This page will be updated as announcements are sent to Postdoctoral Trainees and their Advisors. Please check back regularly, or email postdocs@uab.edu with questions and concerns. 
Last Update: 4/8/2020

Updates

5/21/2020 - UAB Return to Research

As you know, UAB will be transitioning from Limited (Code Orange) to Modified (Code Yellow) Operations - Phase I next Tuesday, May 26th.  With this transition, research will re-open; guidelines about the re-opening can be found at: 

https://www.uab.edu/coronavirus/reentry/expectations-guidelines.  

So, what does transition to Code Yellow - Phase I mean for Postdocs?  Here are some key-points:

  • Postdocs will not need approval to work on campus
  • Before returning to campus – 
    • complete the web-based training course “COVID-19: Basic Safety and Awareness Course” (coming soon)
    • complete UAB Healthcheck (https://www.uab.edu/healthcheck), a COVID-19 assessment tool (coming soon)
  • After returning to campus –
    • regularly complete UAB Healthcheck
    • wear masks and practice social distancing while on campus
    • keep meetings to small groups
    • wash or disinfect hands frequently
    • disinfect shared equipment and items in the lab and common work areas
    • before starting work and before leaving any room, wipe down work areas with sanitizing wipes

Each lab / work-group is required to create an operational plan that includes measures for social distancing, which may require staggering of work schedules, and sanitizing all work areas. These plans must be reviewed and approved by the respective department before the lab / work-group may return. Please connect with your mentor to review the operational plan for your group. If you have concerns about returning to campus, please discuss with your mentor or reach out to the OPE.

While research is schedule to officially re-open next Tuesday, it is just the beginning of this transition! Continue to work remotely as much as possible to limit your time on campus -- if you are not feeling well, stay home and seek medical attention as needed.

Please let me know if you have any questions...

Thanks / Stay well-
Lisa

Lisa M. Schwiebert, PhD | Professor & Senior Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs
UAB | The University of Alabama at Birmingham

4/7/2020 - Approval Form and Process for Postdoctoral Work

From: Postdoctoral Education
Date: April 7, 2020 at 10:16:37 PM CDT
Subject: FW:  Guidance for Mentored Research under Limited Business Operations

As an update to the previous email regarding an approval process for those postdocs and grad students who are required to be in the lab, a Docusign approval form is now in place to facilitate this process.  Please see the attached instructions for the completion and signing of this form, which can be found HERE.

The School of Medicine Dean's office will route this approval process through Dr. Tika Benveniste (tika@uab.edu).
 If your appointment is in a different school, please contact your dean's office to determine who the appropriate signatory is for that approval step.

Please note that any 'approver' in the approval chain can deny the request. In the event that the request is denied, that 'approver' must contact the mentor and explain the rationale. It is expected that if a mentor and postdoc(s) do not agree with the requirement to continue lab work that they will work to resolve their disagreement. If a resolution is not met, myself and/or the department chair will help resolve the disagreement.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this process - thank you for your patience!!

All my best-

Lisa

Lisa M. Schwiebert, PhD | Professor & Senior Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs

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4/6/2020 - UAB OFFICE OF RESEARCH GUIDANCE UPDATE

Personnel

When individuals need to be present in the laboratory, best practices for social distancing must be used, including staggering work times, working six feet (two meters) apart, and limiting interactions. However, no one should work alone. If that is unavoidable, work when there is someone in an office on the same hall. If someone is not in the lab with you under these extenuating circumstances, you should always keep your mobile phone on your person, let someone know where you are, how long you will be there, and when to expect your return (a virtual buddy system). Rave Guardian (https://www.uab.edu/emergency/rave-guardian) provides a possible solution.

Trainees (undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral)

  • No trainee should be compelled to come to campus for any purpose, and faculty and Departments/Schools must be flexible to support remote work arrangements.
  • Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows:
    • Graduate students and post-docs may be permitted in laboratories for completion of studies needed for a thesis or dissertation defense during the 2020 Spring or Summer terms or the completion of studies for postdoctoral fellows who are within 3 months of an end of an appointment or fellowship funding when those activities do not require interventions or interactions with human subjects and can meet the social distancing requirements.
    • Faculty advisors and mentors should work with their graduate students and postdocs to develop or update individualized plans (IDPs) to continue their research remotely.
    • In the event that a laboratory requires a trainee to maintain a physical presence in the lab for the completion of their specific studies or to maintain other essential research, a written exception request including at least the name of the trainee, the physical space they would occupy, and justification that the research is essential is required from the PI. The request must be approved by the following in sequential order as listed below:
      • Program Director for Graduate Studies Program (for the graduate student)
      • Department Chair (of the PI/advisor)
      • School/College Dean’s Office (of the PI/advisor)
      • Dean of the Graduate School (for graduate students) OR Senior Associate Dean of the Office of Postdoctoral Education (for postdoctoral fellows)
    • The resulting decision will be reported to the trainee, PI, the Graduate Studies/Program Director, and the PI’s Department Chair and School/College Dean’s Office.

Updated guidance can be found here. 

3/24/2020 - New Postdoc Hires & Limited Business Operations

Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 8:20 AM
Subject: *UPDATE* New Postdoc Hires & Limited Business Operations
Importance: High

Dear All-

As a follow-up/ update to yesterday’s email, I have just learned that UAB is implementing a temporary hiring suspension – for more info, please go to this website: 

https://www.uab.edu/humanresources/home/temp-hiring-suspension

Note that some exceptions, including “Specialized research personnel needed to fulfill extramural grant/contract obligations that cannot be met by existing or redeployed personnel”, may be requested.

Please let me know if you have any questions…

Thanks / Best-

Lisa

Lisa M. Schwiebert, PhD 
Professor & Senior Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs

From: Postdoctoral Education <Prov-PostDocs@mail.ad.uab.edu>
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2020 9:00 AM
Subject: New Postdoc Hires & Limited Business Operations 

Dear All-

First and foremost, I hope you and your families are well - we are all in this together!

Over the past week, as we transitioned to limited operations, the Postdoc Office received many questions and concerns from postdocs, mentors and admin regarding a number of topics, including but not limited to stipends, benefits, new hires, telecommuting, etc.  To address these questions and concerns, we compiled related-info and FAQs on the OPE website - please check it out here

Please let me know if you have questions / concerns about any of this info or if there is a particular need that should be addressed. 

With regard to new postdoc hires, the latest guidance from HR is to move forward with these new hires as originally planned.  For new international postdoc hires, note that J-1 visas have been delayed until at least June 1st.  For specific visa-related questions, contact Catherine Crowe at ISS (cpcrowe@uab.edu). 

We continue to reach out to postdocs, reassuring them that their stipends and benefits will continue during this uncertain time.  All will be invited to join a Zoom meeting next Friday, hosted by the UAB Postdoc Association Executive Committee, to hear their concerns directly.

Thank you for all that you do for postdocs and their mentors!

3/18/2020 - Virtual Seminars + Updates for Postdocs

Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 7:00 AM
Subject: Virtual Seminars + Updates for Postdocs

Included:

  • Guidance for Mentored Research
  • CCTS to Offer Virtual Seminars and Sessions
  • Remote Career Development Options
  • Mental Health Resources
  • UAB Ethics Hotline

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Guidance for Mentored Research Under Limited Business Operations

We are very aware that some postdoctoral fellows are unsure of the expectations of those who continue to be engaged in on-campus research activities.

Attached are Guidelines for Mentored Research under the Limited Business Operations plan which provides information, support, and assistance to research intensive faculty and trainees, including postdoctoral fellows.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me by email, phone or text: 205-965-6504.

Thank you for all that you do!

Best / Stay safe-

Lisa

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CCTS to Offer Virtual Seminars and Sessions During Limited University Operations

  • BERD Clinics will continue virtually by appointment, and can be scheduled via email.
  • Case Studies in Mentoring and Friday Fellows Meetings will continue their regularly scheduled sessions using Zoom, beginning next week. Details can be found here for Case Studies and here for Friday Fellows.
  • Training Interdisciplinary & Emerging Research Scholars (TIERS) will take place as planned this Friday, March 20th via Skype. Details found here.
  • Clinical Research Support Program (CRSP) seminars and events will take a momentary pause. Research Seminar Series and Research Orientation Program are cancelled this week and will be rescheduled.
  • CTSTP will continue virtually starting March 25th: Zoom information can be found on the CTSTP page.

Stay current on updates to scheduling and format by visiting the CCTS Upcoming Events page here.

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Remote Career Development Options

If you are interested in using this time to participate in career exploration or skill development, we want to make sure you are aware of a few options

  • Job Simulations- Job Simulations are an emerging tool for PhD trained researchers to explore various careers in a low- commitment, time-efficient manner. Simulations are designed to offer trainees a task that would be common in a career or profession of interest. These exercises allow for the trainee to determine if this would be a good fit for skills and interest. More information can be found here
  • iBiology's Business Concepts for Life ScientistsThe purpose of the Business Concepts for Life Scientists course is to enhance PhD scientists’ understanding of foundational business concepts. This business coursework is unique because it is designed to prepare scientists for career transitions into both academic and non-academic settings. The course comprises a series of three modules - Business Strategy, Finance and Business Development. More information can be found here.  On April 1st, the National Postdoc Association will host a webinar on this program. Click here to register.     
  • Jami Armbrester is offering Zoom Career Advising appointments and resume, CV, and cover letter reviews. Email her at JamiA@uab.edu to set a time, and to submit a document for review

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Mental Health Resources

The Student Counseling Services team has put together a website with a list of online supports, tele-mental health options, phone and text support, apps and additional resources from the CDC. Please take advantage of this resource, https://www.uab.edu/students/counseling/resources/covid-19-services-and-resources.

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UAB Ethics Hotline

Concerns may be reported anonymously by contacting The University of Alabama System EthicsPoint, operated by Navex. Call toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 1-866-362-9476. Should you have any questions, the OPE is always available. Please email us with questions and concerns.




Sent: Monday, March 16, 2020 8:00 PM
Subject: Guidance for Mentored Research under Limited Business Operations

All-

We are very aware that some postdoctoral fellows are unsure of the expectations of those who continue to be engaged in on-campus research activities.

Attached are Guidelines for Mentored Research under the Limited Business Operations plan which provides information, support, and assistance to research intensive faculty and trainees, including postdoctoral fellows.

Please do not hesitate to reach out

3/16/2020 - Guidance for Mentored Research under Limited Business Operations

Sent: Monday, March 16, 2020 8:00 PM
Subject: Guidance for Mentored Research under Limited Business Operations

All-

We are very aware that some postdoctoral fellows are unsure of the expectations of those who continue to be engaged in on-campus research activities.

Attached are Guidelines for Mentored Research under the Limited Business Operations plan which provides information, support, and assistance to research intensive faculty and trainees, including postdoctoral fellows.

Please do not hesitate to reach out

 



Sent:
 Monday, March 16, 2020 6:32 AM
Subject: UAB's Limited Business Model and Postdoctoral Training

Dear All-

 

As you know, UAB is now shifting to a phase of limited operations.  Here's what this means for postdocs:

  • only essential work should be accomplished in the coming days
  • please contact your mentor regarding the expectations over the next couple weeks
  • working remotely is encouraged
  • if there is no need to be at work, stay home

Please know that, during this time, your stipend will continue. Your health insurance will continue. Life will go on as normal as possible.

 

Please let any of us in the OPE know if you have any questions / concerns...

NIH Information and Links

NIH Late Application Policy Due to Public Health Emergency for US for 2019 Novel Coronavirus

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-20-082.html

General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)- Proposal Submission and Award Management Related to COVID-19

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-20-083.html

Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-20-086.html

Guidance for NIH-funded Clinical Trials and Human Subjects Studies Affected by COVID-19

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-20-087.html

Update: NIH Late Application Policy Due to Public Health Emergency for US for 2019 Novel Coronavirus

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-20-091.html

FAQs: COVID-19 Flexibilities for Applicants and Recipients

https://grants.nih.gov/faqs#/covid-19.htm

1. Can I request an extension for a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service

Award (NRSA) fellowship award?

Yes. Recipients may submit extension requests to the funding IC for consideration when the effects of COVID-19 have altered the planned course of the research training. Extension requests must include a description of how COVID-19 affected the fellowship award, and clearly outline how much additional time is needed. All such requests must be signed by the fellow, the Authorized Organization Representative, and the fellowship sponsor.

2.May National Research Service Award (NRSA) trainees and fellows, who receive stipends rather than salaries, continue to receive stipend payments if they are unable to work as a result of COVID-19?

Yes, stipend payments may continue to be charged to NIH NRSA grants affected by COVID-19. Recipients should notify the Grants Management Specialist named in the notice of award and provide documentation demonstrating the effect of COVID-19, and how long the institution will be affected.

3. Will University closings due to COVID 19 be allowed as a reason for ESI end date extensions?

Yes, investigators that have been affected by COVID-19 (e.g. university closure) may submit requests for an extension of ESI status through eRA Commons via the ESI Extension request button in the Education section of their Personal Profile. Refer to 4/1/2020 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) | grants.nih.gov https://grants.nih.gov/faqs#/covid-19.htm?anchor=question5585418/19 the ESI FAQs and eRA Online Help for more information on how to request an extension of ESI status.

4. Our institutionʼs Office of Sponsored programs has been mandated to work from home and they are not able to send in the original signed Payback forms. How should we provide NIH the forms?

There is no need to submit these forms at this time. NIH will allow for delayed submission of NRSA Payback Agreements due to COVID-19. Recipients should notify the funding IC of the delay and submit the form as soon as feasible.

5. Can I request an extension for a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) and/or fellowship award?

Yes. Recipients may submit extension requests to the funding IC for consideration when the effects of COVID-19 have altered the planned course of the research training/activities. Extension requests must include a description of how COVID-19 affected the NRSA and/or fellowship award, and clearly outline how much additional time is needed. All such requests must be signed by the fellow, the Authorized Organization and the fellowship sponsor.

6. For awards with an effort level requirement (e.g., Career Development Awards), can PI effort be temporarily reduced below program effort requirements due to the impact of COVID-19?

Yes, recipients can contact the funding IC to request reductions in effort due to COVID-19, which may go below the required effort levels for the grant.

7. Can a K99 applicant apply for an extension of the 4-year eligibility window (for initial applications or resubmissions) due to COVID-19?

Yes, K99 applicants can request an extension to their K99 eligibility window due to the effects of COVID-19 on their research productivity. Affected applicants should consult with the funding IC for further guidance.



FAQ

1. Where can I find the most current UAB COVID-19 updates?

UAB will update this webpage with any new developments. Please check back regularly. 

Read more

2. Do I need to sign a telecommuting agreement?

Your department may request you complete this agreement. If so, please complete the form, and return it to your department representative.

Read more

3. Will I be paid?

On 3/18/2020, Finanical Affairs and HR sent an update to departments with information on Payroll. All employees with a current monthly salary will be paid as usual. This includes status 20 and 21 Postdoctoral Trainees.

4. Should I go into the lab or on campus?

Based on the latest COVID-19 developments and the need to minimize in-person contact, UAB (university) will begin transitioning to a limited business model for employees in Workgroup A starting Monday, March 16. To check your Workgroup, please click here.

  • Graduate students and post-docs may be permitted in laboratories for completion of studies needed for a thesis or dissertation defense during the 2020 Spring or Summer terms or the completion of studies for postdoctoral fellows who are within 3 months of an end of an appointment or fellowship funding when those activities do not require interventions or interactions with human subjects and can meet the social distancing requirements.
  • Faculty advisors and mentors should work with their graduate students and postdocs to develop or update individualized plans (IDPs) to continue their research remotely.
  • In the event that a laboratory requires a trainee to maintain a physical presence in the lab for the completion of their specific studies or to maintain other essential research, a written exception request including at least the name of the trainee, the physical space they would occupy, and justification that the research is essential is required from the PI. The request must be approved by the following in sequential order as listed below:
    • Program Director for Graduate Studies Program (for the graduate student)
    • Department Chair (of the PI/advisor)
    • School/College Dean’s Office (of the PI/advisor)
    • Dean of the Graduate School (for graduate students) OR Senior Associate Dean of the Office of Postdoctoral Education (for postdoctoral fellows)
  • The resulting decision will be reported to the trainee, PI, the Graduate Studies/Program Director, and the PI’s Department Chair and School/College Dean’s Office.

Read more

5. What if I am enrolled in classes?

As part of the ongoing University of Alabama System Office planning to safeguard our campus community, UAB and our sister campuses are announced that there will be no more in-person/on-site classes for the duration of the spring semester. The UAB spring semester will resume Wednesday, March 25, in an online/alternative format. All instruction will be delivered remotely using the most effective tools available. Students should work with their instructors to access materials and utilize resources, an online FAQ and guidance to help them succeed in this format. 

6. I have seen unethical or concerning behaviors in my work environment. What should I do?

If you see or suspect unethical or illegal behavior, you may report your concerns anonymously by contacting The University of Alabama System EthicsPoint, operated by Navex. Call toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-866-362-9476

If you would like to make the Senior Associate Dean, Postdoc Office, or Postdoc Association aware of something, you can submit a comment or concern here anonymously.

Read more

7. What should I do if I am suspected to or confirmed to have COVID-19?

If you are sick and have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 because you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, follow these steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

8. Will my insurance cover the cost of diagnostic testing related to COVID-19?

Yes, according to VIVA, it will be covered. 

Read more

9. How is "essential research" defined?

As of 3/27/2020, the Office of Research defines Essential Research as:
  • COVID-19 research that has the potential to mitigate the pandemic;
  • Human subjects research that if discontinued would harm participants;
  • Procedures requiring timely and regular attention to maintain critical laboratory infrastructure and experimental conditions. For example, providing animal support, maintaining equipment that requires gas, cryogenic service, monitoring irreplaceable cell lines, and other substantially similar treatments;
  • Studies in progress that must be completed in order to avoid catastrophic data loss;
  • Studies needed for a thesis or dissertation defense.

Check out this link for the most up-to-date guidance. 

Read more