The primary focus of the UMFS is research. As a research facility, the UMFS serves as a barometer against which spatial and temporal changes can be measured. With data from several similar facilities, information can be combined to characterize regional, national, and/or international trends. The facility collects and stores long-term data for weather, vegetation, water quality and other environmental parameters. The focus is on current University of Mississippi research strengths from a variety of departments and disciplines.
As an important part of a national network of biological field stations, the UMFS supports the six research priorities identified by the National Science Foundation for field stations and marine laboratories nationwide. These are (1) studying the fundamentals of basic biology and ecology, (2) assessing environmental change, (3) maintaining biodiversity, (4) sustaining ecological systems, (5) developing principles for predictive environmental management, and (6) studying environmental restoration and rehabilitation.