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Undergraduate Research in the Virtual Environment

Resources and FAQs

This page provides information and guidance related to undergraduate research at VT and resources/creative solutions for moving research to the virtual environment.

Undergraduate Research Policy

Virginia Tech Student Affairs and Office of Emergency Management have put together a 39-page plan for summer and fall operations to guide university officials as they move toward in-person learning during the fall semester. This plan was informed utilizing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health, Executive Order 72, and expertise within the university. Because of the dynamic nature of the pandemic and rapidly changing guidance from the CDC, Virginia Tech will continue to adjust university plans, procedures, and protocols as circumstances and federal and state guidance surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve.

Here are some highlights of the plan and current requirements related to undergraduate research during Summer 2021:

Summer Field and On-Campus Research Guidelines

  • All approved research (undergraduate/graduate) may be in person provided all appropriate approvals and protocols are in place.
  • Small research lab groups (10 or less) of fully vaccinated students, staff, and faculty may work together without distancing. Face coverings are recommended for fully vaccinated individuals when working indoors with others.
  • Non-vaccinated individuals and groups where vaccination status is not known or cannot be determined should continue to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing while working in the laboratory or during field research.

Read the May 18, 2021 VT News article highlighting Summer and Fall operational guidelines.

Updated COVID-19 IRB Guidance

Due to the change in COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the university, the Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board has reviewed and approved updated guidance for conducting human subjects research. The updated guidance details the requirements as of June 15, 2021.

The Office of Undergraduate Research is operating virtually and can be reached by email at  

Visit Virginia Tech's COVID-19 page for official communications from the university.

Can students still do undergraduate research, considering the COVID-19 situation?

Yes. Undergraduate research is currently available at VT, both in-person and virtually. Students will seek opportunities in the same manner as before, first investigating faculty working in research area(s) of interest to them and then reaching out to individual faculty to explore the availability of "space" on their projects, as outlined in our Getting Started guide. Students must be cognizant of the fact that indoor research spaces have limited physical capacity so faculty might need to prioritize who can be in those spaces and when.

Individual faculty have the flexibility to design or reimagine student research projects to be remote, as appropriate and practical. For example, students' research tasks could be shifted to working on an annotated bibliography, literature reviews, data analysis, etc.

In order to qualify as undergraduate research, students are required to present their research to a public forum. What options are available for them?

VT will host its annual spring symposium in April 2021. The format for this symposium is not currently known, but will likely be virtual. More information about the symposium and the registration form will be made available on the symposium webpage.

Regional and national disciplinary and undergraduate research conferences are moving online for the foreseeable future. Students are encouraged to seek out these opportunities to present their research. The OUR travel support program will cover expenses related to presenting at a virtual conference. Students can apply for funds throughout the year.

I was supposed to present my research at a national/regional conference but it got cancelled because of the Coronavirus. Can I still list the presentation on my resume and if so, how?

Yes. The fact that you were selected to present your research is important to recognize! Here is a possible format for posting your presentation information on your resume:

Presentation Title. Presentation Author(s). Abstract accepted for presentation at the name of conference, conference location, (2020). Note: This meeting was cancelled due to public health concerns related to COVID-19.

Read this article on How to Create an APA Style Reference for a Canceled Conference Presentation


Science 12 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6496, pp. 1190-1192
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc5599