How Purdue is tracking COVID’s impact on research

Software can help researchers request extensions or supplemental funding
By: | May 19, 2020
Purdue University has developed software to track the effects of coronavirus on its research activities. (Purdue University image.)Purdue University has developed software to track the effects of coronavirus on its research activities. (Purdue University image.)

The financial disruption wrought by the coronavirus on Purdue University’s research activities is now being calculated by software the institution has developed with Microsoft.

The “COVID-19 Sponsored Program Impact Application,” tool, which is accessed through Microsoft Teams, allows Purdue researchers to input data about lost progress lost on their projects.

The software, which is pre-populated withs project payroll and other data, aggregates the information to gauge the financial impact for each grant. Previously, such a process would require “enormous effort,” the university says.

“At this point, we have more than 1,100 faculty members on campus using the tool, and it is allowing us to get a clearer picture of how the COVID-19 event has affected our research programs,” Theresa Mayer, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships, said in a university release. “Until now, we have not been able to quantify the impact at the research project level this efficiently.”

The program gives researchers the information to better respond to federal agencies’ specific questions. The tool also supports researchers in requesting project extensions or supplemental funding, said Ken Sandel, Purdue’s senior director of sponsored programs.


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“We have already used the data to see that a number of projects were unaffected by stay-at-home orders,” Sandel said. “Many are computational in nature and could be accomplished from home, while others required access to laboratory equipment, so their efforts were more significantly affected.”

Purdue University and Microsoft plan to make research tracking software available to other institutions.

Purdue University and Microsoft plan to make research tracking software available to other institutions.

Purdue and Microsoft Teams plan to make the tool available to other universities.

Research activity is restarting

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has permitted universities to resume laboratory-based research activities.

The University of Michigan is now formulating a plan to gradually open its research labs and studios.

The first phase will involve just a few labs operating under strict public health guidelines.

Faculty, staff and graduate students will be required to wear face coverings and only be allowed into labs in small groups.

All building traffic will be monitored, and performance metrics will to used to determine when additional labs can open, the university says.

The university says will continue to require “all work to be done remotely that can be done remotely.”


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.