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Research and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic is creating challenges that may impact your research or scholarly activity. As you work through disruptions in your research or scholarly activities, please be in close communication with your major professor. This communication can help you identify solutions so that you can stay on track with your work. As you identify areas where you need support, please ask for help. The Office of Research and Engagement’s COVID-19 Research FAQ and affiliated links provide information about research activities on the UT campus. Additionally, refer to the university’s coronavirus website to find resources that might be of use during this challenging time. You can also reach out to the Graduate School (gradschool@utk.edu) if you have questions or concerns.

Institutional Review Board

Conducting in-person human subjects research has been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Anyone engaged in research that involves human subjects, or who is planning to engage in such research, should check out the information page from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Human Research Protection Program providing guidance during COVID-19.

Laboratory and Studio Safety Concerns

The university has implemented cleaning and disinfecting, wearing face coverings, and social distancing measures intended to decrease the spread of coronavirus on our campus. These guidelines are to be implemented in all spaces, including laboratories, studios, and other research spaces. Laboratory directors and supervising faculty have been asked to work with all employees, including graduate students, to be creative and develop telework options when possible. When attending a laboratory on campus is necessary, a healthy work environment for employees must be a top priority.

When there are potential safety issues in the laboratory, graduate students have options to discuss them through various channels. As a recommended and typical first step, graduate students can discuss the situation with the laboratory director or supervising faculty member. If the issue is not resolved, the next step would be to bring the issue to the department head or leader of the unit involved for discussion. As an alternative approach, graduate students can discuss the situation with the University Ombudsperson as a neutral party outside of the laboratory reporting structure. The Ombudsperson is available as an independent and confidential resource who can help graduate students decide how to approach the situation, including how to discuss the matter with the supervisor.

To learn more about the University Ombudsperson visit ombuds.utk.edu. The Ombudsperson can be reached at 865-974-6273 and LisaYL@utk.edu. Please note that email is not a confidential form of communication, so it is best to limit email content to a meeting request.