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Research & Creative Activities

Various types of research will continue on campus, prioritizing those activities that are critical or cannot be delayed. Research that may be conducted virtually will continue online.

July 9, 2020

Here’s what you need to know:

  • California State University system has published a guidance for increasing on-campus research activity. The guidelines include the current research level of operations, the system’s phased approach to increasing research activities, and general implementation framework. 
  • As long as work locations remain open to essential personnel only, HSU faculty, staff, and students whose participation in essential research activities that are not feasible with telecommuting may request permission to work from their usual research facilities.
  • Researchers working in laboratory settings are also expected to follow the Guidelines for Covid-19 prevention while working in the laboratory. 
  • All non-essential domestic and international travel has been cancelled by the Chancellor’s Office.
  • All human subject research should conform to University guidance on social distancing and self isolation.
  • Develop plans to ensure you are prepared to care for animals and to safeguard research projects in the event the pandemic leads to a disruption in research activities/access and staffing.

The Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (ORSP) is working closely with HSU leadership to monitor COVID-19 developments and provide appropriate guidance related to research activities and externally funded projects. Find the latest updates here.

ORSP is maintaining limited office hours between 9 – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday. Only essential personnel will be present on campus to maintain business continuity for hiring employees and payroll processing. If you need to schedule an in-person appointment during those hours, please contact hsuf@humboldt.edu so we can make sure someone is available to meet you. We will make every effort to expedite all in-person interactions for those critical business functions. 

Check the ORSP site for the best source of information about current research activities and protocols. If you have more questions, please email kacie.flynn@humboldt.edu.

If you’re looking for guidance on responsible conduct of research, including Institutional Review Board (IRB) and human subject research, this online course provides an overview of COVID-19, prevention strategies, recommended laboratory practices, and points to consider as students, staff, and faculty move forward to a return to activities and operations within research institution settings. Access to this course is available through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative

Updates on the current status of research facilities, accessing labs, remote field work, research related travel, and other topics can be found below. 

Accessing Labs & Research Facilities

As long as work locations remain open to essential personnel only, HSU faculty, staff, and students whose participation in essential research activities that are not feasible with telecommuting may request permission to work from their usual research facilities, with the understanding that they must adhere to proper social distancing protocols. Essential research activities include those that cannot be delayed due to grant expectations, preservation of samples or data, and degree completion, and also may include maintenance of research equipment, care of organisms, distribution of supplies, and protection of research subjects.

All personnel accessing campus facilities are expected to complete the COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines Course, which may be found on the HSU Training and Professional Development webpage.  Those researchers working in laboratory settings are also expected to follow the Guidelines for Covid-19 prevention while working in the laboratory.

For those projects where work locations are on the HSU main campus or at the Telonicher Marine Lab, researchers must be approved by their appropriate administrator to remain on campus or to maintain an intermittent connection to campus labs. 

Academic researchers who need to access their labs/spaces during this time should coordinate through their college Deans. Coordination begins with sending your Dean a completed HSU COVID-19 Safety and Hazard Plan, and a Job Hazard Analysis. HSU recognizes the importance of being able to access your lab spaces and we are making it a priority to maintain research continuity on campus, while also maintaining your health and safety.

Travel to Conduct Remote Fieldwork

Currently in Humboldt County and across the State of California, only essential travel is allowed. “Essential travel” is defined as University or Auxiliary sponsored travel that is required or under contractual obligation to: 

  • Preserve the safety of a research subject and cannot be postponed; or 
  • Preserve the results of a research activity and cannot be postponed

Within Humboldt County: "Domestic travel" is considered anything outside of Humboldt County. Currently, you do not need any special approvals to travel within the county. However, we do ask that Principal Investigators submit risk mitigation plans to ORSP before conducting local field work. 

Outside of Humboldt County: If you are requesting domestic travel to a location/field site outside of Humboldt County, please contact ORSP to discuss obtaining presidential approval prior to travel. Email kacie.flynn@humboldt.edu to initiate that review process.

All international travel remains suspended at this time. 

For details on travel restrictions, go to the Travel section.

Research with Human Subjects

All human subject research should conform to University guidance on social distancing and self isolation. If you have an active IRB protocol and need to submit a modification for any of the reasons cited below, the IRB will respond quickly. 

We will continue to review protocols, modifications, and renewals in a timely manner, with the priority of protecting the safety of researchers and participants. Please also remember that any protocol deviations, unanticipated problems or adverse events need to be reported to the IRB as usual. Please contact Susan Brater at sb64@humboldt.edu if you have questions or concerns about your current IRB protocols.

  • Whenever feasible, pursue alternatives to in-person methods of data collection, such as phone or computer-mediated interviews and surveys;
  • Pause study procedures that involve sustained in-person interaction with human subjects in vulnerable groups per CDC recommendations, including individuals older than 60, those with underlying health conditions, and those who are immunocompromised.
  • Protocols should define how physical distancing and other safety recommendations consistent with public health directives will be maintained (e.g., wearing PPE, hand washing, disinfecting study site surfaces, etc.).
  • Ensure adherence to any guidelines or restrictions specific to study sites, such as schools and programs, where research participants are located.
  • In study protocols and consent documentation, risk-benefit assessments and steps taken to mitigate risks must account for any COVID-19 related physical, emotional, social, and economic risks to human subjects.   
  • Informed consent procedures must include acknowledgment and sufficient information about increased risks associated with in-person and on-campus research. Consent documents should request that research participants notify study personnel of any COVID-19 diagnoses within 14 days of the research procedures and give information about how to report this. Consent documents should also promise research participants that they will be informed of any COVID-19 diagnoses among research personnel within 14 days of the research procedures.
  • Any unanticipated problems or adverse events related to COVID-19 exposure as part of approved study protocols should be reported to the University IRB immediately. 

Research with Animal Subjects

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) strongly recommends that faculty, staff and students take a proactive approach and develop plans to ensure that you are prepared to care for your animals and to safeguard your research projects in the event that the evolving status of COVID-19 leads to a disruption in research activities/access and staffing.

It is imperative that investigators have contingency plans in their labs for ongoing research protocols and any unique care requirements for research animals. Items to address and consider include:

  • The impact of truncated study timelines or data collection. Consider delaying initiation of protocols with long study durations.
  • Addressing any staffing concerns for ongoing studies through cross-training and personnel amendments.
  • Updating all contact information to prepare for potential personnel absences in the event that someone who is not familiar with the facility needs additional information.

As always, animal welfare is a primary concern and we will all work together to ensure that appropriate care is delivered without interruption. Please contact Rick Zechman at rick.zechman@humboldt.edu or Joanna.Pifferini@humboldt.edu if you have questions or concerns about your current IACUC protocols.