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Graduate and Post-Doc Guidance: Returning to Labs

Dear Pratt doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows,

We write to share with you a new video message from Provost Kornbluth as well as a Q&A prepared by the Office of the Vice President for Research for graduate and postdoctoral researchers returning to labs. 

Some of these points were discussed at today’s Pratt Town Hall, where we also collected additional questions that we will add to the Pratt-specific FAQs posted online at

Please look for more details soon, and in the meantime, please read the important message below for more information and helpful resources. 


Ravi Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of Engineering
George Truskey, Sr. Associate Dean



Video message from Provost Kornbluth: Guidelines for Returning to Duke Labs

As we open more of our laboratories, we wish to address some of the questions we’ve heard from students and postdoctoral fellows. We know that you are eager to resume your research, and we are equally eager to see Duke’s research enterprise resume operations with modifications as outlined below. We also understand that opening additional laboratories is not entirely without risk. We therefore write to let you know that safeguarding your health and safety is the top priority.  Accordingly, we are instituting an array of measures which are informed by our infection control team and safety experts. These have been designed to reduce our risks as we re-enter laboratories, and ultimately, other workspaces across the university, as described below:

  • A daily online symptom screening system to be completed before coming to work
  • A robust symptom-based testing program for our workforce
  • Installation of hand sanitizer stations throughout our buildings
  • Provision of face masks for those who don’t have their own
  • Controlled access to buildings in order to reduce the density of people and facilitate social distancing
  • Clear instructions tailored for each school, posted online and constantly updated to describe any changes, should they occur.
  • Mapping out of common spaces to show 6ft distances
  • Clear signs in common areas indicating safety guidelines
  • Frequent walkthrough of labs by departmental leaders assigned to buildings

Carefully observing these measures will help to protect you.  If you nonetheless show any symptoms of COVID-19, believe you have been exposed to the virus or have additional health concerns or questions about COVID-19, please contact student health (students) at 919-681-9355 or employee health (employees) at 919-684-3136. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days in your own home to protect your colleagues from further exposure. Please do not hesitate to contact student health (students) or employee health (postdocs) at any time. 

We have prepared a list of frequently asked questions regarding the reopening process and safety measures that must be observed. If you believe that your co-workers or colleagues are not observing the safety measures put into place, please contact the anonymous hotline at 1-800-826-8109 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or

This is a challenging time for everyone, especially as we return to activities that once seemed routine and may now feel unsafe.   Should you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisor, your DGS, or to any of the services listed below.  

Please know that our principal focus is your health and safety as we seek to resume the important research to which you have devoted your education and your careers.