Office of Research & Innovation
Welcome To the Office of Research & Innovation
May 25, 2020
Sent on behalf of Dr. Neil Emery, Vice President, Research & Innovation
This communication outlines the first phase of resuming research on Trent University campuses further to the Guiding Principles communicated on May 13. The following guidelines are subject to change as circumstances require it, further to directives from Peterborough Public Health, and/or the Ministry of Health at both the provincial and federal levels, or based on Trent’s assessment of the conditions required to ensure the campus community feels safe, informed and prepared.
The foremost principle is to move researchers back to campus and the field with attention to the health and safety of our communities, especially vulnerable individuals. Trent University research operations will take a phased approach to reopening. This directive will outline the phases for resuming research activities and provide guidance to researchers who will be expected to create specific plans for their activities and personnel.
In order to resume research in a prioritized and phased in manner, researchers must complete an Impact Assessment & Return to On-Campus Research Survey in order for administration to prioritize and plan for a safe return to campus. Faculty need to complete and submit the form at least a week prior to requesting access. This will provide Facilities Management enough time to ensure that required spaces have received the appropriate level of sanitization, or that needed protective measures and modifications can be implemented. Field research will be considered case-by-case based on the same over-arching principles and standards outlined in this directive.
(1) Health & Safety
As preparation for and resumption of research activities are commenced, protective measures will remain essential and will be communicated as approval is given to research requests. These will include:
- Self-screen before coming to campus for new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19. Do not come to work if ill or exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
- Maintain Physical distancing at all times. When unable to physical distance, you must wear a mask.
- All faculty and research personnel must complete the mandatory training module in order to access any research space.
- Maintain good personal hygiene, including proper hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette, avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands frequently. When moving about the campus, use hand sanitizer which will be available at all building entrances and at access points for each floor.
- Use appropriate non-medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect oneself and others from the spread of the virus while within the labs as well as within the research building.
- Clean/disinfect high-touch locations in shared spaces, including laboratories.
(2) Research Prioritization
The research activities deemed essential at present range from maintenance of equipment, to maintenance and/or propagation of living organisms, to active COVID-19 research. Increasing the level of research beyond essential activity depends on:
- Access to an adequate and reliable supply of appropriate PPE.
- Recalibration, certification or maintenance of certain equipment, particularly related to safety, before resumption of use.
- Access to necessary research supplies and materials, including ordering, shipping, receiving, and delivery to normal building delivery locations.
- Access to supplies of research animals, including necessary animal care activities.
- Urgency of carrying out the research project because of timing issues (Seasonal requirements, specific timelines for testing, funding issues, etc.).
- Contribution to graduate student completion, and in particular, the research of those students who are close to graduation.
In addition to potential supply chain issues, these activities are dependent on availability of staff at the department level. Therefore, the expansion of research activities beyond the present level must be connected to the presence of support staff on campus necessary to support research operations. Be aware that requests for use of shared resources such as libraries, computing facilities, or other campus facilities, will be assessed based on a variety of issues determined by the management of each facility and the need to meet new health & safety requirements, and may not be available.
(3) Mandatory Hygiene
Ability to continue with the phased reactivation of research will require each individual assume personal responsibility for health and hand hygiene and adhering to policies and protocols to protect themselves and others. Mandatory hygiene procedures for all research locations/personnel include:
- In cases where physical distancing is impossible mask must be worn.
- Hands must be washed upon entering the lab, after removing gloves and before leaving the lab.
- Cleaning of all door and cabinet handles, bench surfaces, keyboards, instrument control panels, etc. at the beginning and end of the day, or, if researchers are working in shifts, at the beginning and end of every shift.
- All shared equipment, including computer keyboards and tables should have user interface surfaces cleaned between every user.
- Other “high touch” items such as hand tools, micro-pipettes, faucet handles, chemical and spray bottles, chair backs and arm rests, pens and whiteboard markers should be cleaned before and after use.
- Cleaning should be with an approved disinfectant that is effective against COVID-19 in addition to the other biohazardous agents that may be in use. Pay attention to disinfectant contact times.
- Use appropriate PPE when using disinfectants/cleaning, including eye protection and chemical compatible impervious gloves.
(4) Laboratory-based research
Lab occupancy should be limited to those necessary to conduct the research. Physical distancing may require significant revision of normal procedures. This may require reducing laboratory occupancy by:
- Continuing remote (work from home) research activities such as literature review, data analysis, and writing.
- Establishing rotating shifts for lab members.
- Reducing the number of researchers present per laboratory to two (2) persons maximum per lab (370 sq.ft. and above) and one (1) person per small lab (190 sq.ft.). No more than one (1) person should be at a given laboratory bench, fume hood, biosafety cabinet, etc., at any one time. Additional regulations may be applied to particular shared laboratory spaces.
- Respect physical distancing when entering or exiting labs. For labs with more than one doorway: one-way flow through must be established, one entrance and one exit.
- Mandatory posting of schedules for the use of each laboratory space and/or piece of shared equipment, including names and contact information for all users. This includes facilities that are shared by multiple research groups.
PI’s are responsible for taking the Health and Safety for COVID-19 instructional module developed by Trent University. They must ensure their personnel also take the instructional module. PI’s must develop and implement appropriate management plans for their laboratories and for ensuring their personnel follow appropriate cleaning and disinfecting, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette. These plans must be submitted to and approved in writing by the Research Continuity group. Facilities Management may require review and approval of these plans. They may also implement access control and screening procedures for buildings and spaces within them.
All researchers should be cognizant of the fact that the infection and spread of COVID-19 in any facility on campus will likely require a return to essential activities only, or even greater restrictions depending on the location and circumstances.Therefore, orders for “perishable” materials, including animals, should be restricted to meeting the immediate needs of the research being conducted. Those who have frozen biological specimens should also consider the possible need to refreeze samples if it becomes necessary to reduce research activities again.
"Trent University is renowned for producing world-class interdisciplinary research findings. As the institution continues to excel in breakthrough academic inquiry, the annual ranking scores (Re$earch Infosource, Maclean’s University Rankings, HESA) acknowledge Trent’s high-caliber research output: Named #1 Undergraduate University in Ontario and #3 Undergraduate Research University in Canada. There is no question that in the quest for excellence Trent University’s brilliant learning environment provides an interactive locale focused on far reaching research and innovation. In this prime environment the progressive faculty and research-engaged students solve complex problems of global significance, bringing the university to recognition on national and international scales." - Neil Emery
Despite being a smaller university, Trent consistently produces high quality research. This ambition is frequently validated by external assessment and reviews, such as Macleans, Re$earch Infosource Inc. and Higher Education Strategy Associates(HESA). In their most recent national survey, HESA ranked Trent’s research 12th among 55 Canadian universities in impact for Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, noting that we have “by far the best publication record of any small‐ish school in the country across all disciplines.” In this index Trent ranked higher than 8 members of the U‐15 research universities in Canada. Trent's size has allowed our researchers to strategically select a small number of research areas in which, through interdisciplinary approaches drawing from the sciences, social sciences and humanities, has allowed the University to become recognized both nationally and internationally.
The Office of Research & Innovation supports the university community in its mission to "advance learning through the creative interaction of teaching and research of the highest quality." Responsible for achievement of Trent's research goals and objectives, the Office of Research & Innovation works in cooperation with other departments to implement the University's strategic research plan.
In particular, the Office of Research & Innovation works with local, regional, national and international members of the research community to promote and steward:
- Excellence in research (peer-reviewed, high caliber, with national and international recognition);
- A diversity of research (across a full range of scholarly disciplines at Trent, and of either a basic or applied nature);
- An emphasis on interdisciplinary research (with cooperation between a number of departments/programs/disciplines/centres/institutions);
- Responsible for provision of resources to researchers (infrastructure, staff, space etc.);
- The involvement of students in research
- Training of highly qualified personnel; and
- Open accountable research practices (honest, ethical and open to public scrutiny)