Carnegie Mellon University

April 10, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Below are a number of updates related to CMU research activities during COVID-19, including:

  • Face covering requirements for approved research-related activities on campus
  • Planning for summer research activities (including visitors and summer research students)
  • COVID-19 related research, design and manufacturing initiatives
  • Requested information and feedback from the research community on impacts of the COVID pandemic

Face covering requirements for approved research-related activities on campus

University Health Services recently issued a communication asking the community to wear a face covering on campus.  Consistent with that communication, anyone who has been approved for research related activities on campus is expected to wear suitable face coverings while in CMU facilities performing those activities.  Cloth face coverings can include a scarf that you already own, or one that can easily be made with or without sewing.  Information regarding how to make, use and care for cloth face coverings can be found on the CDC’s website.  If you need to purchase materials for a face covering, you may do so and be reimbursed by the university from lab or departmental sources that are typically used for safety and personal protective equipment.

Planning for summer research activities

We do not yet have an estimate for when campus will reopen for research activities.  This decision will be made at the university level, based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to orders and guidelines from the federal, state and local governments.

  • Collaborating visitor policy update:
    • OVPR is not approving any new requests for collaborating visitors who wish to arrive before the end of May.
    • Visits to campus already approved for arrival while research is restricted to remote operations need to be postponed.
  • Summer research involving undergraduate and non-CMU students:
    • Departments and faculty should delay committing to any on-campus summer research projects for undergraduate students or students from outside of CMU until it is clear when on-campus research will resume. 
    • Following the recent communication about transitioning summer course offerings to remote delivery, colleges are exploring innovative ways to expand remote research opportunities and course-based experiential learning projects for CMU undergraduate and master student engagement this summer. Additional information will be forthcoming.

COVID-19 related research, design and manufacturing initiatives

  • Research opportunities:
  • Compliance reminders:
    • All compliance requirements related to IRB, IP and similar policies are still in effect and must be followed accordingly.
    • The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC) will be prioritizing COVID-19 related research opportunities for expedited review as much as possible. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff addresses these new priorities while continuing to make progress on existing programs and projects.
  • Current COVID-19 design, prototyping and manufacturing-related initiatives:

Through conversations with local healthcare providers and community support groups,  including critical leadership and initiative from Professor Adam Feinberg, CMU faculty and leadership are actively working on several specific projects and initiatives that can benefit from CMU design, manufacturing and maker capabilities and expertise.  Some of those include:

    1. Face shield design, fabrication and distribution – Professor Rebecca Taylor is guiding CMU efforts to produce face shields for small, regional service providers with a need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
    2. Ventilator component design and fabrication support – Professors Keith Cook, Victoria Webster-Wood, Howie Choset, Will Kaigler, Mike Formica,  and others are collaborating with pulmonology groups in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Allegheny Health Network (AHN) to prototype and fabricate devices for reducing the need for ventilators and/or expanding ventilator capacity when there is a shortage of commercial systems.
    3. Swab design and manufacturing – Professor Burak Ozdoganlar is leading CMU’s participation in a group formed to design and manufacture nasal swabs needed for COVID-19 test kits in Pittsburgh’s two leading hospital systems.
    4.  Protective shields and systems for intubation procedures – Professor Ozdoganlar is also leading an effort to optimize the design of rigid enclosures used to protect clinicians from exposure to the coronavirus during intubation procedures. 

Requested information and feedback from the research community

OVPR is asking for your input on the following:

  • Impact on current research funding:
    • If funding of your current research awards and/or a pending project with a sponsor has been impacted (i.e., stop work orders, reductions in funding levels, etc.) please email details to your Associate Dean for Research with CC to as the university is continuing to assess all of the impacts of COVID-19 on our community.
  • Share your stories:
    • We want to hear about how you are continuing your research in these unprecedented times. If you have developed an innovative approach or made a new discovery while doing remote research, we want to help amplify your story. Please email:
    • If you are working on research to better understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to make your work more well-known, please share your story with us by emailing:

Again, I greatly appreciate all that you are doing. Your tireless efforts to continue to do research with impact during this time of crisis are helping our families and our communities, in the Pittsburgh area and around the globe.



J. Michael McQuade, PhD.
Vice President for Research
Carnegie Mellon University