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Phase III+: The University is open for expanded research operations; only authorized personnel will be admitted on campus. More info here.

This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from the Office of the President on July 10, 2020 at 8:35 a.m.
Subject: Update from the President

Oop header 7-10-20

Dear colleagues,

I hope everyone had a relaxing and restful Fourth of July weekend. Summer has descended in full force this week, with hot, muggy weather that has most of us retreating indoors to the comfort of air conditioning. At Rockefeller, the next several weeks are the most energy-intensive of the year, and our Plant Ops personnel are working to balance comfort with efficiency, ensuring that occupied spaces remain cool while avoiding unnecessary waste in vacant areas.

On Monday, we successfully transitioned to Phase III of our reopening, and most research activities are now permitted on campus as long as social distancing and mask wearing continue to be practiced. The Bass Dining Commons is now open for take-out (online pre-orders required), and Great Performances has maintained an impressive variety of options despite the additional labor required to process and pre-package all orders. The CFC is also preparing for a phased reopening beginning next week and gradually expanding in the weeks to follow.

While Phase III may feel more like a return to normal, it is important to keep our guard up and avoid the tendency to relax about distancing and hygiene. Masks continue to be required everywhere on campus except in private single-occupancy offices, with the door closed, and while eating in designated break areas. The safest place to take a lunch break is outdoors, and I encourage everyone to use the Wang Gardens, the lower amphitheater, and the Philosophers Garden for this purpose. In inclement weather those who live on or near campus should consider returning home for lunch.

As the daily on-campus population climbs, the Research Restart Committee has been addressing campus-wide commuting needs. To help accommodate those who own vehicles and wish to drive, a lottery system for limited campus parking spaces has been implemented. In addition, the University has initiated a voluntary program to issue N95 masks to employees who wish to use them for commuting via subway, train, bus, or ferry. Please check with your lab head or department/unit leadership for more information on these offerings.

It is notable that NYC continues to have very low levels of new infection in all boroughs (only 1.0% of all tests for virus were positive among more than 26,000 tests on Wednesday), along with levels of hospitalization and deaths that are at their lowest levels since mid-March. This provides strong support for what we collectively are doing to prevent spread of the virus, and encouragement to keep driving the rates of new infection toward zero.

With the input of groups and individuals across campus, we continue to address the actions to promote diversity and inclusion announced in June, and I remain firmly committed to the long-term success of these plans. Several items were discussed this week at Academic Council, including how we evaluate mentorship practices, expand relationships with minority-serving institutions, and identify speaking opportunities by external scientists from underrepresented groups. These were constructive conversations, and I will continue to share our progress.

This week we also received terrific news about the impact of our science on the global stage. On Wednesday the 2020 Leiden Ranking was released, and Rockefeller was again ranked first in the world for the percentage of our scientific publications that are in the top 10% and top 1% of the most cited papers in their fields. Thirty-three percent of our studies were in the top 10% of the most cited papers, followed by MIT with 24.5% and Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard rounding out the top five. And 5.5% of our scientific publications were among the top 1% of the most cited papers, compared to 4.3% for MIT, followed by Shandong University, Stanford, and Harvard. These results are just one marker of the outsized impact of research in our laboratories.

Lastly, as we ease into the heart of the summer, my e-mail updates will be moving to an every-other-week frequency. I will continue to keep you abreast of COVID-19 news and other University developments, with additional communications as warranted.

With all best wishes,


Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
Carson Family Professor
Laboratory of Human Genetics and Genomics
The Rockefeller University