Code of Conduct

The Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (VCR LTER) program is administered by the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences (EVSC) and hosted by the Department’s Coastal Research Center (CRC). Thus, project participants (researchers, students, and staff; hereafter ‘we’) agree to abide by the EVSC Code of Conduct.

The VCR LTER, centered at UVA’s Coastal Research Center in Oyster, VA, engages researchers from 11 institutions, who conduct research on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The CRC is composed of housing, field support, and laboratory and teaching facilities. We acknowledge that field environments pose unique challenges including 1) reduced independence (e.g. access to transportation), 2) distance from personal support networks at home, 3) unfamiliar cultural contexts, 4) long days with physically and mentally strenuous work, and 5) exposure to unfamiliar risks and potentially harsh environmental conditions. These challenges, and others inherent to field work, can pose significant barriers for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds (Demery & Pipkin 2021, Morales et al., 2020). We aim to foster an inclusive field environment by acknowledging these challenges and preparing our research teams to safely navigate them. The EVSC field safety planning tool can be used to help research groups communicate and plan for these challenges. A version of this tool already populated for the CRC and LTER is provided here; additional sections (highlighted in yellow) should be discussed and completed by individual research groups.

While based at the CRC, work and personal spaces overlap. Toward the mutual goal of creating a field and station environment that supports both science and scientists, we are committed to

  1. respecting the privacy of our colleagues during station stays,
  2. checking in frequently with field crews and promoting responsible behavior to ensure the
    wellbeing of everyone during research,
  3. holding each other accountable to ensure that personal relationships do not negatively
    impact others’ experiences within our professional work environment,
  4. abiding by the UVA drug and alcohol policies, including that alcohol use is not allowed
    for individuals under 21; individuals over 21 are not permitted to be intoxicated and are
    not permitted to drink while working; and alcohol is permitted only in residential areas.
    Alcohol is prohibited in the laboratory and on the dock.
  5. intervening or reporting when we witness exclusionary or harmful behavior, or activities
    that do not follow the above guidelines.

Resources and Reporting

Concerns are welcome and are treated seriously. Our goal is to address any inappropriate behavior to prevent it from rising to the level of legal violations that would need to be investigated by the University of Virginia. To discuss any concern or violation of the Code of Conduct, contact CRC Site Director Dr. Cora Baird* (757) 620-7016,, or in person.

Incidents that violate University policies (i.e. harassment, discrimination, bias, etc) should be reported to the institutions whose people or spaces were involved. If you are uncertain which resources or reporting system(s) are relevant, you are encouraged to contact the CRC Site Director* or the confidential sources (below) for guidance.

After an incident occurs on site or in the field, any individual can reach out to the CRC Site Director, Cora Baird, or (757) 620-7016 for help filing a report. Your PI (faculty research mentor) is another good point of contact for reporting incidents. Alternatively, you may contact anyone you feel comfortable with from the list below:

  1. Sarah Karpanty (VT, PI),, (540) 231-4586
  2. Tyler Barnes (UVA, grad student),, (858) 449-8764
  3. Jess Liu (GW, staff),, (804) 665-8485

The duties of these report recipients are 1) to listen to and respect any concerns that are brought up, promptly connect the reporter to support resources, remind an offender of the Code of Conduct expectations (if appropriate), and follow up with the target to share outcomes, 2) to judge whether the incident warrants formal reporting to participating institutions or legal authorities and initiate the formal process if needed, while protecting the target’s identity within the VCR community, and 3) determine an appropriate follow-up timeline for the incident in collaboration with the reporting individual. Additionally, the recipient should fill out this reporting form to document the incident.

If an incident occurs on site, immediate action will be taken to separate the targeted person(s) from the potential offender(s). If necessary, the local legal authorities will be notified. 

Please note that Responsible Employees at UVA have an obligation to report certain incidents to the University’s Title IX Coordinator. Visit this link to determine if you are a Responsible Employee and this link to learn more about the responsibilities. It is likely that the many other VCR LTER institutions have similar policies to UVA; you are encouraged to do your own research to understand your role as a potential mandated reporter.

Any project member or visitor from any institution can report incidents through the following avenues at UVA:

For confidential counseling and guidance (you choose whether or not to formally report), you may contact 

  • or (434) 298-2361
  • or (434) 924-7819

Individuals in crisis while on the Shore can call the Eastern Shore Community Services Board Emergency Services call center at (757) 442-7707

To report an incident of misconduct, you may

  • Contact anyone from VCR LTER listed above for help filing a report.
  • Use the File a Complaint button on You will be asked to choose from a drop down menu of UVA, non-UVA affiliated, and third party complaints.
  • Call the UVA Compliance Helpline (800) 235-8700 or use the helpline complaint form, which gives you the option to log in through UVA NetBadge or simply type in your name and contact information.

More reporting resources and guidance
Virginia Tech
Boston University
Randolph College

Resolution & Consequences
We will work to promptly establish resolutions to emerging issues and to report violations when they occur. Failure to uphold the expectations laid out in the Code of Conduct may result in lost or reduced access to our research facilities and project resources. Formal reports are addressed by the University, with outcomes described in the reporting resources.

The Site Director and LTER lead PI will debrief seasonally or quarterly for an overview of any issues or concerns that arose, to ensure that both are aware of emerging patterns or concerns that need to be addressed. The Site Director will consult with the lead PI within 1 week of receiving any complaint for which a direct resolution or prompt solution cannot be found. Formal complaints filed with the University will only be shared as an anonymized summary. If the involvement of leadership in a complaint creates a conflict of interest, the UVA Ombuds should be contacted for help with reporting and resolutions.

*Indicates mandatory reporters – individuals who are obligated to report incidents of harassment,descrimination, and similar to the University of Virginia.