Jackson Helms is a PhD student at the University of Oklahoma. His broad interests focus on landscape scale biogeography, land use and how humans interact with the natural world. For his research, Jackson examines flight and dispersal ability of ant queens in relation to their ecology and environment. The ultimate goal of this research is to use knowledge of how ants disperse to predict ant community responses to habitat destruction and fragmentation. Research on queen flight can also be applied to better understand how invasive ant species disperse and spread across the landscape. To that end, Jackson studies the flight morphology of invasive fire ants. In addition to his research, he’s interested in surveying ant communities to map species ranges, inform conservation planning, and evaluate the impacts of human land use on native species.
Prior to becoming a biologist, Jackson spent five years as a linguist in the US Marine Corps, work that instilled an interest in human languages and cultures, and prepared him for a life of fieldwork and exploration. Since then, Jackson’s work has taken him around the globe. He has field experience in a number of countries, such as Uganda, Madagascar, Panama, and Indonesia, as well as at home in the US.