University of Massachusetts Boston Field Station

Nantucket Field Station

Summer Marine Biology/Ecology Courses at the UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station

Each summer the Biology Department offers two three-credit courses in Marine Biology and occasionally a three-credit course in Ornithology at the UMass Boston Grace Grossman Environmental Center (Nantucket Field Station) at Quaise, on Nantucket Island. A biologist's paradise, the station's property consists of a pristine 45-acre salt marsh, several freshwater ponds, and a half-mile of private beach and dunes on Nantucket Harbor. The field station features a rich and diverse population of marine and coastal life and serves as a wildlife refuge. The station also embraces upland habitat, including a blueberry forest, and is within easy walking distance of rare heathlands preserved by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.

Nantucket Summer 2016

Biology 100: Coastal Ecology* (August 1 - August 14)
Three-credit UMass Boston Gen-Ed Course. An introduction to the biology of coastal habitats. It will serve as an introduction to field research methods and will familiarize the students with the flora and fauna of this unique island. Lectures are complemented by specimen collection, field observation and laboratory work. For more information on this course, contact

*The tuition for the Biology 100 in 2010 was $1,200. This included housing, laboratory, and registration fees. Students provided transportation to and from the field station and supplied their own food.

Biology 306: Marine & Coastal Ecological Research* (July 18 - July 31)
Course Description: Supervised research on the adaptations and interactions of organisms of the beaches, salt marshes, sand dunes, and embayments of Nantucket.

Goals: For students to become familiar with field research in marine environments, become familiar with several marine habitats and the organisms that inhabit them, to learn how to collect and analyze data and to develop and test hypotheses from their observations. In the first week, students will participate in directed field surveys and experiments to become familiar with the marine environment and some common techniques used to research it. In the second week, they will individually design and execute experiments to test hypotheses based on observations from one of the projects from the first week.

Lab credit can be arranged. 500-level credit is possible.

For more information on this course, contact

*The tuition for the Biology 306 in 2010 was $1,250. This included housing, laboratory and registration fees. Students provided transportation to and from the field station and supplied their own food.

Both courses are intensive, meeting five days a week for at least six hours a day. Students conduct hands-on field work in a variety of coastal and marine habitats. Small class sizes mean frequent contact with instructors, Station staff, and visiting researchers.

The third course in the program (not available in 2010) is Biol 280: Introduction to Ornithology*, a field-based study of the ecology, behavior, and evolutionary relationships of birds. Live-trapped wild birds will be examined for plumage, molt, general morphology, and physiological state.

Station facilities include a small well-equipped laboratory and comprehensive field equipment. Course participants share a bunkhouse building on the property, prepare their own meals in a community kitchen, and attend classes in a comfortable classroom with pond and harbor views.

The Nantucket Field Station of the University of Massachusetts Boston, located on 115 acres on Nantucket Island and four miles from Nantucket town, fronts on the shallow coastal waters of Nantucket Harbor and encompasses a pristine 45-acre salt marsh, a fresh water pond, an extensive marsh and swamp, upland scrub transacted by walking paths, is within walking distance of rare upland heath habitat, and an eelgrass community,just off the Station's beach. The harbor is rich with finfish, shellfish, marine invertebrates, making it ideal for snorkeling. The birding is superlative: raptors, waders, shorebirds, and ducks abound! The field station is home to whitetail deer, cottontail rabbits, mice, voles, snakes, and turtles for all to enjoy! For more information about The Nantucket Field Station, visit the field station's webpage.

For specific questions about the Marine Biology courses, contact Gregory Beck, the Biology Department's Field Station Coordinator, at 617.287.6619

For specific questions about enrollments, cost or credit issues, contact Wanda Willard, Summer Course Coordinator for the College of Advancing and Professional Studies at 617.287.7913.

For additional course information, contact Elizabeth Boyle at 617.287.4756 or

For specific information about the Nantucket Field Station, contact Yvonne Vaillancourt, Director of the Field Station, at 508.228.5268 or

Giving to UMass Boston

Support coastal and environmental research with a gift to the Friends of Nantucket Field Station.