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Research Space

Wet Lab Research Space Allocation Guidelines

Wet and dry lab research space assignments are made by the SVPHS Research Unit, under the direction of the associate dean for research and infrastructure, and are subject to the priorities and strategic direction of the institution. Space assignments are reviewed annually and may be adjusted to align with institutionally determined dollar density benchmarks, as described below.

Department/Program Benchmark

Wet Lab Space Benchmark

The wet lab benchmark is $300 (directs+indirects)/SF, the benchmark approximately translates to 1,000 SF per R01 equivalent inclusive of individually assigned wet-lab laboratory space, faculty and research staff private and shared office space, shared equipment and storage rooms, and tissue culture rooms. (Estimated breakdown includes 600 SF of wet-lab space, 300 SF of support space, 100 SF of office space.)

Dry Lab Space Benchmark

The initial benchmark for dry-lab research space is $600/SF, inclusive of faculty and staff private office space, dedicated cubicle space, and dedicated conference areas. (Estimated breakdown includes 100 SF of private faculty office space, 100 SF of shared office space, 300 SF of cubicle space). The $600/SF metric will be evaluated over the next three years, because the implications of COVID for long-term space needs will need to be factored into the overall assessment.

Importantly, wet and dry lab space is not interchangeable. The more specialized the costly requirements of wet lab research require that space that can be used for wet lab research (including associated offices etc.) should be used for that purpose.

  • The $300 SF and $600 SF benchmark are based on extramural direct and indirect project expenditures, minus subcontracts, averaged over three years.
  • Extramural expenditure and submitted grants data are obtained from the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis and the Office of Sponsored Projects, respectively.
  • See the full space metrics policy. 

Principles for Implementation of the Wet Lab Research Space Allocation Guidelines

  • Departments chairs will be provided with their departmental dollar density average on an annual basis, as part of their research dashboard. When requested, individual investigator backup information will be provided, including research grant expenditures and net assigned square footage per investigator. It is the responsibility of department/program heads and investigators to notify the space planning office of any changes to their research space assignments.
  • Junior investigators are exempt from dollar density evaluation during the first 3 years after faculty appointment.
  • Additional factors, including type of research, number of FTEs, number of graduate students, and scholarly productivity may also be considered when evaluating space assignments.
  • When requests for new wet and dry lab space are submitted by a department, the departmental dollar density average will be reviewed to determine if space utilization justifies the assignment of additional space.

Assignment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for space

  • All investigators occupying health sciences space will be asked to sign a MOU regarding their space assignment. This creates a common understanding of space boundaries and use. Space assignments and MOUs will be periodically reviewed and updated in accordance with dollar density metrics.

Process for requesting space or changes to current space assignment

  • To request space, please complete this form and return to Ribana Milas (
  • All space requests must be submitted by the department chair and/or division chief
  • Once the request has been received, if additional information is required Ribana will contact the requestor to gather additional information
  • Space request approval is required for all new recruits. Before an offer letter is sent to the candidate, proposed space assignment must be approved by the SVPHS Research Unit’s Associate Dean for Research and Infrastructure

Frequently asked Questions and Answers

  1. Who can request space?
    • Only requests received from the department chair and/or division chief will be considered.
  2. If I am reassigned and moved to another space, what happens to my previous space assignment?
    • In case of a faculty departure or lab move, the previously assigned space is reverted to the ownership by the SVPHS Research Unit.
  3. There is a vacant space near me, can I use it?
    • In most cases, vacant space is not available space. This may be space that has been assigned to future incoming recruits or is designated for future renovation. All use of space must be approved by the SVP office. Anyone found to be occupying space that has not been formally assigned to them will be asked to vacate the space immediately at their own expense.
  4. How long does the space request take to approve?
    • This varies by multiple factors. If all the necessary information is received then it should only be a couple of days. If additional information is required, then it could be two or more weeks.
  5. What is the maximum amount of space an investigator can be assigned?
    • Research space assigned to an individual faculty member should not exceed 2,500 square feet, inclusive of dedicated lab space, faculty and research staff office space, shared equipment and storage rooms, and tissue culture rooms.
  6. Am I allowed to make improvements or structural changes to my assigned space?
    • All significant changes in the use of space must be approved by the SVPHS Research Unit prior to work commencing. Unless explicitly agreed to in advance by the SVPHS Research Unit, all changes will be the financial and administrative responsibility of the requesting investigator. If changes are made to existing space without the knowledge and approval of the SVPHS Research Unit, the investigator may be asked to return the space to its prior condition at their own expense. 


Guidelines and Best Practices for Ultra Low Temperature Freezers

Ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers are critical to supporting research at our institution. These guidelines are intended to help laboratories in managing their freezers to achieve the best performance and efficiency. As a reminder, the University of Utah requires preventative maintenance for all temperature controlled units, in order to keep your unit functioning properly and to protect your research materials. 

For more information and full guidelines please see the full Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) Freezer Guidelines.