UMass Boston

Dr Brook Moyers in Folger's Marsh collecting plant specimens.


Yvonne Vaillancourt is the year-round, in-residence Director of the Nantucket Field Station. Yvonne has been managing the field station since 2016, she is a biologist with 30 years of experience working for UMass Boston. Student interns assist the director in managing operations, activities, courses and research at the station. Hybrid interns visit year-round to assist in a range of long-term monitoring studies of biodiversity and zonation in the marsh, on the beach and in the water.


Nantucket Field Station offer credited university courses taught by UMass Boston professors or visiting investigators. We rotate immersive field courses every two or three years. We have many researchers from other educational institutions and agencies here to conduct research, on a group field trip or both. Courses, research and scholarly activity span disciplines. 


Luis DeLeon Reyna

Dr Luis DeLeon Reyna teaches field ornithology early in the summer. Luis is an associate professor in the Biology Department at UMass Boston. He is an evolutionary biologist with interests in how anthropogenic disturbances and global change could affect evolutionary processes in natural populations. 

Dr Luis DeLeon Reyna

Elizabeth Boyle

Dr. Elizabeth Boyle teaches Marine and Coastal Ecological Research Methods every other summer on Nantucket. Her PhD is in Coastal Marine Ecology & Salt Marsh Biology. Beth is the Director of the Academic Achievement Service Center at UMass Boston, School for the Environment. 

John Dobyns

John Dobyns joins us from St. Norbert College and teaches the Spiders of Nantucket every other summer on Nantucket. John and his students collect and identify vast numbers of spiders from a variety of habitats on Nantucket. Frequently contributing new names to the species list and samples held at Maria Mitchell Association's Natural History Museum on Nantucket. 

Roberta Wollons

Dr Roberta Wollons is a professor of history at UMass Boston and teaches This Land is Your Land, a course on the environmental movement through the lens of the Cape and Islands. She also teaches the Whaling Women of Nantucket. Professor Wollons' research specializations are in American Progressive Era history, women's history, and the history of education.

Roberta Wollons

Stephanie Wood

Dr Stephanie Wood is a research assistant professor in the School for the Environment and instructor of Biology for the Biology Department at UMass Boston. Stephanie's expertise is on gray seal biology and she teaches our marine mammal biology course and a pinnipeds field trip course.

Mark Borrelli

Dr Mark Borrelli is a research fellow at UMass Boston, he runs multiple laboratories including one at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. Mark's specialty is Coastal Geology; Non-Cohesive Sediment Transport; Seafloor Mapping. He teaches our Coastal Mapping and Coastal Geology courses on Nantucket. 

Mark Borrelli

Station Research

Invasive Marine Species Monitoring

The UMass Boston Nantucket field station staff monitor floating docks and cobble beach for invasive marine species as part of the Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC) program for the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management who is responsible for establishing the protocol. 


Explore Invasive Marine Species

Eelgrass Research

Eelgrass meadows are home to an assemblage of fish and invertebrates who rely on the persistence of this habitat and its health, particularly important to Nantucket, both economically and culturally, is the bay scallop, Argopecten irradians. Nantucket field station interns record percent cover, take plant measurements, record community species, and predation pressure of near shore eelgrass beds at three locations around the island following protocols established by MarineGeo. 


Microplastic on Nantucket

Juanita Urban-Rich, UMass Boston School for the Environment, working with the Nantucket Field Station has established Nantucket's microplastics baseline from samples collected between 2019 and 2022. This exciting project is funded by ReMain Nantucket and a collaborative effort between the Nantucket Field Station, the Department of Public Works and the Nantucket Health Department. Continuation of this project into year two is funded by the Nantucket Land Council.

UMB microplastic studies

Seal Research

Marine Mammal Biology instructor and researcher, Stephanie Wood continues with many of her peers to study the grey seal population on Nantucket.

Stephanie has extensive seal research experience including aerial surveying and image processing, live animal captures and sampling, food habits and observational work. In addition to teaching and researching on Nantucket, Stephanie also conducts surveys of the Boston Harbor Islands. 

Every winter a team of gray seal researchers comes to Nantucket to study the growing population on Great Point as well as Muskeget. This collaborative team is made up of researchers from a number of institutions and agencies. 

Safe Seal Viewing Guidelines: Always stay 150ft (45m) away from seals. Moving towards the water, lifting their heads up (head alert), barking and yawning are signs that seals are stressed. If you see these behaviors please depart the area slowly.

Learn About Gray Seals

Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative

The Nantucket Field Station is a founding and active member of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative, a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, government agencies, businesses and individuals. The mission of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative (NBI) is to conserve the native biodiversity of Nantucket through collaborative research, monitoring and education. 

The Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative (NBI) funds a wide range of projects that support biodiversity research on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts and the surrounding offshore waters. 

Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative Group photo.


Explore NBI grants, conferences and events.