Research laboratories

Questions with an asterisk (*) are new or recently updated.

Are research laboratories closing?

Yes. Activities for faculty, staff and students (undergraduate and graduate) in all research laboratories will be suspended from 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, until further notice from the Vice-President (Research). Research laboratories also include facilities such as studios and spaces for creative activities.

What if I need to access a lab to feed animals, water plants or shut down computer systems/lab equipment?

Memorial’s campuses are not closed. Until such time as this may occur, spaces will be accessible for critical activities. With regard to care for animals, please consult with Dr. Jennifer Keyte, university veterinarian and director of Animal Care Services via email at jkeyte@mun.ca.

How are the CREAIT Network labs affected by the closure?

All CREAIT Network labs are closed until further notice from the Vice-President (Research). All staff with Memorial’s Strategic Institutional Research Initiatives (SIRI) unit and the CREAIT labs will be working remotely during this period and will be available for any questions related to your research.

I am a graduate student who conducts research in Memorial’s labs. How am I affected?

All graduate students in research-intensive (e.g., thesis-based programs) should work from home. Meetings with supervisors should be carried out using remote methods.

Does the closure of research laboratories mean graduate students do not need to continue their research activities?

No. The closure of research laboratories means physical labs are closed to maintain social distancing. Graduate students in research-intensive programs should continue their work as much as they can from their ‘home’ or place of residence. It may be that certain graduate students do move to their home (if it is on the Island), but they are expected to continue their research as much as they can and continue meetings using remote methods with their supervisors. Those meetings should be arranged to discuss how they will need to adapt their research.

What happens to time-sensitive research that’s ongoing in my lab?

Research laboratories are closed. If time sensitive research activities are ongoing, they need to be concluded as soon as possible (at most within a week from Wednesday, March 18). No one, including graduate students, should be compelled to work in a lab. Although Memorial’s campuses currently remain open for critical operations, this does not mean researchers should carry on with their research activities as business as usual, thus putting staff and students at risk.

*Is there way I can receive an exemption to the current suspension of on-campus research and scholarly activities in labs?

Memorial has received a small number of requests by researchers for exemptions in order to continue specific on-campus research and scholarly activities and in-person interaction with research participants. The suspension of on-campus research and scholarly activities and of in-person interaction with research participants remains in effect. However, Memorial will consider requests for exemptions from deans (in the case of the St. John’s Campus and the Grenfell Campus) or school heads (in the case of the Marine Institute) on behalf of researchers, for on-campus research and scholarly activities that are related to:

(1) critical COVID-19 research;
(2) essential clinical studies; or
(3) critical continuity activities related to research and scholarly activities that cannot be paused for a number of months.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)
. Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*What rules apply to these exemptions?

Any exemption request must maintain relevant social distance or room cleaning requirements and must include safety plans to ensure:

(1) at least two members of a research group are present during on-campus research or scholarly activities; or
(2) if a researcher must work alone that there is a documented process in place, that has been shared with anyone who will be working alone, to report and/or monitor their presence and safety on-campus.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*How do I request an exemption?

Request for exemptions to the suspension of on-campus research and scholarly activities must be made by the relevant dean (in the case of St. John’s Campus or Grenfell Campus) or the school head (in the case of the Marine Institute) by emailing research.exemptions@mun.ca, with “EXEMPTION " as the subject line of your email. This single point email will be used for all applications and approvals for exemptions will be made at vice-president level and involve both the vice-president (research) and the applicable vice-president of the Grenfell Campus or the Marine Institute (or their delegate).

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*Is there specific information I should include in my request for an exemption?

In your email request, please provide providing the following information:

1. Location of the research or scholarly activity (building, room number, academic unit);
2. Name, email address and telephone number for the principal investigator;
3. Names, email addresses, and telephone numbers for individuals to be authorized to enter the rooms under the exemption;
4. Description of the research or scholarly activity to be undertaken in the lab (maximum one page);
5. Other resources required (e.g. Technical Services, Animal Care Services, CREAIT, departmental or faculty staff, etc.);
6. Duration and frequency of the required room access (specify dates and times);
7. Description of the safety plan (maximum 1/2 page);
8. Identify any critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that would be required in carrying out the research or scholarly activities and confirm whether this is available to the researchers. Note that some PPE at Memorial is being shifted to support health care operations at this time.
9. Discussion of why the access is essential or critical (maximum 1/2 page);
10. Discussion of the negative impact on research or scholarly activity program if an exemption is not granted (maximum 1/2 page). 

In view of the rapidly changing circumstances, requests should made as soon as possible.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research). Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*What is the approval process for exemptions?

Exemption approvals will be sent to the requesting dean or school heads through the appropriate vice-president indicating whether there are any conditions associated with any approval. In the case of requests related to activities on the Grenfell Campus or the Marine Institute, the approval of the respective campus vice-president (or their delegate) and the vice-president (research) will be required.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*What happens if I am granted an exemption?

Note that no on-campus research or scholarly activity is permitted to be undertaken at any campus before receipt of a letter from my office granting an exemption and outlining any conditions associated with the exemption. A copy of the approval letter must be kept in the room(s) approved for the on-campus research and scholarly activity and provided upon request by officials of Memorial University (e.g. Facilities Management staff with responsibilities in the building, Campus Enforcement and Patrol).

Staff or students must not be compelled to undertake on-campus research or scholarly activities if an exemption is granted. The requesting deans and campus vice-presidents are expected to maintain contact with any individuals working under the exemption to ensure that this requirement is enforced along with ensuring compliance with any conditions associated with the exemption approval.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*I am a dean or school head. What’s my role after an exemption is made?

Deans and school heads who make requests are expected to monitor any on-campus research and scholarly activities that are exempted as a result of their requests. They must immediately suspend such activities if the exemption conditions are not being met or if they have concerns about the health and safety of researchers or other staff who may be working in the same building or elsewhere on campus, or of members of the general public.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*What other information should I be aware of?

Memorial and the Office of the Vice-President (Research), jointly with campus vice-presidents as applicable, retain the right to revoke any permission given under this process, or to change conditions associated with any exemption, as dictated by the evolving internal and external circumstances related to COVID-19.

To learn more, please read the March 27 update from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)Updated 3:08 p.m., March 27

*I see that on April 16 Memorial announced it was enacting further measures related to buildings access. How does this affect my lab or research space?

Memorial is enacting further measures related to buildings access on all our campuses to enhance physical distancing and keep our community safe. Read full message from the president and provost on April 16 here. Also, a checklist has also been developed to assist in ensuring laboratory/research space hazards are controlled while the spaces are unoccupied. See here for more information for laboratory and research space owners. Updated 6:11 p.m., April 17.

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