Carnegie Mellon University

Researcher Resources

Last updated March 31, 2020 at 9:45 a.m.

The following resources will help researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to these topics, you can find all research communications on the OVPR website

Immediate Transition to Remote Activities

CMU is taking preventative measures to keep our community healthy and safe during the rapid spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an order mandating all non-life-sustaining businesses in the state to close by 8 p.m. on March 19. All research activities must transition to remote operation immediately (see guidance below on developing lab continuity). 

If your research activities cannot be done remotely, please plan to postpone on-campus work and replace it with off-campus work through at least the end of April and take the necessary steps to shut down your operations and secure your labs.

The only research-related activities permitted in CMU facilities will be those that have been approved by a college and satisfy very specific functions including:

  • sustaining living organisms and perishable specimens, and
  • maintaining the facilities and equipment necessary to allow remote operation (for example, re-booting servers or computers for remote access.

Researchers who believe they need critical short-term access to CMU facilities to perform irreplaceable, long-term research studies that cannot be conducted remotely must receive approval from their dean and the vice president for research. Approval of such activity will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.  

Please note the following:

  • Negative impact on costs and schedule will not be adequate justification for approval of special cases.
  • Under no circumstances will “routine” research activities be granted permission, regardless of the length of time spent on premises.
  • A student must not be designated as the primary person responsible for the maintenance functions described above.
  • Under no circumstances should a student who is uncomfortable coming to campus for research-related activities be compelled or pressured to do so.
  • Staff who have reservations or concerns about performing allowable activities on campus are encouraged to engage with their Human Resources business partner and their department.
  • Per previous statements, undergraduate students should not be on campus performing research of any kind (credit, voluntary or for pay) for any reason. Similarly, undergraduates may not be designated to support allowable research activities above in either a primary or a backup capacity.

We are proud of our community's thoughtfulness during the transition to remote operations.

We are now announcing a second and final opportunity for the CMU research community to donate any excess PPE that may be in your labs. The most pressing need is for masks, particularly N95 type (but others are accepted). Other items to consider for donation are goggles, disposable medical gowns, gloves, and medical face shields. No liquids or perishable materials should be donated.

Donation Process:

  • The leaders of labs/research groups with any temporarily excess PPE need to email the following information to by Wednesday, April 1st.
    • Lab location (Building and Room Number)
    • Lab designee to retrieve PPE
    • Lab designee can be CMU staff, faculty or grad student. The lab designee CANNOT be an undergraduate student.
  • Social distancing protocols must be observed at all times. Keep your distance!
  • PPE collection from labs can be done Thursday, April 2nd and Friday, April 3rd, between the hours of 9am – 5pm.
  • To reiterate, this is one-time lab access to gather excess PPE, not an opportunity to do research or perform other non-approved research-related tasks.  All labs should be transitioned and ramped down at this time.
  • PPE must be dropped off to the CMU University Police Department at 300 S. Craig St. in Oakland by 6pm on Friday, April 3rd.  University Police and Facilities Management Services are making arrangements for delivery to the Allegheny County Health Department on Saturday.

The OVPR is aware and sensitive to the fact that many members of the CMU community have requested access to 3D printing and other prototyping facilities for the purpose of designing and fabricating products and parts like masks, face shield, etc., that could be used to assist the efforts of the healthcare community. At this time CMU laboratories and maker spaces remain closed. CMU senior leadership are in direct conversation with leadership of the major local health care providers and other community groups (foundations, community outreach, etc.) on the topic of how to best utilize the design and rapid prototyping (3D printing, laser cutting, etc.) capabilities and facilities of CMU. As soon as we have a clear path for specific efforts that would be most impactful for those communities and we have the necessary approvals and support of our partners that they can use things made in this manner, we will open up and mobilize the relevant CMU facilities and personnel.

  • All research-related visits planned through at least the end of April should be postponed.
  • No new requests for collaborating visitors that will happen during this period will be processed or approved.
  • External visitors who are already present on campus must also work remotely and must not have responsibility for performing any of the above allowable on-campus functions.
  • Those who have questions or need additional advice about how to proceed with guests currently on campus, please contact CMU's Enterprise Risk Management.


  • The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC), Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation (CTTEC), and Sponsored Projects Accounting (SPA) will continue to operate remotely so that proposal submission and reporting deadlines can be met.
  • If your ability to meet sponsor deadlines or deliverables is, or may be, impacted by COVID-19, researchers should contact their program officer now to understand what, if any, accommodations or adjustments can be made. Please be advised that federal and non-federal sponsors continue to issue guidance and amendments to policies in these uncertain circumstances.
  • In the near term (i.e., the next 30 days) we are asking researchers to continue to charge student, staff and faculty efforts to their existing funding sources. During this time, researchers should work with their departmental research administrators, SPA and/or OSP should any issues arise.
  • In the event an individual working on an existing sponsored award requests to work remotely from a foreign country, please contact OSP.
  • OVPR is maintaining a page summarizing current guidance from agencies and is also working directly with agencies and university professional associations (AAU, COGR, etc.) to obtain more uniform guidance on what, if any, accommodations will be made under the current circumstances.
Liquid nitrogen and lab gases:
  • Matheson, CMU’s supplier of liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide and other lab gases and liquids, is operating and will continue deliveries twice per week.  Orders can continue to be placed through the Mellon Storeroom. 
  • EHS is coordinating directly with laboratories and building managers to confirm delivery processes and access.  If you have any questions or concerns on the delivery process please contact EHS at 412-268-8182 or

See the appropriate section of the FAQ for information about postal services and other delivery processes.
  • All human subjects work should be moved to remote operations. No requests for access to campus will be granted for the purpose of performing human subject studies.
  • IRB and the Information Security Office (ISO) have developed a guidance document for remote human subjects research. This document includes what to do if you are trying to move your human subject studies to a remote setting, as well as recommendations for data security and preserving personally identifiable information while analyzing data remotely.
  • ORIC and the Finance office have issued temporary guidance on issuing human subject payments for remote studies, including options for using MTurk, PayPal, Venmo and Gift Cards.
  • Recommended considerations for the continuity of human subjects work are contained in the researcher preparedness guide. Some specific issues to consider include:
    • impact of subjects unable to participate due to illness
    • ability to perform studies with reduced research staff (including students and staff researchers).


  • No research-related meetings should be happening on CMU premises. All meetings and collaborations should be conducted via phone or video.

Canceled Travel Expenses

The CDC has issued in-depth recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection of work spaces. Proper cleaning and disinfecting is a best practice measure to prevent the spread of viruses and should be taken into account as researchers ramp down their research.

Recommended best practices include but are not limited to:

  • Reduce clutter in your lab and office space.
  • Submit a request to FMS to clean your lab if interested. Note that CMU FMS cleaning crews have increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols and schedules. However, standard FMS practice is that laboratories are only cleaned upon request.
  • Lab personnel should regularly clean the surfaces with which they are in contact themselves and take into account surfaces that cleaning crews would normally not touch such as specialized equipment, etc.
  • The CDC provides additional guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

CMU has posted guidance for social distancing for students and in the workplace.

The OVPR has also posted other specific guidance for social distancing in a research setting.

University Libraries Remote Resources

How to connect to online resources, return materials and more.

Coronavirus and Your Health

What to do if you experience symptoms and tips for staying healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers regarding travel, mental health support, self-isolation and more.