Detailed information and a FAQ on Berkeley Lab’s response to COVID-19 can be found here: covid.lbl.gov.
To Foundry Users:
“Dear Molecular Foundry Community,
I hope that you are all doing well during this ongoing health crisis. I am sure that many of you are eager to resume research activities and wondering how to do that safely while reducing the risk of infection for yourself and others. Berkeley Lab has been exploring how to safely return to work by gradually increasing the number of workers on site through a series of pilot programs.
Starting on July 13, the Molecular Foundry will be admitting users from outside Berkeley Lab to perform research at our facilities in Buildings 67 and 72. Due to social distancing requirements, access will be necessarily limited to experienced users with active user projects who can work independently in a given facility. We realize that this will likely prevent certain users, especially new users, from starting work in person at the Foundry. We are committed to the research goals of all users, but this limitation is needed in order to minimize the health risks for our community, and safety is our top priority. We encourage users to explore with their assigned staff alternative paths to reach their research goals and we welcome suggestions on how to do this using online technology or remote access. Our staff are exploring these possibilities where it makes sense.
The Foundry will provide access through a shift schedule: (1) 6am to 12 noon; (2) 1pm to 7pm; and (3) 8pm to 5am. Details will be provided shortly; keep an eye out for an email from our User Program Office that will outline how to work with your assigned scientist to request access.
I should emphasize that the limited access provided within this pilot is our best effort to explore how to safely perform work and continue our mission as a user facility while respecting the risks associated with COVID-19. We continue to ask for your patience and, if you can access our facilities, your cooperation in following the guidelines for working safely at Berkeley Lab during this pandemic.”
David Prendergast, Interim Foundry Director
Frequently Asked Questions: Foundry Restart Pilot 2a
- What is the process for users to get approval for Foundry access?
We are collecting requests for access to the Foundry at least one week in advance to your planned use of our facilities. Some facilities and instruments are in high demand, so early requests (3-4 weeks in advance) and flexibility in scheduling will improve your chances of timely access. We encourage you to coordinate with your assigned scientist to request access before you wish to come on site.
- Can users who are not LBNL employees access the Foundry during Pilot 2a?
Yes, during Pilot 2a, access to Berkeley Lab is no longer limited to LBNL employees. However, there are still a limited number of available access slots, and limitations to side-by-side work, including training, will delay access for some users to a later phase.
- What sort of work is being approved during Pilot 2a?
The assigned scientist for each project is the best contact for determining what parts of your proposed work might be completed during Restart Pilot 2a. Only work that can be performed safely and effectively in an independent way is possible. The Foundry values equity of access for our users, held in balance with safety precautions and limits to overall occupancy in Pilot 2a. We aim to carefully consider such factors as:
- Potential to impact the fight against COVID-19
- DOE and Berkeley Lab research priorities
- Urgency of timelines including student graduation, or finalizing a grant or publication
- Inherently safe activities, such as the ability to operate equipment independently to avoid side-by-side work, consistent with physical distancing requirements and work alone policies
- Development work that has potential for broad scientific or economic impacts
- Instrument availability
- Experimental complexity
- Travel considerations
- What are the access shifts?
There are three daily shifts on weekdays, Monday through Friday:
- 6:00 am-12:00 pm
- 1:00 pm-7:00 pm
- 8:00 pm-5:00 am
Saturday and Sunday are managed as one shift during each 24-hour period.
- What should I do if my experiment requires more time than one shift?
You may request multiple shifts during the same day, or spread across multiple days. Please work with your assigned scientist to discuss this possibility.
- How are requests to use multiple facilities handled?
Access to the Molecular Foundry is typically reserved for one facility (floor) per shift. If your work requires access to multiple facilities, this requires greater coordination and communication, and may require a second reserved slot.
If your access to a second facility is incidental, such as taking five minutes to collect a sample or fill an ice bucket, you are not required to reserve a slot in the second facility. However, you must communicate clearly with the facility director and staff of the second facility to make sure they are aware of your activities in advance, and work in a coordinated manner with others working in that facility to maintain 6-ft distancing, disinfection, and space occupancy limits.
If your access to a second facility is more integrated into your work, such that you will spend more than 5-10 minutes in the second facility, you are required to get approval for work from both facilities. This will consume an access slot in each of the facilities.
- How can I tell if I am approved for Molecular Foundry access during restart?
You should have received an email from your assigned scientist or facility director confirming the specific date(s) and time(s) of access.
- What steps must I take to prepare for coming on site?
Once you have approval from your assigned scientist to come onsite to work, you must:
- Complete the Berkeley Lab COVID-19 training course LBL-0012
- Review and accept the conditions of the WPC activity MF-0169 Molecular Foundry COVID-19 Exposure Prevention
- Complete your weekly symptom check, updated every Sunday, which must be recorded here: https://go.lbl.gov/s
- Continue to monitor your health symptoms daily, and do not report to a Lab site if you develop symptoms
- Bring your badge
Once all these conditions are met, we welcome you to the Foundry to do your work. Your name will be listed on daily access sheets posted at each of our entries to Buildings 67 and 72.
- What should I do if I arrive on site and don’t find my name on the door list of approved access?
Do not enter the Molecular Foundry. Even if you are sure that you should have access, our staff are empowered to ask you to leave if your name is not listed. If you believe that a mistake has been made, we encourage you to get in touch with your assigned scientist and/or facility director to inquire as to your access permissions.
- Are users allowed on site to collect belongings or drop off materials?
Please note that during our current restart pilot Berkeley Lab is closely monitoring the number of individuals who are accessing its sites based on badge checks at entry points. Even if you only plan to be on site for a short period of time, this access will be counted against the total number of permitted accesses for that day and so it may prevent someone else from working in their lab for an entire shift. For this reason, we would advise you to arrange to access the Lab for short, non-research visits on weekend days, or on weekdays after 8:00 pm.
- What is the timeline for increased user access to the Molecular Foundry?
The current public health context is being closely monitored for decision-making about future expansion of access to Berkeley Lab. The Foundry will be carefully considering factors such as safe maximum density before expanding numbers of users. The Berkeley Lab COVID-19 information page has current information about the pilot restart: https://covid.lbl.gov/
7/13/2020: Restart Pilot 2a began on July 13. Please refer to the updated FAQ.
5/28/2020: Berkeley Lab will begin Restart Pilot 1 on June 1, during which time the number of people working onsite will roughly double. A limited number of Foundry personnel will be able to return, as well as certain high-priority, trained users for whom LBL is their home institution. More information is forthcoming. Please see covid.lbl.gov for training and safety requirements during Pilot 1.
4/27/2020: The Bay Area will extend its shelter-in-place orders through the end of May. The Foundry will continue working remotely, with only critical operations and COVID-19 related research on-site.
4/14/2020: Active Foundry user proposals have been further extended. Please check the proposal portal for updated timelines.
3/30/2020: The Bay Area is extending its shelter-in-place orders until at least May 3rd. The Foundry staff continue to work remotely, and on-site work exempted from the order related to COVID-19 is ongoing in the Biological Nanostructures facility.
3/19/2020: The state of California is under shelter-in-place orders until further notice. For more information, see covid19.ca.gov. The Foundry continues to operate remotely, with reduced onsite staffing levels in accordance with local and statewide directives.
3/17/2020: The Molecular Foundry’s Spring Proposal Call deadline has been extended by three weeks to April 23. Accordingly, the review decisions will be communicated to users by June 5. All currently active proposals will be extended by one month. If the shutdown extends longer than currently planned, additional extensions will be granted.
3/16/2020: The Molecular Foundry is prepared for a “warm and safe” stand down of lab operations, effective March 17 and lasting until at least April 7. The lab site will remain powered and staffed by essential personnel.
Please go to status.lbl.gov for up-to-date information on the status of Berkeley Lab. See also the updates from our Strategic Communications team.
A summary of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 research at Berkeley Lab, including at the Molecular Foundry, can be found here.
For press inquiries, please contact [email protected].