LATEST INFO FROM MRI LEADERSHIP TEAM

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Objectives:

Our objective is to define essential life-sustaining research and support of essential services for the MRI community.  In core facilities this means all reservations must be made by contacting staff starting midnight 3/20/2020. Details to follow from the individual facilities.  Overall, the facilities and building may close to users at any time subject to additional directives from university leadership and governance. 

Top priorities are obvious: 

  1. Limit the Transmission of COVID –19.  If you feel ill, it is imperative that you stay home. If you have traveled, please consider our community and self-isolate for 14 days. 
  2. Keep Students, Staff and Faculty Safe (We note that this can only be done if each of us is responsible not only for our own safety, but also for the safety of all other people in the building and on campus) 
  3. All researchers must be prepared for status changes and protocol changes and therefore limit their research scope.  Take all necessary work items home to enable you to do work remotely.  
  4. Provide Scientific Services to Companies the Governor has Identified as belonging to the Life-Sustaining Category.  Maintain service to essential supply chains to Medical Supplier Companies as long as we can but considering above risks.   

Status:

For the last week we had limited access to MSC, and successfully operated and supported the MRI research in the core facilities. At this moment in time, we will continue to apply strict conditions to remain open to provide the professional services and scientific research as listed by Governor Wolf. We also have scientific services that are supporting industries that are still permitted to run under the Governors list and enforced under State Law. In particular, we have had local companies reach out to us that will be part of the essential services that supplies materials and components for critical medical tools such as ultrasound transducers, even if the present situation changes we have a duty to those companies that are supplying such medical equipment to the medical front lines of this pandemic emergency. 

Ultimately, there could and will arise an even tighter definition on essential services and research. To prepare you, and your planning we will start to guide you on such definitions (these are very likely to change) , but these are a guide that we have considered in terms of our own MRI leadership as we are subject to Penn State leadership decisions, coupled with state and federal governance.  

  1. Research (Having Access to Labs and facility instruments with limitations designed for maximum safety). We encourage individuals to be guided by their advisors.  At any point, we could receive additional directives, and it may be possible that there will be a change to essential research only.  
  2. Essential definition could be:  
    1. Research that would lead to significant loss of data such in long crystal growth runs, or reliability monitoring. (We advise to only finish currently running growth or monitoring experiments and not start new ones as of March 20) 
    2. Research that is linked to COVID-19 (Work with advisors and Research Staff to address revised SOPs) 
    3. It is critical that our facilities support necessary company product manufacturers or government needs – we will work with our staff and core facility managers to enable this.  For example, the largest supplier of medical transducers in the US is a local company.  The second largest supplier is in Washington State, where the epidemic is very serious.  We also provide essential quality control services to the materials manufacturers that supply into this chain.   
    4. Be prepared for more rigorous definitions and changes moving forward. 

Other Guidance and Recommendations:

We have protocols for entering, operating the facilities and lab interactions in the MSC that must be adhered to. 

Think about designing your research under these uncertain conditions - plan for all to be safe following the highest lab protocols and the COVID 19 CDC recommendations. 

  1. If you feel sick, have a fever or a cough, stay away from the lab  
  2. If you are feeling OK, social distancing, and cleanliness are required.  Stay 2 m away from your colleagues. 
  3. In terms of your office space: limit your time in the building.  If you are a student and writing, reading the literature or working on modeling, it would be wise to do that at home.  The only time that you should be in MSC is for experimental work. 
  4. If you are in an office or aisle with more than two people and the separation needs to be increased, then move to a location that makes all feel comfortable and stay safe.  
  5. OPP has reduced Staffing to essential, so Restrooms and Food Areas are now less protected. Leave the Building if you are not actively conducting experiments and go home.   

Keep safe as we try to address the expectations and needs under the governor’s and university’s recommendations.

MRI Leadership Team:
Clive Randall, Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Joan Redwing, Josh Stapleton, Chad Eichfeld, Kevin Dressler, Sarah Eichfeld, Bob Cornwall, Jeff Shallenberger