Research security encompasses a variety of issues for university employees and researchers to consider as they conduct international research and collaboration. While both domestic and international research include a risk to proprietary research and trade secrets, international funding and collaborations also carry with them national security concerns. In January 2022, The president’s Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Eric Lander, deftly expressed the challenges to performing successful international collaborations while protecting national security:

“The research security challenges we face are real and serious: some foreign governments, including China’s government, are working hard to illicitly acquire our most advanced technologies. This is unacceptable.”

“At the same time, if our policies to address those actions significantly diminish our superpower of attracting global scientific talent — or if they fuel xenophobia against Asian Americans — we will have done more damage to ourselves than any competitor or adversary could. So we need a thoughtful and effective approach.”

The University Research Security Program Office invites you to join us in helping protect the equities of our institution. We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please feel free to message us at


Receiving International Funding for Resources

Export control should be consulted and outside interest disclosure forms need to be updated. Your research and finance offices will review for potential conflicts of interest. Failure to disclose outside activities is one of the primary reasons funded researchers find themselves audited by funding agencies.

The University of Tennessee’s conflicts of interest fiscal policy GE0002 requires all regular faculty and staff to disclose certain outside interests and activities. These disclosure requirements help prevent or minimize conflicts between an employee’s outside interests and his or her University responsibilities. Disclosure of outside activities, regardless of the organization, is essential to safeguarding both the standards and equities of the University and its employees.

According to GE0002, “The University holds itself to the highest scientific and ethical standards. University employees and researchers must have a unified commitment to honesty and transparency and demonstrate it by adhering to this policy. Determining whether an outside activity constitutes a potential, real, or perceived conflict is not the responsibility of a University employee or researcher, but of the University itself. Failure to disclose or manage outside activities may result in severe consequences that result in possible funding loss, research disqualification, work disruption, termination, and other penalties.”