Check here for updates regarding how COVID-19 is affecting sponsored programs and research at Emerson, and the steps we are taking to mitigate disruptions. If you have any questions, please email us at orcs [at] emerson.edu.

ORCS Remote Operations

Effective March 20, ORCS staff members have transitioned to working remotely while the Boston campus remains closed to non-essential staff. Staff are reachable via email, and are available to talk over the phone for urgent requests (we continue to check voicemail messages). We can also be reached on Slack - our team members can all be contacted individually on the platform, or via the ORCS Slack channel (#orcs-qna).

Hold On Hiring

On April 6, Human Resources announced that the College would place a temporary hold on hiring for new and vacant positions.

Please note that externally funded (i.e. grant and gift) positions are exempt from this hold, subject to:

  1. the sponsor’s approval of using funds to hire while campus activities are curtailed due to the pandemic; and
  2. the hired individual is able to perform all or most tasks remotely.

Ongoing Research And Grant-Funded Activities

To protect public health, access to the Boston campus was restricted for the remainder of the spring semester on March 20. As the College continues work on its One Flex Emerson Learning framework for the fall, we maintain that all research that can be accomplished remotely should proceed in such fashion until further notification.

All on-site research activities beyond the scope of activities currently allowed by the College must be approved by the Provost and a faculty member’s school dean and department chair. External visitors to labs and research spaces is subject to the College’s current policies on visitors. The College’s safety and sanitation protocols must be followed at all times. 

As preparation for the eventual return to in-person research, ORCS recommends that faculty, staff, and students take  a complimentary online course launched by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) entitled COVID-19: Back to Campus (Fall 2020). The course provides an overview of COVID-19, prevention strategies, recommended practices, and points to consider as students, staff, and faculty move forward to a return to activities within research institution settings. A supplemental module focuses on topics related to research with human subjects. 

Funding for COVID-19 and Coronavirus-Related Research or Projects

We are working hard to find potential funding sources for COVID-19-related scholarly work, and to support the College’s rapid evolution in online learning. Emerson community members can browse a curated list of COVID-19-related funding opportunities using ProQuest Pivot, a subscription-based funding opportunity database. Emerson College faculty and staff may create a user account by registering using their Emerson email address. Once signed in, click "Curated" on the right-hand side and look for the "COVID-19" public curated list.

Another good resource is GrantStation, which has removed its paywall so that anyone can search for pandemic-related funding opportunities.

While most grant opportunities for COVID-19 research and scholarship have been focused on hard sciences, we have been sharing relevant proposal calls with specific faculty and departments as we find them. If you have a research idea related to the pandemic and are looking for support, please contact us.

Recent Work, Publications, and Media Appearances by Emerson Faculty on the Topic of COVID-19

ORCS is curating a web page of Emerson faculty’s work related to COVID-19, including research, consulting, creative work, articles, interviews, and media appearances. If you have work of your own that you would like us to highlight on this page, please contact us at orcs [at] emerson.edu.

Delays And Disruptions To Research And Grant Activity

If you have an active award, please notify us as soon as possible if you anticipate that your project will experience significant delays or disruption due to coronavirus-related developments. We will work with you to plot a course of action. Some common ways of retaining grant funds in the event of unforeseen circumstances are no-cost extensions, or changes to a project's scope of work. Options such as this, however, vary from sponsor to sponsor, and will depend on the terms and conditions of your specific award.

Travel Related To Grant And Research Activities

Emerson announced new travel policy guidelines related to COVID-19 in early March. Related to this, we have seen some travel reservations cancelled that were initially made by individuals with the expectation they would submit their receipts for reimbursement after the trip. These cancellations are often nonrefundable.

  • Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
  • Visit Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.
  • Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States.

Subject to federal, state, and local restrictions, we will continue to facilitate grant-funded domestic travel for faculty and staff. However, we encourage all researchers to weigh whether any domestic travel is essential, and consider options to join meetings or events remotely, especially in areas with high infection rates.

A reminder: Please use a departmental p-card, or the Workday Marketplace, to make purchases directly as often as possible. If you currently have any reservations that you booked with the expectation of submitting an expense report for reimbursement, please let us know this as well.

Human Subjects Research

Researcher Training: As preparation for the eventual return to in-person research, ORCS recommends that faculty, staff, and students take  a complimentary online course launched by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) entitled COVID-19: Back to Campus (Fall 2020). The course provides an overview of COVID-19, prevention strategies, recommended practices, and points to consider as students, staff, and faculty move forward to a return to activities within research institution settings. A supplemental module focuses on topics related to research with human subjects. 

Since March, in accordance with guidance promulgated by the National Institutes of Health, Emerson College has required that all studies involving face-to-face interaction with participants with no direct drug or device therapeutic benefit are to be postponed until further notice.

This guidance does not apply to IRB-approved study activities that do not involve direct subject contact (e.g., chart review, surveys, remote interviews) or research that has already transitioned in-person visits over to virtual visits (e.g. interviews, surveys, questionnaires). Participant research visits must be performed remotely whenever possible. Researchers should consider using telephone, web conferencing, and other electronic means to conduct data collection procedures normally done in-person. These methods may be added when possible and practical for mitigating research risks to human subjects or others related to COVID-19. Any deviation from a previously approved IRB protocol must first be approved by the IRB.

Since March, the IRB has reached out to individual investigators to check on the status of their protocols. Please contact us if you experienced any disruption your research—whether this is due to this temporary policy or other coronavirus-related circumstances. The College is committed to working with investigators to mitigating such disruptions. In addition to the remote options outlined above, you may wish to request an extension of your protocol, or make other changes to data collection methods.

The IRB is committed to working with investigators to ensure the continuation of your research. Information is changing frequently. So we will update this page as needed. You can also refer to the Office of Hunan Research Protection (OHRP)’s COVID-19 guidance page for the most current information.

COVID-19 Guidance From Federal Grant Sponsors (As Of June 18, 2020)

On March 19th, 2020 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memo, M-20-17, relating to Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal sponsored awards. This memo does not authorize recipients to undertake any of the listed actions or to charge any of the mentioned costs to an Award. It only gives federal agencies the authority to issue exceptions authorized by the Memo. Some of these flexibilities included:

  • Prior approval requirements waived for budget revisions.
  • Extension of technical nad financial report due dates.
  • Extension of 2020 application deadlines.
  • Allowability of Costs not Normally Chargeable to Awards.
  • Early Award Closeout.

On June 18, OMB issued M-20-26, which rescinds several of the temporary administrative flexibilities initially granted by M-20-17. Please check the individual agencies’ web sites (linked below) for current information what flexibilities are still available to grantees. A good, one-stop resource for all federal agencies can be found on the Council on Government Relations’ COVID information page.


National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)


National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)


National Institutes of Health (NIH)


National Science Foundation