Guidelines for conducting research during a pandemic

The recent COVID-19 global pandemic is calling on researchers everywhere to rethink how research is conducted. As UCI moves into the next phase of its response the Department of Earth System Science will be reviewing plans to safety restart laboratory research. The campus is currently moving into stage two of reopening, during this stage the focus is on transitioning those who are unable to conduct research away from campus back to campus in a controlled manner. If researchers are able to continue to work remotely, they must continue to do so for the time being in order to minimize traffic in the buildings.

Guiding principles

UCI and the Department of Earth System Science are committed to continuing research while maintaining a safe environment for faculty, staff and students to work. Extensive planning has taken place to ensure measures are taken for a safe return to campus. Returning to work on campus is voluntary. Those that do not feel comfortable returning to campus at this time may seek alternate work accommodations from their faculty mentor and/or the department. Every effort will be made to find alternate accommodations so research progress can continue to be made. For those who wish to resume research on campus, commitment to safety protocols is required. Detailed safety plans are to be submitted by each research group and include an individual commitment from every person returning to campus.

The Office of Research has reorganized the General Points of Consideration to make it easier to develop transition plans. Plan Owners should follow the general steps below:

Components of Plan

  • Total number of researchers in lab and plans for how work will be staggered to allow for approximately 30% of personnel on campus at any given time
  • Diagram of research space with spatial dimensions, with clear markers for spatial separation
  • SOP for sanitizing and rules for wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Agreement to abide by the School of Physical Sciences safety protocol

Submission guidelines

Please fill out the campus-required form: Phase 2 Research Assessment Form (you can submit this to and it will move forward to the Dean's office)

Please fill out the ESS-required form: PI Phase 2 COVID-19 Research Plan

Review process, standards, and accountability

Plans will be reviewed by the Safety Committee. Labs need to wait for final approval before moving forward with any restarting plans. We understand that time is of the essence and will turn requests around as quickly as possible. Be sure to have this checklist filled out and available in your area:  Phase 2 Research Activities Checklist

It is incumbent upon all department members to maintain the highest safety standards and follow all the protocols as approved. Anyone feeling unwell should stay home and report their symptoms to their supervisor. Hand washing, mask wearing, and physical distancing must be adhered to at all times on campus. Permission to conduct research during this time is a privilege that can be revoked by the school or campus. As a community we must be vigilant in upholding these standards so we may continue to conduct research during this time.

Positive COVID-19 diagnosis protocol

  1. Report the illness to HR:
  2. Notify personnel who have had exposure to the virus to self-quarantine.
  3. Notify the Department Chair (who will consult on lab ramp down procedures) and Physical Sciences Stores(who will contact an outside vendor to sanitize the lab).
  4. Place "no entry" sign on lab doors.


The Department is working to secure an initial supply of disposable face masks, gloves, and isopropanol alcohol that will be distributed to labs in advance of resuming research on campus.

Floor plans can be accessed here.

UCI Office of Research Guidelines on Research Ramp-up

Orange County Department of Health Order and Strong Recommendations dated 5/23/20

EH&S resources:

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The Department of Earth System Science acknowledges our presence on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Acjachemen and Tongva peoples, who still hold strong cultural, spiritual and physical ties to this region.