COVID-19 Update: Funding Opportunities, Disinfecting Lab Space and More
05/29/2020, 02:50:01 PM
From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

Last week, I addressed the action required in case there is an identified infection. Below, I address the steps required to reopen labs after potential or confirmed exposure to COVID-19. I also remind you that the State emergency leave program will be ending on Sunday, May 31.

We continue to post COVID-19 related funding opportunities, and a couple of them are mentioned below. You might have heard about them already in our 50-in-5 Faculty Café sessions on COVID-19 Related Funding Opportunities for Research. These sessions are usually not offered during the summer, but if there is sufficient interest, we can continue the series.

Zoom Backgrounds

You may have seen DOR staff with Zoom backgrounds during the Virtual VPR Office Hours that encourage the behavior needed to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19, such as wearing masks, washing hands, checking health, and social distancing. These backgrounds are available for all to use. Go to the Zoom Background page to download any of the images.

Cleaning and Disinfecting the Lab/Workspace in Case of Possible Exposure to COVID-19

If someone in your research group reports they have been exposed to COVID-19 patients/potential patients or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, ask them to self-isolate right away. They should stay at home, except to get medical care, and should not go to work, school or be in public areas. After following the Reporting Symptoms guidelines found on the Reopening Research page, you should close off any areas used by the individual who has reported an exposure. You do not necessarily need to close operations if you can close off the affected area(s). Contact Cris Milligan (, who will work with Facilities Services in case a deeper cleaning of your lab is required. If no deeper cleaning is required, the CDC recommends that you wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect the lab/workspace. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. We added specific guidelines to the Reopening Research page. 

Funding Opportunities

We have offered three sessions of COVID-19 Related Funding Opportunities in our Faculty Café series. The number of new opportunities is decreasing, but there are still a few new and old ones that I would like to highlight.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) released a new seedling BAA for COVID-19 projects. The COVID-19 topic areas of interest for this IARPA seedling BAA are detection and sensing; supply chain management and integrity; geo-spatio-temporal monitoring and mapping, with privacy protection; information reliability and collaboration tools; and modeling, simulation, and predictive analytics. Proposals are due July 7, 2020.

Another opportunity comes from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) that announced the competition DRL FY19 Countering Corruption amid COVID-19 in support of the goal of combating corruption arising in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. DRL seeks a project to enhance transparency and empower civil society and media to monitor and promote accountability of government responses to COVID-19. A competitive applicant will be able to work across multiple countries with a consortium of civil society organizations, media entities, and anti-corruption advocates to support enhanced transparency and accountability in public procurement processes.

You can find more opportunities on our COVID-19 Funding Opportunities page.

50-in-5 Faculty Café

With the end of the semester, we typically pause our 50-in-5 Faculty Café sessions. However, because of COVID-19, your needs for the summer are likely different from previous summers. Let us know whether there are topics you would like to see over the summer that would help you navigate the current difficult circumstances. Simply send an email with suggestions to AVP Claudia Neuhauser (

Changes to Emergency Leave as of June 1

Effective Monday, June 1, the State Emergency Leave Program, which began on March 18, will no longer be available.  We encourage you to contact your HR business partner or the HR Customer Service Center with any questions about emergency leave options currently available to employees.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) continues to be in effect through December 31. Please visit the HR page for details on the Emergency Leave. These guidelines apply to anyone on payroll, including GAs, student workers, part-time employees, etc. The FFCRA expands the options for those who are unable to perform work, including work from home, and provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for those who meet the eligibility criteria.


Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer | | 713-743-4736

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