This study focuses on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and scholarship at a research university in the United States. Building on studies in higher education policy, we conceptualized the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘wicked problem’ that is complex, nonlinear, unique, and requiring urgent solutions. Wicked problems highlight pre-existing struggles, and therefore, recent challenges in higher education inform the methods and the findings of this study. Qualitative and quantitative survey data from 408 faculty, staff, and students explicate the reasons for reduced research output and adaptations made for increased or sustained productivity, health, and wellness that influenced research activities. The analysis showed that most respondents experienced reduced productivity mostly due to increased work responsibilities, limited access to research fields, and inadequate resources. Despite self-reported reduced productivity, participants from the University we studied experienced increases in funding during the pandemic. Thus, the findings also reported on the adaptations for sustained or increased productivity. These included new research pursuits, participation in conference and learning opportunities across geographic regions, and purchase of computer equipment/accessories for home offices. A small percentage of respondents mentioned improved health and well-being; however, many linked reduced research activities to health and well-being issues such as anxiety and fear about the pandemic and being overwhelmed due to work and home-life expectations. Knowledge of the challenges and opportunities presented within the first year of the pandemic can provide a basis for solutions to wicked problems higher education may face in the future.