Covid-19 Questions Answered for WMU Research Community

Specific Questions That Effect the Researchers

FAQs for Sponsored Program Expenses

FAQs for Internally Funded Student Appointment and Internal Grants - Hiring Freeze Student Exception Form

Hiring Freeze Exception Processes for Research

FAQs for Faculty Voluntary Early Retirement Plan (VERP)

FAQs for Remote Research Work?

FAQs for Proposal Submissions and Extensions

FAQs for Travel and Conferences

FAQs for Research Operation including remote work, human subjects and labs

FAQs for Resources for Kids

FAQs for WMU Library Access


Remote Research

Are there any new research resources for remote work?
MATLAB is now available for WMU students and faculty to install on their personal computers through June 30th.
This page has training material, support links, a link to download fully licensed mathworks products for home use by anyone with an email address.  You will need to create, if you do not already have one, a mathworks account using your email address and run through the installation process using that account.

Proposal Submissions, Extensions

Are the deadlines changing for internal WMU grants like the Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Excellence Award, Support for Faculty Scholars Award, and Technology Development fund?
Right now only the URE Award is extended till noon on March 30th to allow faculty more time to work with their students.  All deadlines are posted at InfoReady

Will my proposal still be submitted to the sponsor on time amid a COVID-19 outbreak?
At present, ORI is still operating under normal business operations and proposals are being submitted by the ORI according to our proposal submission procedure. ORI has taken steps to ensure proposals will be submitted amid the COVID-19 situation by preparing for staff to work remotely if necessary.

Will I be able to get an extension on a proposal deadline in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak?
Most sponsors do not accept late proposals, and if they grant extensions, they do so on a case-by-case basis. Faculty who are working on a proposal now should therefore plan on submitting by the sponsor’s stated deadline. If you personally experience impacts from COVID-19, reviewing the sponsor's standard exception policies may be warranted. See guidance from specific sponsors above.

Travel and Conferences

Link to WMU Essential Travel Guidelines and Waiver process web page. PDF of Essential Travel Guidelines.

I was planning to visit a lab to conduct work/I was planning to meet with a collaborator/I was planning to attend a conference, but cannot because of travel restrictions relating to COVID-19. What should I do? 
Effective immediately, all non-essential travel, whether domestic or international is suspended by the University. Please see WMU’s COVID-19 webpage for the most recent information related to travel restrictions.

I had planned travel for a conference/meeting related to my grant, but the conference/meeting was cancelled due to precautions regarding COVID-19. May I still charge the travel-related costs to the grant?
To date, there is no federal guidance relating to charges to awards for non-refundable travel, and related expenses due to the coronavirus. Please continue to follow the University Travel Expense Policy and general cost principles described in the Uniform Guidance. Note: most major airline carriers are waiving fees associated with rescheduling flights and allowing cancellations with future re-booking.    

May 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. Note: most standard travel insurance does not cover cancellation in those cases where you have a change in plans unless you have purchased a much more expensive “premium” travel insurance policy.

I had an accepted conference presentation and the conference has been cancelled or I am unable to attend due to travel restrictions. Can I still add this information to my CV? 
Yes, your work was peer reviewed and accepted. The APA has guidance on how to properly cite for various situations like this.

Will the Faculty Research Travel Fund—FRTF cover a teleconferencing conference's registration fee?
Yes, if a traditional in-person conference changes format to a teleconferencing conference due to COVID-19 concerns, the registration cost and required fees are eligible for FRTF reimbursement.  FRTF will not cover transportation, lodging or per diem for a teleconference. Other FRTF guidelines still apply.

Research Operations

Detailed Answers on Sponsored Program Expenses - hiring grad student or staff, purchase equipment, cost share.

Detailed Answers on FAQs for Internally Funded Student Appointment and Internal Grants - Hiring Freeze Student Exception Form   -   Hiring Freeze Exception Processes for Research

In the budget brief shared with the university community, there was mention of ‘accelerated external grant drawdowns’ as a mechanism to preserve cash. What does this mean for our grants? 
When you have a grant, for most of them, it is termed cost reimbursable.  That means we incur the cost of the student, salary, fringe, supplies, equipment and then send a bill to the sponsor (electronically for most Federal agencies) that they then pay. We pay these expenses from University funds and then bill the sponsors to reimburse the University. To keep cash flow going we are now sending those "bills" in on a more frequent basis. That means we get reimbursed faster and also we collect our F and A if allowed

I’m a PI working remotely from home during self-isolation. Can my effort still be charged to the grant?
In general, yes, provided you remain engaged in your project. Current NIH and NSF prior approval requirements regarding disengagement and effort reductions remain in effect.

I am a PI/researcher and I am required to work from home as a result of the coronavirus. Would I be able to charge supplies relating to telework (i.e., such as a 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 in order to be set up to work from home. 

I’m experiencing delays in my research (e.g delayed subject recruitment, delays due to travel issues) due to impacts of COVID-19 and it is affecting the progress of my grant. What should I do?
For programmatic issues affecting your study, we strongly recommend you speak with your agency Program Official 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 ORI research officer and/or restricted fund accountant.

May I still interact with my research subjects?  
IRB does not require you to postpone or cancel study visits, but ask that you consider minimizing in-person interactions. See IRB suggestions revising your protocol to hold your study visits remotely. See detailed answer.

Can I use WebEx for humans subjects interactions?  Is it HIPAA secure? 
The Webex instance/subscription at WMU meets HIPPA requirements, a Business Associate Agreement has been signed which is critical in meeting compliance. The technology is in place for compliance, but how WebXx is used is also part of compliance. See more details.

What if no one can come to my laboratory for an extended period of time or I need to prepare for it not to be used for a period of time? 
WMU Office of Research and Innovation and Environmental Health & Safety is providing Lab Hibernation Guidance (with thanks to the University of Minnesota) to help you plan for a possible reduction in availability to your lab. These are guidelines to help you think of critical issues to plan for. While WMU safety staff will not be monitoring the labs aside from standard public safety, having these instructions available on the door of a lab that is temporarily unoccupied for significant time can be helpful. If you have any questions please contact EHS, the EHS office continues to provide on-site support. 

Resources for Kids

Do you have any research based resources for kids?
You can find some really fun science based coloring resources with this Coronavirus page or at the Protein Data Bank.  The Office of Research and Innovation is holding a coloring contest for our team and their families. Its one way to expose kids to science in a fun way and a productive activity.

Library Access

How can I access WMU Libraries for help with my research about datasets, getting papers, other questions now that they are closed?
The WMU libraries offer may services you can still access, including our librarians.  

  • Use Library Search to access millions of online resources anytime, anywhere.
  • Request chapters or articles from physical items through Interlibrary Loan.
  • Make a virtual appointment to meet with a librarian for a research consultation. Virtual sessions are scheduled in Webex or other online conferencing websites.
  • Contact us with questions—we are available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
    • Chat
    • Email
    • Call Waldo Library: (269)387-5059

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