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Faculty Research Statement

While Governor Wolfe’s stay-at-home order designates scientific research as an essential activity, Swarthmore college must balance this with the need to protect public health and safety.  Following the examples of some of the most renowned research institutions in the country, faculty research activities on campus will be limited to personnel approved to perform essential activities, pursuant to PIs’ submission of a COVID-19 On-Campus Research Continuity Request. Final approval of ongoing activities rests with the Provost, in consultation with research support staff and the Division Chairs.

Research laboratories may be operational for critical maintenance procedures that require regular attention in order to maintain long-term laboratory viability. For example, cell, plant, or animal colony maintenance, shared computational equipment maintenance, and maintenance of equipment that requires gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators may be performed. 

Human Subjects Research protocols may be modified, when possible, to allow for remote research activities.   If you have questions about making such modifications to IRB approved protocols, please contact the Research Compliance Manager, Jena Fioravanti at  If modifications to current grant-supported projects are needed, please be in contact with your program officer, and the Office of Sponsored Programs at  The College’s administrative offices remain open to support research.  As most staff have transitioned to working remotely, only academic and administrative personnel whose jobs require them to be on campus are being asked to commute. 

The following principles underlie the designation of activities currently considered essential:

  • long-term experiments and activities that would generate significant data 
  • and financial loss if not completed
  • human subjects research that holds the potential for direct benefit to the subject (e.g., investigational drug, devices, or surgical procedures) and the interaction is required to deliver that potential direct benefit
  • work to maintain critical samples, animal populations, plant populations, tissue cultures, bacteria, archaea, and other living organisms
  • activity that, if discontinued, would pose a safety hazard
  • activity to maintain critical equipment in facilities and labs
  • COVID-19 related activity that has a timeline for deployment that could 
  • address the current crisis

Invalid justifications of essential activities include:

  • It will take time and/or cause inconvenience to get the lab/protocol up and running again
  • Experimental results are needed for a paper submission or another deadline