RESEARCH FAQs

The Office of Research, Economic Engagement and Outreach has developed measures to minimize potential disruptions to research activities caused by COVID-19. All research personnel (faculty, staff, students) should ramp down on-site or in-person activities and facilities and plan to work remotely.

The FAQs below contain information as it relates to the conduct of research, research operations and sponsored programs.

What services will be available from the research office during this period?
All SVPR,EE&O offices will be operating remotely. The research office will handle new proposal submissions and other sponsored program activities. Continue to contact your GCA for most matters. New and updated communications will be sent via email and posted on the website.

Proposal Deadlines

Who will be supporting proposal submissions?
Please be assured that GCAs are able to access all UNH and sponsor systems whether working in the Service Building or remotely. Proposals will continue to be submitted by your SPA-GCA. 

Our experience is that federal agencies are flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances beyond our control. However, if agencies are officially closed, proposals will most likely remain in a queue, pending resumption of agency operations — as has been the case during federal budget-related shutdowns.

Your GCA may be reached via email or phone. Your GCA will return your call or email as soon as possible.

Awards will be set up, modifications processed and subawards will be issued.

I am quarantined, self-isolated, or caring for a sick family member and unable to submit my proposal by the stated deadline. May I request an extension?
Most federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, do not grant prior approval for late submissions; however, there are existing policies that address extenuating circumstances. Find current NIH and NSF guidance. We strongly encourage you to discuss your specific situation with both your agency program official and your SPA GCA.

What if I have to stay home for an undetermined amount of time, and there is a proposal deadline during this period? Will anyone in Sponsored Programs or Research Development be available to assist me with my submission?
Principal investigators will be able to submit proposals with the assistance of Sponsored Programs. Your assigned GCA will be working and available to assist you. Should your GCA become ill, please contact the back-up GCA.

If you require assistance from Research Development, please contact Mark Milutinovich at mark.milutinovich@unh.edu

I am considering submitting a conference or travel proposal to NSF for a future meeting. The site of the meeting has not yet been selected; should I take into account COVID-19 in conference planning and site selection?
Travel logistics, accessibility, and health and safety considerations of the participants should always be a foremost consideration in any conference proposal. Since the COVID-19 threat is still evolving, it is important to consider flexibility and alternative plans in a proposal to support travel or a conference. For foreign travel, you should consult the State Department Travel Advisories website.

Can Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supply or equipment costs be charged to sponsored awards?

A) Standard PPE
PPE and related equipment and supplies budgeted to be purchased for a sponsored project PRIOR to COVID-19 can continue to be direct charged to a grant during or after COVID-19.

B) Additional PPE – Equipment required to re-open lab
PPE and related equipment and supplies can be charged to sponsored awards if needed to conform with research reopening requirements and such costs are being allocated to all awards benefiting from the activity (e.g., all sponsored projects and all non-sponsored activities with similar needs are required to cover the cost of such items.) For example, if an experiment requires two individuals to stand within 6 feet of each other, any PPE needed to conduct that experiment would be an appropriate charge to the sponsored project during the re-opening phase even if no PPE for that experiment was considered necessary prior to COVID-19. Considerations for allocating these costs should include, the salary/effort of the project(s) the individuals are being charged to, or a more equitable allocation methodology. On-going maintenance or cleaning costs to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic should not be charged to sponsored awards.

C) Additional PPE – Beyond standard equipment but not required to re-open lab
Items not required for re-opening, (e.g., PPE acquired for the personal preference of the individuals involved) cannot be purchased on sponsored funds.

 

If PPE or other medical supplies purchased with sponsored funding was donated to first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic, can we purchase new supplies using sponsored funds?
NIH has indicated that if project-purchased PPE (or other lab supplies) were donated during the pandemic for clinical or first responder use, then the award may re-purchase PPE and charge those costs to the grant. Administrative supplements may be available if rebudgeting is inadequate to replace the donated PPE. Most other agencies require agency-prior approval to donate PPE; thus, any PPE donated should either be replaced (using non-sponsored fund sources) or the PI should request agency prior/retroactive approval. If approval is received, the replacement PPE can be charged to the award.  Alternatively, non-sponsored funds can be used to purchase replacement PPE or supplies.

 

Can travel cancellation expenses and fees caused by the COVID-19 pandemic be charged to sponsored awards
As of 6/19 with the release of OMB memo M-20-26, our interpretation is that cancellation expenses and fees are no longer allowed to be charged to federal awards.

 

[Expired: M-20-26 did not extend this flexibility]] When a conference or event is cancelled, what costs are allowable on a sponsored award?
As of 6/19 with the release of OMB memo M-20-26, our interpretation is that costs associated with cancelled events are no longer an allowable charge on federal awards.

 

 What if I have a credit for airfare on an award that’s ending in a few months or the credit is due to expire soon?  
The charge can remain on the originally charged sponsored award if the travel was related to the period of March 19th-June 18th

 

Can name change fees for airfare be charged to a sponsored award?Airfare credits should be used for the award on which the expense was originally incurred. However, we recognize that in some cases, the original traveler may not be able to use that ticket.  In that situation, any of the following are acceptable alternatives:

  • If the travel originally planned can be completed by someone else working on the project, a change name fee can be charged to the sponsored award if the originally planned travel was related to the period of March 19th-June 18th. 
  • If the award is still open and the ticket can be used on another award or other university activity, move the ticket cost to the award or other funding source but charge the name change fee to the original award
  • If the award ends and the ticket is not used, leave the charges on the award
  • If the award ends and has incurred the ticket cost and the ticket can be used on another grant or university activity, charge the name change fee to the award or other activity utilizing the ticket

 

A conference has been cancelled, but I have nonrefundable travel and hotel costs. Can these be charged to my grant? 
The cancellation fees on grant-related activities can be charged to sponsored funds if the travel was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. Otherwise, expenses should be charged to non-sponsored funds. Authorized approvers must ensure any change or cancellation fees charged to sponsored funds are reasonable and allowable. Travelers should retain documentation of their cancellation request with the vendors. If a traveler has booked travel to a non-restricted country but the traveler elects to cancel their trip due to individual safety concerns, these charges cannot be charged to sponsored funds.

 

Can I charge trip cancellation insurance to my grant?
Trip cancellation insurance is typically unallowable on grants. However, we are monitoring any additional guidance the federal government may issue related to travel. If you need to travel in the coming months to conduct business for a sponsored project and you want to purchase trip cancellation insurance, you may reach out to your assigned SPA Financial Administrator to request prior approval from the sponsor to charge this cost to the grant.

Please refer to additional guidance here

 

Can we continue to charge researchers and lab personnel to sponsored projects during the COVID-19 crisis?
Yes. Most agencies and sponsors defer to institutional policy regarding compensating personnel during extraordinary and extenuating events. Current UNH Policy and Guidance allows for personnel to continue to be charged to sponsored projects regardless of whether they are contributing to the progress of a sponsored award until April 17th without using accrued leave.

As you are all aware, the situation is developing rapidly and changing quickly. We hope all agencies grant these flexibilities. Regardless of what agencies may eventually implement, we will need for our units to document how their operations are being impacted by COVID-19. We will also need to ensure that salary charges are aligned with institutional and sponsor policy.

 

I am a PI, or co-PI, or full-time research staff, and home sick and can’t work on my project.  Can my salary still be charged to a grant?
Yes.  According to the university’s indirect cost rate agreement with the federal government, sick leave and other paid absences may be charged to the grant.

 

If my hourly student cannot return to campus and can work remotely, can the student be paid with grant funds?
In general, yes, provided the work they are doing is related and attributable to the grant being charged.

 

I am a graduate student. What about research assistant responsibilities?  Will I continue to be paid?
Research assistants will continue to be paid. We anticipate laboratory-based research to continue, although in a modified way, i.e., remotely.

 

I am a PI/researcher and I am required to work from home because of the coronavirus. Would I be able to charge supplies relating to telework (e.g., laptop, printer, office supplies, etc.) to my grant?
These types of expenses are considered administrative costs (indirect costs), and generally are not appropriate as a direct cost unless specifically approved by the sponsor. You may wish to talk with your supervisor about your needs to work from home.

 

Does NIH have any follow-up regarding the issue of whether graduate students and post-docs will be considered “foreign components” if they are working on grants outside of the U.S. because of travel restrictions resulting from the COVID public health emergency that have prevented them from coming to the U.S.?
NIH stated that the answer to this question is “no” and have posted a FAQ to this effect: NIH FAQ regarding “foreign components.”

My research will be impacted due to COVID-19. What should I do?Federal sponsors (including federal flow-down): Communicate delays in writing to your sponsor in accordance with 2 CFR 200.328(d)(1), and any agency or award-specific terms and conditions.

Work with your GCA to request prior approval if you anticipate a change in budget or program plans (e.g., need for additional funds, disengagement of key personnel for more than three months or 25% or more reduction in effort, change in scope, etc.) in accordance with 2 CFR 200.308(c). Note that some sponsors may have more stringent prior approval requirements.

As a prime sponsor, we may need to modify subaward agreements. Work with your GCA to prepare subaward modifications for federal contracts and/or other sponsored programs with strict deliverable due dates and schedules that may be impacted by closures, availability of personnel, materials or equipment, etc.

Keep track of charges impacted by COVID-19, such as cancelled travel and conference registration fees, salary costs for quarantined staff, etc., in the event sponsors provide future guidance that necessitates a change in funding source.

Non-federal sponsors: Please review the terms and conditions of the agreement and contact your GCA regarding notification process and content.

I am a PI on an NSF-funded conference or travel award, but the meeting has been canceled. Who do I contact regarding the impact to the NSF award?
You should contact the cognizant NSF program officer about this situation. In light of the public health threat, you may wish to consider alternate plans, such as providing or using options for virtual participation. In addition, NSF program officers will be open to rescheduling the conference or using the funds for a future meeting that is consistent with the original scope and objectives of the award.

 

I am involved with a conference or travel award for a meeting that is taking place in the coming weeks. Should I continue with plans for the meeting?
Reach out to the conference organizer or host as they are best equipped to understand the guidance at the location of the event. They may recommend having contingency plans if the event is ultimately cancelled or relocated, or they might be planning to provide options for virtual participation. We also suggest checking the State Department Travel Advisories website if the conference involves foreign travel.

 

What special planning should PI/PDs be doing?
Principal investigators and key research staff should discuss approaches now in the event that some personnel are unable to come to work.

The following checklist may be helpful:

  1. Identify emergency personnel and ensure they know what to do in the event of suspended operations
  2. Remind lab and field personnel of your research continuity plans
  3. Identify priorities in case of restricted access
  4. Ensure remote access to files, data, servers, etc.
  5. Prioritize experiments
  6. Plan for remote proposal submission
  7. Check travel restrictions before making travel plans.
  8. Familiarize yourself with laboratory closure guidelines on the EHS webpage: https://www.unh.edu/research/environmental-health-and-safety

 

What special planning might I be doing if my research involves human subject participation?
Researchers should move any face-to-face data collection activities involving human subjects to using technology or halt data collection if this is not feasible. 

If you delay any research interventions or data collection activities such that it requires a change to your IRB-approved protocol, or you decide to make other changes to your IRB-approved protocol due to precautions related to the coronavirus situation (such as changing interviews from in-person to via Zoom), please contact the IRB staff (Melissa McGee, Susan Jalbert, or Julie Simpson) with any questions about the changes or to request a modification (see https://www.unh.edu/research/human-subjects).

 

Will my sponsor provide for an extension to my award if the planned activities are disrupted by the COVID-19 public health threat?
Most federal awards are eligible for one-year grantee-approved no-cost extension and then further extensions as approved by the agency. If you foresee a need for an agency-approved extension, you should include that information in your annual report and discuss the need ahead of time with the cognizant agency program officer for your award.

If the sponsor is not a federal agency or federal agency flow-down, please consult the terms and conditions of the award.  If you have any questions, please contact your Grant and Contract Administrator for assistance.

 

I am experiencing delayed subject recruitment and/or cancellations of scheduled follow-up visits with my study participants and it is negatively affecting the programs of my grant.  What should I do?
For programmatic issues affecting your study, we strongly recommend you speak with your agency program officer or other sponsor contact. If any issues should persist, they may need to be reported in future progress reports, or you may need a No Cost Extension to complete your study. Please coordinate any such actions with your SPA GCA.

 

I use vertebrate animals as part of my research. Will they be taken care of if I am quarantined or the campus has curtailed operations? 
Yes, contact the facility managers where your animals are housed for specific details.  Plans are in place that will allow caretakers onto campus specifically for general husbandry and care. Please contact Dean Elder at dean.elder@unh.edu with questions.

 

I need access to on-campus animal facilities in order to continue uninterruptable research/care, will I be able to get into these facilities?
Yes, plans have been made with the UNH Police Department (UNHPD). If campus is closed, a list of essential personnel from these facilities has been provided to the UNHPD that will allow people to enter campus. If you are unsure whether you are on this list, please contact Dean Elder at dean.elder@unh.edu.

 

If I have to stay home for an undetermined period and I need access to Research Computing Center resources including servers, HPC clusters, and storage necessary to continue my research, will these services still be available?
We do not anticipate any issues with access to the Research Computing data center. RCC will remain fully operational throughout the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions or support needs you can email ops@sr.unh.edu which is list that expands to all of RCC.

 

In the event access to the campus is restricted, will the instrumentation in the University Instrumentation Center (UIC) be available for use?
The instrumentation at the UIC will not be available. Contact Shawn Banker (shawn.banker@unh.edu) with questions.

 

I have a biohazardous waste box in use in my laboratory. What do I do?
Seal the biowaste bags and the box as you would for shipment. Contact OEHS to request pick-up of the bioboxes.

 

Will EHS continue to make chemical deliveries?
Yes, but they will be handled on a case-by-case basis depending on staff availability. Chemical deliveries will not occur in the event UNH curtails operations. Contact Andy Glode with questions.

 

How do I request hazardous waste disposal from EHS?
All waste requests continue through UNHCEMS® via the Hazardous Waste Removal Request form: https://cems.unh.edu/unh/CEMS/RequestRemoval

 My financial conflict of interest requires management before my research project can go forward.  What happens next?
Research Integrity Services will continue conducting usual day-to-day operations working remotely. Contingency plans are in place to prevent research projects from stalling. Please contact Melissa McGee at Melissa.mcgee@unh.edu

 

I have a progress report due and my study is impacted by a COVID-19-related delay. Should I report this in my progress report?
Yes. If your study is impacted, refer to the sponsor’s requirements regarding where and how this should be included in your progress report. You may also confer with your GCA for additional guidance.

 

I have IRB/IACUC protocol submissions pending. Will they be reviewed?
Beginning March 18, 2020, UNH IRB and IACUC committee meetings will be conducted via Zoom.

 

What if I need to work in a remote location for my export-controlled project?
All Technology Controlled Plan (TCP) project work shall continue in the manner dictated in the TCP unless a modification is pre-approved by UNH Contracts and Export Controls. If specific challenges arise which generate a need to consider changes to the TCP, please contact Victor Sosa at victor.sosa@unh.edu

 

I have a protocol registered with the Institutional Biosafety Committee. Are there special requirements if I have to close my lab?
All infectious and potentially infectious materials must be secured during a lab closure. Ensure incubators are empty and disinfected, and stock materials are stored at the appropriate temperatures and locked. All surfaces must be disinfected with the IBC approved disinfectant prior to closing the lab.