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New international research appointments to be suspended until October | New


The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has announced that new international research meetings will not be offered until October 1, 2020 in an update to the newsletter sent to SEAS affiliates on Thursday.

The announcement comes in light of the closings of US consular offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The update cited uncertainty surrounding the timing of reopening consular offices and the processing of visa applications as a reason to delay international search appointments.

According to the SEAS website, approximately 70% of SEAS hires and academic appointments are foreign nationals. International SEAS appointments and hires generally coordinate with the Harvard International office to obtain visas and appropriate documentation to work in the United States.

Ke Li, a postdoctoral fellow in environmental science and engineering, wrote in an emailed release that he was surprised to hear the announcement. He wrote that while the announcement will not affect current international researchers at Harvard, including himself, it will discourage future post-docs and international students from coming to Harvard.

Li added that while he doesn’t know exactly what impact the update will have on SEAS and Harvard research, he predicts it won’t be marginal.

Li wrote that he knew several colleagues who will now have to wait to pursue research opportunities due to the uncertainty surrounding visa applications.

Some of my friends who have been offered postdoctoral research or visiting students should hold their breath because they don’t know when the visa application will be reopened, Li wrote.

Tianguang Lu, a SEAS postdoctoral fellow and another current international researcher, explained that even if this announcement would not affect his own research, future visiting students and academics could lose the chance to conduct research abroad at Harvard.

If Harvard delays appointments, they may have to choose another option because they have funding limits on their schedule, said Lu. Most of the invited students, for example, choose to go abroad because they have one or two years left to graduate. If they can’t do it now, they may never have this experience, so they can choose another option.

Lu said he doesn’t know at the moment how this announcement could affect the entire Harvard research community.

The SEAS University Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment.

In the newsletter, SEAS Communications provided a link where Harvard affiliates can submit questions regarding COVID-19. Representatives from SEAS and the FAS Science Division answer these questions daily.

The newsletter also encouraged SEAS affiliates to contact the Office of Faculty Affairs with any questions regarding the announcement of an international research appointment.

Editor Brie K. Buchanan can be contacted at [email protected].

Editor-in-chief Elizabeth X. Guo can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @elizabethxguo.

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