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Updates for graduate students and postdocs on continuing research

Categories: Academics, Research

Dear Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars,

Your contribution to our teaching and research community is central to the University’s mission. As President Tessier-Lavigne noted in his message of March 5, we are taking prudent precautions to protect our community and communities beyond our campus, while continuing our daily education and research activities in ways that are appropriate under the circumstances.

During this time of increasing attention to COVID-19 and its impacts, we want to share current guidance and assure you of our support as the situation develops. Your health, safety and well-being, and that of your families, is our top priority as we collectively respond to the challenges facing us.

At a fundamental level, observe these best practices to help minimize the risk and prevent the spread of illness:

  • Social distancing and remote working as needed to limit close contact with others
  • Respiratory etiquette including covering coughs and sneezes
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Staying home when sick and remind others to stay home when they are not feeling well
  • Good self-care including adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and relaxation

Classes and academic activities have already been modified in order both to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to ease anxiety in our community as winter finals approach. Researchers can continue their research, including lab activities, unless you are sick, immuno-compromised or have other individual circumstances that should be discussed with your advisor or PI.

To the extent that we get confirmed cases of COVID-19 among members of our community, we will be working closely with county public health officials on the appropriate response steps. To be prudent, we are asking Principal Investigators and lab members to prepare plans for research continuity; additional information about that planning will be available at  We encourage each individual research assistant and postdoc to give careful thought to what you could do to advance your research with reduced or even no lab presence, such as analyzing data, planning or writing papers or thesis chapters, reviewing literature, doing calculations and modeling, and planning future experiments.

We understand you may be concerned about possible disruptive impacts on matriculation, research progress, and compliance with grant requirements. We want to assure you that we understand the need for you to conduct your academic and research activities and support the careful continuation of research, and we will do so within the best current health and safety guidance. University leadership is addressing these issues and will stay in touch with you about additional guidelines and possible mitigation measures as the situation evolves.

At Stanford we are doing our utmost to ensure the well-being of our campus community while maintaining the essential business and research functions of our institution. As scholars, researchers, and members of our Stanford and global community, you each have a role to play in our collective efforts to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19, and we thank you for your cooperation and partnership. We also appreciate your understanding as guidelines evolve to keep pace with the local and global health situation. We will continue to provide frequent updates and resources as part of our commitment to helping you navigate the coming days. Please continue to follow updates from Stanford regarding various policies and look for FAQs that will be posted soon at


Stacey Bent

Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs

Professor of Chemical Engineering