Here is an update on several areas (also please consult the periodically updated Q&A on the OSP website https://www.wpi.edu/research/resources/sponsored-programs/faqs): 

Paying Salaries on Grants. Salaries may be paid if work can be done remotely.  If work cannot be done remotely, the allowability of salary charges depend on the federal agencies (see attached sponsor guidelines).  If in doubt, please talk to your program manager.  

Research Contracts (with deliverables). We suggest contacting your technical counterpart at the sponsor and discuss revising timelines and whether or not student and/or post-doc salaries may continue to be charged to the project.  We also suggest asking if additional funding is available. 

Department of Defense Subcontracts. In the Governor’s announcement, on 3/23/20202 he specifically allowed activities for “personnel working for companies, and their subcontractors, who perform under contract to the Department of Defense providing materials and services to the Department of Defense".  If you believe that this directive applies to work that you are engaged in, please consult with VPR Vernescu and your prime award contact. 

Hiring New Research Staff/Students. Research staff and students can be hired on grants (or other non-operating funds) if work will be done remotely (e.g., in Math, Computer Science, Data Sciences, Learning Sciences etc.).  If work cannot be done remotely, do not hire any new staff or students at this time.  We are also not inviting visiting scholars until further notice. 

Recruiting Summer Research Students. Because of the uncertainty of the situation, a few PIs have chosen to postpone REUs at WPI until next summer.  If you have already recruited students or want to do so, they should refrain from making travel arrangements at this time. Depending on the starting date, a decision will be taken next month if such activities could be supported on campus. 

The 2020 Early Research Experience in E Term (EREE) program which targets first and second year WPI students is expected to proceed as planned 

Research Support. The Office of Sponsored Programs, the Sponsored Programs Accounting, the Office for Technology Transfer, the Research Solutions Institute and Research Computing will make every effort to continue to provide their usual level of service remotely. 

Travel. No new domestic or international travel can be charged to awards at this time, except if the booking has been made prior to the WPI directive to stop travel and cancellation is not possible.  Please consult with your Sponsored Programs Accounting contact if this is the case. 

Who to Contact: 

·       Sponsored Programs: Please reach out to your assigned contact 

·       Sponsored Programs Accounting:  Please reach out to your assigned contact   

·       Animal Care: Andy Butler (abutler@wpi.edu) or Elizabeth Diers (ediers@wpi.edu 

·       Human Subjects:  Gabe Johnson (gjohnson@wpi.edu) or resadm@wpi.edu 

·       Other Compliance Issues:  Gabe Johnson (gjohnson@wpi.edu) or resadm@wpi.edu 

·       Environmental Health/Lab Safety concerns: Daniel Sarachick (dtsarachick@wpi.eduor ehs@wpi.edu 

·       Technology Commercialization:  Todd Keiller (tkeiller@wpi.edu) 

 

 Thank you for all you do, and please take very good care.

 

Best regards,

Bogdan

 

Bogdan Vernescu,

Vice Provost for Research