CAMB's Coronavirus Response and Operation Changes

Due to the university’s current guidelines regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), CAMB has developed, and will update continually, detailed information and resources for the following CAMB-wide topics, located centrally on this webpage:

CoursesRotations | Preliminary Exams | Thesis Level Research | Thesis Committee Meetings | Thesis Defenses

For additional resources, please refer to:

For Penn and PSOM announcements, please refer to:

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Dan Kessler, Craig Bassing, the CAMB Coordinators, and/or the Program Chairs. Their contact information can be found on the CAMB Administration page.

To anonymously report COVID-19 compliance violations, please call 215-P-COMPLY or make an online report. If you are in a CHOP lab, please call 866-246-7456 or make an online report using "CHOP" as the access ID.

Information last modified June 11 2020 @ 8:50 AM EST


A number of CAMB courses, normally scheduled for the Fall, will be offered this Summer. Please see the 2020 Summer Course List for which courses are being offered. Course descriptions, including updated syllabi, can be found on the CAMB Courses webpage.

We encourage you to consider taking one or more courses this summer. Doing so will allow you to fulfill academic requirements now, during the research hiatus, and this may potentially free up additional time to engage in laboratory research once the labs reopen. Please discuss this option with your Program Chair before making a decision. If you would like to register for one of these courses, please contact Kathy O’Connor-Cooley.

If Faculty have any issues or need any assistance with their courses, they are encouraged to reach out to Kathy O’Connor-Cooley. Faculty should also refer to our Resources for Faculty Course Directors page.


Upon completion of the independent study which replaced the March 30th to June 12th rotation, your faculty mentor will submit an evaluation and a grade.

The next steps will vary on a student by student basis, and must occur in close consultation with your program chair and faculty advisors. Students who feel confidently can choose a thesis lab from their first two rotations or their independent study. These students should work closely with their PI(s) to begin their pre-dissertation research in a format allowable by university and lab guidelines. Students who would like more time to choose a thesis lab will be able to conduct either a lab rotation or another independent study, whichever is allowable given their research field and that lab’s current operations. All decisions should be forwarded to your CAMB coordinator for record keeping.

Under Phase 1 of Penn's Research Resumption plan, no student has to come to campus. It must be a voluntary decision, and you would need to “opt-in”. More information can be found in the Thesis Level Research section.

Preliminary Exams

The preliminary exams will be held remotely via BlueJeans. Students may distribute a one page PDF with figures in advance to their committee.  For the presentation students are allowed 5 PowerPoint slides for text and graphics.  Students will be able to present for at least 10 minutes without interruption from the committee. To address questions from the committee the student may use the whiteboard feature on BlueJeans, use an app such as, or draw pictures during the exam for display on the camera. Additional information regarding schedule and moderation procedures will be provided via email from your coordinators.

Thesis Level Research

As of May 13 2020, Penn released a Research Resumption Strategy Master Plan. This plan defines three phases for the resumption of research activities on campus.

Phase 1 of Research Resumption began June 8 2020. During Phase 1, graduate students are allowed to voluntarily return to work on campus. In order to do so, you will need to "opt-in". Opting-in does not permanently obligate you to return to campus. If you elect to opt-in and change your mind at a future date for any reason, you should contact the BGS office directly to record this change. To opt-in, you must:

  • Complete the Knowledge Link Opt In Certification here
  • If you have trouble getting the link to work, you should try using another browser or refer to this guide
  • You may also access the opt-in certification by logging in to Knowledge Link and entering “COVID-19 Opt-in Certification” in the Find Learning search function.

If you were already working on campus because you were a designated “Essential Person”, you still must opt-in to continue working from June 8 on as part of Phase 1 Re-entry.

Please discuss lab activities and expectations with your PI in order to make an informed decision about opting-in. If you have concerns about the planning process or would like additional input, please each out to Dan, Craig, your program chair, your thesis committee, the BGS leadership, or the EVDCSO Office. To anonymously report COVID-19 compliance violations, please call 215-P-COMPLY or make an online report. If you are in a CHOP lab, please call 866-246-7456 or make an online report using "CHOP" as the access ID.

Thesis Committee Meetings

Until further notice, all thesis committee meetings will be held virtually through BlueJeans or a similar format. BlueJeans is recommended and supported by the University and PSOM. Please see our detailed instructions for setting up and starting a BlueJeans meeting. Plan for the usual 2 hour time block. We recommend doing a trial run beforehand to become familiar with the Whiteboard and Annotation App functions, which may be helpful while giving your PowerPoint presentations. Please reach out to your coordinator if you would like help with any aspect of setting up the virtual meeting.

Thesis Committee Chairs should schedule the student-only and mentor-only discussions prior to the scheduled thesis committee meeting.

Thesis Defenses

Until further notice, all thesis defenses will be held virtually on BlueJeans. Students with an upcoming thesis defense please contact the CAMB office. The student's thesis defense presentation will still be public, and will be recorded for the student to share later. The detailed process can be found on our Virtual Thesis Defense page. Please also refer to the BlueJeans Best Practices to help prepare.

Students aiming to deposit and graduate this August, please see the Dissertation Defense and Deposit Instructions for Spring and Summer Semester 2020 from the Graduate Division office.