August 2016

August 2016

Below is an overview of various department-related policies, reminders, and announcements for your consideration. The topics range from research appointments to travel policies and reimbursements. We strongly urge that you familiarize yourselves with the information that is listed below as there are some new policies in effect that could have adverse effects on you.

We will be implementing new online forms over the next few months, all of which will be communicated to you via email as they become available.

At the end of this message you will find a listing of our front office staff responsibilities to aid you in determining proper administrative support.

We would also like to kindly remind everyone that over the next 3+ months the office will be severely understaffed. Please be patient with your requests when working with members of the front office staff. While everyone will strive to maintain the same turnaround time to which you have become accustomed, there may be some delays. All staff will communicate these delays to you so that you can plan accordingly.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to any one of us for assistance.

Thank you!

Appointments – Hiring Researchers & Visitors (for Faculty)
Facilities and Room Key Distribution
Payroll – Undergraduate and Graduate (for Faculty and Staff)
Proposals (for Faculty)
Reimbursement Policy
Time-Off Requests (for Staff & Researchers)
Front Staff Responsibilities

Appointments – Hiring Researchers and Visitors (for Faculty)

  • Early notification
    • Please contact Sara as soon as you are thinking of hiring a researcher or appointing a visitor to join your research program.
  • Visa considerations
    • All appointments that require J-visas will require at least 3 months’ notice.
    • All appointments that require an H1-B visa will require at least 6 months’ notice.
  • Salary requirements
    • There are new federal requirements that dictate minimum funding requirements for various research groups. Please speak with Sara prior to making any commitments to perspective employees.
  • Early departure
    • If anyone’s departure pre-dates the official appointment end date, you must notify Sara immediately. There are compliance requirements we must abide by and Sara must report information accordingly.
  • Documentation requirements are listed on the department website, For more detailed information, please be sure to speak with Sara directly.

Facilities and Room Key Distribution

  • All room requests should be submitted via email to Shaun Russell. Please review the room reservation guide to review room availability and request procedures:
  • Facilities and maintenance issues should be forwarded to Shaun or a member of the front office, if Shaun is unavailable.
  • Building and room access should be submitted via email to Shaun. If you simply come to the office or send someone to the office for access, you will be turned away.
  • Key distribution will be completed only once a supervisor confirms that an individual is working with him/her. Please fill out the Key Request Form to expedite the process:
  • Please refrain from moving desks/offices prior to consulting Shaun – we have been updating our room records and it is important that we know where everyone sits in the department.
  • All access requests will only be considered for members of the Physics community. This means that an individual must be an active student, staff, researcher, or faculty member with an appointment.
  • Swipe cards and keys must be forfeited upon your departure/termination from the department/University.

Payroll – Undergraduate and Graduate (for Faculty and Staff)

  • Any undergraduate student working for the department or a faculty member must speak with Anita prior to beginning work. Faculty do not have authority to allow students to begin work until their employment has been finalized by the Front Office.
  • Any graduate student working as an RA or TF must speak with Mirtha.
  • When requesting that a student work with you, please be sure to have accounting information available.

Proposals (for Faculty)

  • Please indicate your intent to submit a proposal to Anita as soon as you are able so that she may begin planning her schedule accordingly.
  • There will be a new proposal process in place effective 9/1. The official OSP notification is attached for your convenience. Please note that the CAS-mandated schedule is also included below (we must be mindful of the CAS deadlines).
    • Notification to OSP at least 10 business days in advance of proposal deadline.
    • Proposal documentation must be submitted to CAS at least 7 business days in advance of proposal deadline. OSP deadline is 5 business days prior to deadline.
    • Proposals requiring additional approvals beyond CAS Associate Dean Level will need to be submitted at least 10 business days in advance of proposal deadline.
    • Budgets and budget justifications must be FINAL upon circulation. The only allowance for a budget change will be if there is a mistake.
    • Final technical components should be submitted at least 3 business days in advance of proposal deadline. This will allow OSP ample time to review your document for any discrepancies and ensure it will be accepted by the sponsor.


  • A new online ordering form is now live and will be replacing the current paper form:
  • All order requests must be accompanied by a quote.
  • Please refrain from defaulting to Amazon if you can. The University has many contracted vendors whose services and goods are much more deeply discounted than what you can find on Amazon. A complete listing of these vendors can be found on our website:
  • All order requests should be accompanied by a brief justification (1-2 sentences). The justification should include the necessity of the purchase, how the item will be used, etc. Your order will not be placed without this justification.
  • Packing slips should be delivered to the office upon receipt of the item. If a packing slip is not available or illegible, please email the staff member who placed the order confirming the date that it was received.
  • The Travel Card should NOT be used to make research-related materials purchases. Expenses of this kind should be processed through the department.

Reimbursement Policy

  • Reimbursements should be submitted in a timely matter (no more than 30 days from the date the expense was incurred).
  • If you are incurring expenses on the department’s behalf, please be sure to communicate these expenses to the staff as soon as possible. You should NOT be holding receipts for a semester and submitting them at a later date as these have budgetary implications.
  • Any meeting expenses should be accompanied by a list of attendees and the appropriate affiliations.
  • All meal expenses should have an itemized receipt attached, not just the tip invoice.
  • Alcohol is an allowable expense when charging non-grant accounts. Students are not allowed to incur alcohol expenses, unless receiving prior approval from the department. Alcohol expenses need to be itemized for tracking purposes.
  • The Travel Card should NOT be used to make research-related materials purchases. Expenses of this kind should be processed through the department.

Time-Off Requests (for Staff & Researchers)

  • All time-off requests must be submitted via SAP through the ESS tab.
  • Staff and faculty supervisors must approve such requests in a timely manner. Please note that there is a system-generated email confirming that there is a request available for your review. If you need assistance in approving time-off requests, please speak with Despina.
  • Sara will send monthly emails to all users confirming their time off requests. If something is not reflected please let Sara know so that she may investigate further. If you have nothing to report, please confirm that with Sara as well.
  • Quarterly balances will be distributed to faculty for all researcher time-off.
  • Timely responses are very much appreciated.


  • Booking travel
    • Travel should be booked at least 14 days in advance to avoid excessive fees and/or higher costs due to lack of seat availability.
    • Make sure that your receipt indicates all of the booking details, including: dates of departure and return, airline carrier, flight number, total cost. Your receipt should also show proof of payment.
    • If you are extending your travel dates to include personal travel, be sure to obtain a quote for travel dates without the extension. You should obtain this quote on the same day that you book your trip. See a member of the front office for more information.
  • Allowable versus unallowable expenses
    • Per the BU Travel Policy, upgrades are not allowable on any account. You will only be reimbursed for base, economy-fare itineraries. The only exception is if economy fares are not available at the time of booking. If this is the case, please speak with a member of the front office before you book.
    • Baggage fees are allowable on any account.
    • In-flight Wi-Fi and hotel internet are allowable expenses as long as you certify that there was a need for such and it was directly related to your research or travel. Subscriptions are not allowed.
    • Alcohol is not allowed on grants. If you purchase alcohol during a meal you will not be reimbursed.
  • Things to remember when you’re away
    • Receipts are required for any expense over $25.
    • Meal receipts should be itemized with your entire purchase.
    • Keep your boarding passes.
    • If you are attending a conference, please be sure to keep your name badge and/or itinerary. This is required for your travel report.
  • Airfare carriers when traveling on grants
    • If you are traveling internationally, you must purchase your airfare on a US flag carrier. When purchasing the ticket, be sure that the airline code is that of a US airline.
    • The Open Skies Agreement allows for exceptions when traveling internationally to EU countries, Australia, Switzerland, and Japan. The exception is that you do not need to be on a US flag carrier when flying direct to the listed EU countries, Australia, Switzerland, and Japan. If you are traveling on DoD funds, the exception does not apply.
  • Travel reports that are submitted to Shaun or Solomon will be reviewed within 5 business days; additional time may be required if there are questions or more information is needed for your report. If there is some kind of urgency to have a report reviewed sooner, please indicate that at the time of submission.

Front Staff Responsibilities

  • Sara Amell, Administrative Assistant
    • Faculty and research appointments
    • Scheduling for Department Chair
  • Despina Bokios, Business Manager
    • Department and grant account management
    • Temporary employee hiring
    • Human resources
    • Oversees department staff and programs
  • Mirtha Cabello, Graduate Program Coordinator
    • Graduate program
    • Graduate student payments
    • TF assignments
    • Graduate student ISSO liaison
    • Graduate course scheduling
  • Courtney Clark, Undergraduate Program Coordinator
    • Undergraduate program
    • Transfer credits
    • Undergraduate Course scheduling
    • Advisor liaison
  • Anita Gupta, Grants Administrator
    • Grant account management
    • Undergraduate student hiring
    • Proposal preparation
  • Guoan Hu, Computer Resources Manager
    • Department technology needs
    • Equipment purchase consultant
  • Nancy Kostowski, Senior Accounts Technician
    • EDF/SIF billing
    • Print code setup
    • Phone inquiries, long distance code requests
  • Solomon Posner, Program Coordinator
    • Ordering and purchasing requests
    • Travel, travel reports and reimbursements for faculty and students
    • Website maintenance
    • Print and electronic media announcements
  • Shaun Russell, Administrative Coordinator
    • Facilities requests and information
    • Room assignments and key distribution
    • Event coordinator
    • Travel, travel reports and reimbursements for staff, researchers, and guests