Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
May 29, 2020

SCS Research Project On Campus Restart Process


On campus research re-engagement is beginning with a very small number of pilot projects that have been already notified.

  • It is still the case that any research that CAN be done off campus MUST be done off campus.
  • If you believe your project has work that must be done on campus, please follow the steps below, including filling out the form template, which must then be approved. See "PROCESS" below.
  • Useful Links:  COVID-19 information for researchers; general CMU on-site minimum requirements; downloadable research plan template

More Information

By now you will have read last week’s email from Michael McQuade / OVPR regarding the “Strategy to return research activity in CMU Pittsburgh facilities.”   I refer you to that email and the new web page for important information and background.  I’m writing about the process for requesting research on campus in SCS.

Michael’s note mentions a first phase that will include a “small set of research activities from among those that must be done in a CMU facility and which represent a variety of use cases. These pilots will allow us to test and improve our processes and safety requirements and our ability to adhere to them.”  Those projects have been notified and we anticipate that those projects’ plans will be approved and begin on campus work soon.

SCS Process for requesting research on campus

As that pilot phase begins and progresses, we anticipate requests from additional projects that require presence on campus for research.  Projects that believe they must be on campus (quoting again): “must submit a plan using the template found on the COVID researcher resources site, describing the research activity it is proposing to do on campus, why it can’t be done remotely and how the activity will be conducted in a manner that will meet safety requirements required by the university, as well as by those specific to the needs of the project.”

As you know we have formed an SCS Research Continuity Team, which includes a Research Liaison from each department.

If you want to submit a project for on campus research please:

  1. The PI (or a designee) should send to me and to your department’s Research Liaison a very brief “heads up” note to say you intend to submit a plan (this will help us keep track).
  2. Complete a draft of the template; also discuss your plans with those coordinating any interacting plans, such as non-SCS facilities and FMCS.  Your Research Liaison and I are available to help.
  3. Once the draft is complete, send it to me and your Research Liaison, and CC your department head.
  4. From there, we will work with you on the approval review process.

As to approval, of course, we all want our return to be as rapid as possible, but it must also be as safe as possible.  We believe the best way to learn and improve as quickly as possible is the careful and gradual approach we have detailed. The SCS Research Continuity Team will work to maintain and prioritize the queue and with the dean to approve the priorities and timing.  We will be in touch for a discussion, any feedback, and -- once your plan is finalized -- schedule a review (initially with the dean, the VPR, and university health and safety experts).  We hope to begin these reviews at the college level in the next few weeks (subject to university guidance and health conditions) and encourage you to begin considering your plans for research that must be done on campus.

It’s important to emphasize that return will be phased, and we do not yet know the rate at which projects may return.  This will be based on our initial experiences and on the then-current health and campus situation as well as the return of non-research activities. Also, please recognize that this process is new and there will be adjustments.  Your patience and suggestions are appreciated, as always.  Of course, the Research Liaisons and I would be happy to try to answer any questions.  Finally, another reminder that, while we recognize the desire to be on campus for other reasons, at this time any research that CAN be done off campus MUST be done off campus, and, even for those on campus, we require projects to minimize their on campus time for ongoing reasons of health and safety.

Thanks again for your work to continue our research during these challenging times.

Thanks also to the Research Liaisons for their perspective, advice, and work to coordinate.