UMass Boston

Marine biologists looking as squid eggs found on the beach.

NFS Research


A major asset of the Nantucket Field Station for scientific research is the Island's distinctive conditions and natural resources.

  • Juanita Urban-Rich (UMass Boston School for the Environment) working with the Nantucket Field Station will be establishing 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.
  • The Nantucket Shellfish Association has funded the Nantucket Field Station's pilot project to evaluate a method we wish to use to estimate the proportion of scallops harvested coming from the hatchery enhancement using LA-ICP- MS (Laser Ablation Induced Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy). 
  • Stephanie Wood continues with many of her peers to study the grey seal population which is now not only pupping on Muskeget Island but on Great Point as well. 
  • Salicornia from Nantucket represents the pristine sites in the work that Alice Palmer is doing in the Moyers lab.
  • One major area of research based from the Field Station is the study of emerging diseases of significance to U.S. public health. Nantucket is a national hot spot for Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have been examining the relationship of these three diseases with tick, mouse and deer populations on the Island since 1978.
  • Derek Lovely (UMass Amherst Environmental Biotechnology Center) Geobactor Project is uniquely served by the close location of freshwater and saltwater sediments here at the Nantucket Field Station. This award-winning, well-funded and exciting research illustrates the cutting edge research conducted at the NFS 
  • UMass Boston BIO - Rick Kesseli and Students study plant breeding systems:
    • hybridization, and polyploidy of the invasive plant Fallopia japonica (Japanese Knotweed) and Giant Knotweed Fallopia sachalinensis (Hybrid:Fallopia X bohemica
    • Dioecy in groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia)
    • Development And Characterization Of Comparative Anchor Tagged Sequences (CATS) For Comparative Genome Analysis In The Asteraceae
  • From 2007 to 2010, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Researchers placed tracking devices on Long-tailed ducks: read more here. 
  • Long-tailed duck tracking See the results

Another example of research based on Nantucket's uncommon resources is the gray seal population biology study by the College of the Atlantic ongoing since 1964. UMass Boston and other investigators use the Field Station for ornithology research, remote sensing of water quality parameters, population ecology, and sampling of coastal sediments. Many of Nantucket's coastal sediments serve as relatively pristine environments, when compared to other coastal sediments.

Student research has been a part of the Field Station for the past 30 years. A very successful student research-oriented course in Maritime Ecology Research is offered each summer. Students work on independent research projects, some with the help of local scientists from numerous local community and governmental groups.

  • Research projects conducted at the NFS in the last fifteen years
  • Research Strategic Plan NCF/UMass Boston Part 1
  • Research Strategic Plan NCF/UMass Boston Part 2
  • Student research projects from our Biology summer courses