Statement on research at Memorial from Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research)
Please note: a new process, announced on May 14 by Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), supersedes the approach noted below.
As regularly reported to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in its Strategic Plan submission, research, creative and scholarly activity are collectively one of Memorial’s strategic issues. These activities are also fundamental to the nature of a university and constitute, along with teaching, the critical activities of our faculty members that form the basis for their academic careers. In addition, these activities are core to the academic programs of our research graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research staff. In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Memorial is committed to supporting our researchers in continuing their research, albeit in alternative forms as required by the challenging circumstances that our community faces.
Effective March 17, and to assist with the efforts in the community to achieve effective social distancing, Memorial suspended activities in research labs across our campuses, including the CREAIT labs, and researchers have been requested to carry out their ongoing research from home. All fieldwork has also been suspended immediately and all activities that would involve face-to-face interactions (e.g. surveys or focus groups with research participants) will be deferred or carried out remotely using a technology solution that allows researchers and participants to be involved from their home.
It is understood that for certain researchers, the suspension of laboratory access or fieldwork will necessitate some significant adjustment to near-term research plans until operations can return to normal. For many researchers whose research does not involve access to laboratories or fieldwork, it is feasible for their research activities to continue as normal through an extended period when physical access to our campuses may not be practical or advisable. While not ideal, the critical research, creative and scholarly activity mission of Memorial, if properly supported, can continue to be productive. The Office of the Vice-President (Research) – and units responsible for research administration at our university -- is committed to providing this support.
Graduate students and supervisors should begin discussions (using remote methods) about what research work they can do without interruption, what research work needs to be adjusted in the short term, and contingency plans for their thesis-related research if changes become necessary.
Research groups, including graduate students and their supervisors, have moved to holding meetings using remote methods. Continuation of existing research studies requiring the support of Animal Care Services is being considered on a case-by-case basis and new research protocols will not be considered until university operations return to normal.
Research Grant and Contract Services (RGCS), Strategic Institutional Research Initiatives (SIRI), the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office (TTCO), the Marine Institute’s Office of Research and Development and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at Grenfell Campus have moved to remote operations and will be available to fully serve Memorial’s research community. Technical Services is evaluating the timelines for project commitments and considering whether workflow may be maintained to some degree while respecting the requirement for social distancing among staff. The extent to which these critical on-campus functions can be maintained is subject to regular review and adjustment based on the requirements, advice and best-practice guidance from experts dealing with the pandemic.
Memorial remains committed to supporting the fulfillment of the critical research mission of the university while ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and research partners.
A series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for researchers are now available on the university’s COVID-19 resource page. I encourage you to please visit the site and check back for updates. You can access those FAQs here: https://www.mun.ca/covid19/researchers/.
Dr. Neil Bose
March 19, 2020