COVID-19 Undergraduate Research Update

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By Dr. David P. Norton, Vice President for Research, University of Florida

As we now look towards the end of summer and the beginning of the fall semester, the university will now begin considering requests from faculty to host, within their laboratories or other on-site facilities, undergraduate students who have an interest in research experience.  Since May 15, 2020, the University of Florida has been implementing a Research Resumption Plan that is successfully returning faculty, staff and graduate students to their on-site research activities.  The process for Undergraduate Research Resumption will be very similar to that used to date for faculty, staff, and graduate students seeking to return to on-site research activities.

The specific procedure will be as follows:

  1. UF faculty members who oversee on-campus laboratories or other on-site activities are the gatekeepers for vetting undergraduate students interested in participating in research and for accepting them into research programs.
  2. To request approval to bring undergraduates into on-site research facilities:
    • Faculty members will submit undergraduate names, UFIDs and contact information through the Research Activity Request Portal.
    • As part of the submission, the faculty member will describe the safety protocols that will be shared with the students as part their training.
    • Upon approval by the chair, dean and VPR, undergraduates will be cleared to come into research programs through the HR Screen Test Protect process, just as staff, faculty and graduate students have been.
  3. UF faculty are responsible for instructing undergraduates about new safety protocols and the research culture in the COVID-19 context, including proper social distancing and mask wearing according to the UF Research Resumption Plan and the local laboratory/on-site environment.
  4. The overall restrictions for research activities remains at Stage 3 within the Research Resumption Plan as described in the attachment and described at https://research.ufl.edu/covid-19-updates.html .
  5. All undergraduate students will be reviewed for participation in research in the same manner, whether the student is paid, unpaid, fulfilling scholarship requirements or taking course credit.

Questions regarding the process for submitted requests through the portal should be directed to your department chair or college associate dean for research.  Questions about the overall process can be directed to Dr. Rob Ferl (robferl@ufl.edu), Assistant Vice President for Research.  Student questions about returning to research should be directed to the Center for Undergraduate Research (cur@aa.ufl.edu).