Tom Piechota, Vice President for Research

Tom Piechota, Vice President for Research


Dear Campus Community,

I want to provide guidance for researchers as a follow up to President Struppa’s announcement that Chapman will be fully remote for all non-essential personnel starting March 19th. Thank you for what you have done over the past weeks in this ever-changing environment, and for what has been asked of you in response to COVID-19. The campus continues to make the protection and health of everyone the highest priority and therefore we also must ramp down nonessential campus operations, including research activities.

Effective immediately, research group leaders of labs that require on campus resources (experimental, computational or otherwise) must ramp down these activities if they cannot be performed remotely by March 20th. This should be done with the anticipation that the suspension of nonessential research activities may last six to eight weeks. 

Essential (Critical) Research may be needed in some cases along with Essential Research Personnel. The listing of Essential Research and Essential Research Personnel should be shared with the College/School Dean by March 19th who will then share with the Provost and Vice President for Research.

Essential (Critical) Research

Essential research activities are limited to research that cannot go unattended or neglected as this would lead to an unrecoverable loss of data. Any requests for continuation of such a project (i.e., it can not be suspended in a reasonable amount of time) should be limited and submitted to the College/School Dean. The health and safety of those involved in essential research activities should be considered as to limit these activities and time spent on campus if needed. See below for the type of Essential Research Personnel would support these types of activities.

Essential Research Personnel

  1. The faculty and/or research staff who are necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of research that includes not easily replaceable perishable research materials. Not easily replaceable perishable research materials could include primary cell lines or long-term experiments for which there would be considerable cost and/or time associated with requiring the experiment to end. (An example would be a continual, ongoing one-month experiment that requires regular measurements or maintenance, without which all previous data would be lost)
  2. Responsible for maintenance of equipment that, if not done, could result in damage to equipment or extraordinary cost — for example, cryogen fill on NMR spectrometers.
  3. Researchers working on experiments that have a small window for completion — for example, research that relies on the ability to make specific measurements only a few times a year.

In cases where essential research personnel are working, ensure that the human physical distance in our research operations exceeds the social distancing guidelines.

Graduate Students

Note that graduate students are not mandated to serve as essential research personnel. The decision whether to report to campus lies with the graduate student, not with their faculty supervisor/faculty chair.

  • PIs should minimize their reliance on graduate student employees to maintain their research and assign them remote work to the fullest extent possible.
  • Graduate students who are not research employees and are working exclusively on their own thesis or dissertation research on campus must be conducting essential research, as defined above, and should be anticipating defending in spring or summer 2020.

Undergraduate students are not permitted as essential research personnel.

Human Subjects Research

Chapman has issued temporary policies related to human subjects related to the suspension of on campus studies (with and without students) and studies related to research visits. Complete information can be found at the Office of Research COVID-19 FAQs.

 Research Equipment

As a reminder, under no circumstances are researchers to take materials — other than laptops and data storage devices — off site, including to their homes.

 Office of Research Operations

The Office of Research will continue to offer full services during a campus closure and employees work remotely. This includes pre and post award services, IRB and IACUC submissions, and industry alliances and commercialization.

The COVID-19 challenge we are facing is unprecedented and we all must do our part to protect our campus and larger community. Please visit Chapman Coronavirus website and the Office of Research website for updates. Please also contact the Office of Research ( with any questions.