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Meet the Penikese Team


Kimberly Ulmer

Executive Director

Kimberly is a scientist, educator, and all around hydrophile. She has a passion for science education and outreach and she is committed to cultivating the next generation of environmental stewards.


Her years of experience in both formal and informal science education as well as nine years of research experience in the varying fields of genetics, neuroscience, and marine biology have enabled her to be an effective and innovative science educator. Kimberly taught Biology, Aquaculture, and AP Environmental Science at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA, where she also coached the sailing team. She taught a course on Marine Science and Sustainability at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School as part of her role as the Director of Sustainability for Sail Martha's Vineyard. More informally, Kimberly has taught marine biology at the Woods Hole Children's School of Science, biological illustration at the Falmouth Academy Summer Program, and K-6 environmental lessons with Habitat Kids on Martha's Vineyard.


Kimberly believes everyone learns best through direct experience and hands-on activities. In addition to doing lab based research at the University of California Santa Barbara, Brown University, and the Marine Biological Laboratory, Kimberly has spent time doing research at sea aboard larger sailing vessels. She sailed aboard the 95' research vessel Sorcerer II, sailing from Panama to Bermuda during their second global ocean sampling expedition, sequencing sea water to search for novel organisms and novel genes. She also spent two weeks aboard Sea Education Association's 134' SSV Corwith Cramer, studying ocean plastics.

Kimberly is a USCG 50-ton licensed captain, but her favorite powerboat is her 15' wooden tugboat. You can usually find Kimberly with her chocolate lab, Yanmar, and if they aren't on the water, they are likely both dreaming about it.


Kendra Buresch

Island Educator and Science Coordinator for Camp

Kendra is a biologist with over 20 years of experience working in the field. She has spent sixteen years at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole studying cephalopod behavior, sensory perception and camouflage (with a focus on octopus and cuttlefish). Outside of cephalopods, she is also keenly interested in birds and bats.


Kendra attended graduate school at The University of New Hampshire, and for her master’s research she investigated habitats and migratory patterns of northern long-eared bats. From time to time she can be seen out in the field helping out with bat research on Martha’s Vineyard. After graduate school, Kendra worked as a field ecologist for the Martha’s Vineyard office of The Nature Conservancy where she honed her skills as a naturalist. 


Kendra is also passionate about engaging girls and young women in the sciences, as well as teaching children to be stewards of the environment. She spent several years as an environmental educator on MV, teaching children about their local landscape and helping them to participate in habitat stewardship and conservation. 


Kendra lives on the Vineyard with her husband, two children, and three cats. She has always had a fascination with the Elizabeth Islands, and Penikese in particular. She is 

particularly interested in the birds that call Penikese their home for the summer. 


Elliott Bennet

Island Educator and School Trip Coordinator

Elliott Bennett is a long time resident of Martha’s Vineyard who has been involved in science education for 35 years.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Botany and Zoology and has a Masters in the Science of Education, specifically in Curriculum Design and Development. 


Elliott started her career in teaching with nonprofits and creating experiential science curriculum for middle and high school science students. She has travelled with science students to Costa Rica, Bahamas, Bermuda and throughout the Northeastern Coast. 


As a classroom teacher, Elliott has taught Biology, Marine Biology, AP Environmental Science, and Island Natural History. She has also served as the Science Department Head and Assistant Principal at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.  


Elliott’s passion is having adventures while exploring the ocean, hiking forests, skiing mountains and reading a good book. She believes that all children can learn in the right environment, one that includes kindness and science.


Simon Miner

Island Educator

Developing a passion for nature and science at an early age, Simon combines a lifelong commitment to teaching with a clear dedication to environmental stewardship. A published researcher, formerly of Marine Biological Laboratory, Simon has also been a faculty member at the Woods Hole Children’s School of Science for the last 14 years. Keenly aware of the need for scientific literacy and environmental awareness, while teaching at the Children’s School of Science he strove to instill an appreciation for the natural world focusing on educating students in areas such as Embryology, Microbiology, Marine Biology, Marine Ecology, and Robotics.


As a dedicated father and life partner, and an avid sailor, Simon enjoys navigating the waters around Cape Cod, and the Elizabeth Islands with his family.


Jim Newman

Board Member, Boat Captain

Jim Newman is a Penikese Island School board member, licensed boat captain, and island guide.  Professionally, Jim is an engineer, and he builds underwater vehicles for scientific exploration of the deep ocean.  Jim lives in Woods Hole with his family, a flock of eight hens, and a classic wooden sailboat.


Patti Keating

Boat Captain

Patti has had one foot in the water and one foot in the woods her whole life. With decades of sailing and boating in the waters of Buzzards Bay, she has been drawn to the Elizabeth Islands, especially Cuttyhunk and Penikese.  A deep love and curiosity with nature led her to a degree in plant and soil science and a 40+ year career in horticulture. Twenty years of teaching at Cape Cod Community College, in the horticulture certificate program allowed her to share her love and enthusiasm for plants with a diverse group of students.  When the opportunity to work with the talented and committed group of educators at the Penikese Island School came up she couldn’t jump fast enough. “It brings it all together…the ocean, the islands, young students, the flora and fauna of Penikese, driving the boat! I just couldn’t be more thrilled!"

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