Biotechnology at MassBay

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Twice a year, faculty and students from the Biotechnology programs travel to Montserrat, a small island in the Caribbean Sea. After the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted in 1990s and subsequent pyroclastic flows rendered two-thirds of the island uninhabitable, Montserrat offers an excellent opportunity for scientific inquiry. Along with students from other community colleges, we study the local organisms and the effects of volcanic activity on the coral reefs surrounding the island.


Students certified in SCUBA dive, explore, and assess the reefs; we also hike through the forests and Exclusion Zone to learn more about the island’s ecosystems. During our most recent trip, we studied anole lizards with a herpetologist from Harvard University and performed reef checks with colleagues from Finger Lakes Community College. With assistance from the Montserrat Royal Police, we explored the ruins of Montserrat’s former capital city of Plymouth, known as a “modern-day Pompeii” after being buried by the volcano.