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Jackson Helms

Research Entomologist

Dr. Jackson A. Helms

Research Entomologist, US Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service
Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology
jackson.helms@usda.gov, jacksonhelmsiv@gmail.com
orcid.org/0000-0001-6709-6770
Website: https://jacksonhelms.com

I am an ecologist and conservation biologist working at the intersection of basic and applied biology. My research links species invasions, physiology, life history evolution, and global change within agricultural landscapes and natural ecosystems.

Education
  2016 Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Oklahoma. “Ants in Flight: Reproduction, Dispersal and Predation in Ant Queens.” Adviser Eli S. Bridge.
  2010 B.S. in Evolution & Ecology, minor in Arabic, summa cum laude, The Ohio State University
  2005 A.A. in Arabic, Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California
Specialized training courses
  2018 Research Mentor Training, National Research Mentoring Network
  2015 IFC Performance Standards in Biodiversity Conservation
  2012 Ant Course, California Academy of Sciences

Experience
  2021-Present Research Entomologist, USDA-ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida
  2018-2021 Postdoctoral Researcher, W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, Michigan, host Nick Haddad
  2016-2017 Conservation Scientist, Health in Harmony & Alam Sehat Lestari, Portland, Oregon & Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia
  2015 NSF Graduate Research Intern, Ants of the Guiana Shield, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., host Ted Schultz
  2014-2015 Graduate Teaching Assistant, General Entomology, University of Oklahoma
  2013-2019 Associate Scientist, Global Wildlife Conservation
  2011-2012 Graduate Research Assistant, University of Oklahoma, Department of Biology
  2009-2010 Undergraduate Research Assistant, The Ohio State University, Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology
  2009 Biological Science Technician, US Geological Survey, Laurel, Maryland
  2003-2008 Arabic Language Analyst, Fort Meade, Maryland

Teaching
  2018-2020 Kellogg Biological Station K-12 Partnerships & Summer Programs, Michigan
  2016-2017 Directed K-12 Conservation Education Programs, Indonesia
  2014-2015 Graduate Teaching Assistant, General Entomology, University of Oklahoma

Research Articles
*indicates an undergraduate collaborator
  18. Helms JA, Smith J, Clark S, Knupp K & Haddad NM (2021) Ant Communities and Ecosystem Services in Organic Versus Conventional Agriculture in the U.S. Corn Belt. Environmental Entomology 50:1276-1285.
  17. Helms JA, Roeder KA, Ijelu SE*, Ratcliff I & Haddad NM (2021) Bioenergy landscapes drive trophic shifts in generalist ants. Journal of Animal Ecology 90:738-750.
  16. Cusser S, Helms JA, Bahlai CA & Haddad NM (2021) How long do population level field experiments need to be? Utilising data from the 40-year-old LTER network. Ecology Letters 24:1103-1111.
  15. Helms JA, Ijelu SE*, Wills BD, Landis DA & Haddad NM (2020) Ant biodiversity and ecosystem services in bioenergy landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 290:106780.
  14. Fawzi NI, Helms J, Novianto A, Supianto A, Indrayani AM & Febriani N (2020) Reducing Illegal Logging through a Chainsaw Buyback and Entrepreneurship Program at Gunung Palung National Park. Forest and Society 4:151-161.
  13. Fawzi NI, Helms J, Emerson A & Wibawanto MA (2020) Forest restoration progress and lessons learned in Gunung Palung National Park, Indonesia. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 32:195-205.
  12. Helms JA, Ijelu SE* & Haddad NM (2019) Range expansion in an introduced social parasite-host species pair. Biological Invasions 21:2751-2759
  11. Helms JA, Woerner CR, Fawzi NI, MacDonald A, Juliansyah, Pohnan E & Webb K (2018) Rapid Response of Bird Communities to Small-Scale Reforestation in Indonesian Borneo. Tropical Conservation Science 11:1-8 - Project featured on CNN (Nov 2017) and Mosaic: The Science of Life (Nov 2017)
  10. Helms JA (2018) The flight ecology of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 26:19-30.
  9. Helms, JA & Tweedy B (2017) Invasive fire ants contain high levels of mercury. Insectes Sociaux 64:169-171.
  8. Helms, JA & Bridge ES (2017) Range expansion drives the evolution of alternate reproductive strategies in invasive fire ants. Neobiota 33:67-82.
  7. Helms JA, Godfrey AP, Ames T* & Bridge ES (2016) Predator foraging altitudes reveal the structure of aerial insect communities. Scientific Reports 6:28670.
  6. Helms JA, Godfrey AP, Ames T* & Bridge ES (2016) Are invasive fire ants kept in check by native aerial insectivores? Biology Letters 12:20160059 - Featured on CBC’s Quirks & Quarks radio program (May 2016) - Featured in The Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science Blog (Sep 2016)
  5. Helms JA & Godfrey A (2016) Dispersal polymorphisms in invasive fire ants. PLoS ONE 11:e0153955.
  4. Roeder KA, Roeder DV, Kouri JD* & Helms JA (2015) A New Latitudinal Record for the Ant Genus Leptogenys (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in North America. Southwestern Entomologist 40:653-656.
  3. Helms JA & Kaspari M (2015) Reproduction-dispersal tradeoffs in ant queens. Insectes Sociaux 62:171-181.
  2. Helms JA, Peeters C & Fisher BL (2014) Funnels, gas exchange and cliff jumping: natural history of the cliff dwelling ant Malagidris sofina. Insectes Sociaux 61:357-365. - Featured in New Scientist (August 2014)
  1. Helms JA & Kaspari M (2014) Found or Fly: nutrient loading of dispersing ant queens decreases metrics of flight ability (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 19:85-91.

Biodiversity & Conservation Publications
  5. Fawzi NI, Husna VN & Helms JA (2018) Measuring deforestation using remote sensing and its implication for conservation in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science 149:012038
  4. Helms JA, Helms SM, Fawzi NI, Tarjudin & Xaverius F (2017) Ant community of an Acacia mangium forest in Indonesian Borneo. Serangga 22:147-159.
  3. Helms JA, Alonso L & Isaacs S (2016) Ants of the South Rupununi Savannah, Guyana. BAT Survey Report 1:135-147. World Wildlife Fund, Guyana. - Project featured in Amphibian Survival Alliance blog, Guyana Times, Guyana Government’s Information Agency, Guyana Times International, iNews Guyana, Kaieteur News, National Geographic Explorers Journal, Stabroek News
  2. Helms J, Alonso L & Isaacs S (2014) Ants—Preliminary Report. In: South Rupununi Biodiversity Assessment Team (BAT) Expedition Preliminary Report, pp. 20-23. WWF- Guianas Biodiversity Publication.
  1. Alonso LE & Helms JA (2013) A rapid assessment of the ants of the Grensgebergte and Kasikasima regions of Southeastern Suriname. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 67:109-118.

Magazine Articles
  3. Helms JA, Godfrey A, Ames T* & Bridge ES (2017) Dining with Purple Martins— what’s on the menu for North America’s most popular insect hunter? Purple Martin Update 26:22-25.
  2. Helms J (2017) Ants abound in South Rupununi: Diverse and interesting ant species found during expedition. Guyana Sunday Times Magazine, 15 January 2017.
  1. Helms JA, Godfrey A, Ames T* & Bridge ES (2015) Fire Ant exterminators: Purple Martins and aerial pest control. Purple Martin Update 24:24-27.
Manuscripts in Revision, Review, or Prep
  3. Kemmerling L, Rutkowski C, Evans S, Helms J, Cordova-Ortiz E, Smith J, Vázquez Custodio J, Vizza C, Haddad N (In Review) Prairie strips and crop management practices create tradeoffs and synergies for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  2. Helms JA (In Prep) Climate and the mating phenology of ants.
  1. Hsieh H-Y, Helms JA, Perfecto I (In Prep) Can higher-order interactions influence pest control effects of a predatory beetle in Neotropical coffee agroecosystems?

Grants & Awards($419,929)
  2017 USFWS Great Ape Program, $75,000
  2017 Disney Conservation Fund, $50,000
  2017 David & Lucile Packard Fdn—Agric., Livelihoods, and Conservation, $100,000
  2017 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Nominee
  2017 OU Provost’s Ph.D. Dissertation Award, $1,000
  2016 OU Libraries Open Access Fund, $1,495
  2012-2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, $132,000
  2011-2016 University of Oklahoma Alumni Fellowship, $43,800
  2015 Soc. of Environ. Journalists Grad Student Poster Competition, 2nd Prize, $150
  2015 NSF Graduate Research Internship, $5,000
  2014 George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Scholarship, $2,500
  2014 OU Biological Station Graduate Summer Research Fellowship, $2,500
  2013 OU Graduate Student Senate Grants, $984
  2012 OU College of Arts & Sciences Student Travel Fund, $500
  2008-2010 Horatio Alger Military Scholarship, $5,000
  2007 Marine Corps Language Professional of the Year Nominee
  2005 Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Commandant’s Award
  2005 Defense Language Institute Middle East School II Provost’s Award

Undergraduate Student Mentorship
  2020 Rachel Matejewski (Michigan State University, Ant Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Restored Prairie Strips)
  2019 Stephanie Clark (Aquinas College, Chemical Agriculture and Ant Communities in the US Corn Belt)
  2019 Anna Paraskevopoulos (Cameron University, Ants in Restored Prairies)
  2019 Katie Knupp (Western Michigan University, Ecosystem Services of Agricultural Prairie Strips)
  2018 Selassie Ijelu (University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, NSF REU Mentor, Ecosystem Services of Ants in Biofuel Crops)
  2015 Gretchen Scheel (Univ. of Oklahoma, Undergraduate Honors Thesis Committee)
  2015 Emma Hanisch (Smithsonian NMNH Intern, Ants of the Guiana Shield)
  2015 Tiago Fernandes (Smithsonian NMNH Intern, Brazilian Science without Borders Intern, Ants of the Guiana Shield)
  2015 Christopher Patrick (Smithsonian NMNH Intern, Ants of the Guiana Shield)
  2014 Tayna Ames (Lorain County Community College, Purple Martins & Insects)

Research Talks
  2021 Helms JA. Climate and mating phenology in ants. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting.
  2021 Helms JA. Climate and mating phenology in ants. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.
  2020 Helms JA. Ants, bioenergy, and pest regulation in agricultural landscapes. USDA Southern Insect Management Research Unit, Stoneville, MS
  2020 Helms JA. Flight, invasion, and evolution in ants. USDA Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, FL
  2020 Helms JA. Roeder KA, Ijelu S, Ratcliff I & Haddad NM. Ecological opportunity and the trophic niches of social insects in bioenergy landscapes. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting
  2020 Haddad NM & Helms JA. Landscape connectivity increases biodiversity and ecosystem services in working lands. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.
  2020 Helms JA. Beyond research: war, indigenous nations, and conservation. The Ohio State University at Lima, Lima, OH
  2020 Helms JA. Flight, evolution, and bioenergy in an era of global change. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  2019 Helms JA. Flight, evolution, and bioenergy in an era of global change. Minot State University Seminar, Minot, ND
  2018 Helms JA. Beyond research: war, indigenous nations, and conservation. Kellogg Biological Station Brown Bag Seminar Series, MI
  2018 Helms JA, Ijelu S* & Haddad N. Can next-generation biofuel crops support native insect communities and meet energy needs? Entomological Society of America Joint Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC
  2016 Helms JA. Ants in flight: reproduction, dispersal and predation of ant queens. OU Department of Biology Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, Norman, OK
  2016 Helms JA. Ants in the atmosphere: when Earth’s most diverse social animals take wing. OU Department of Biology Seminar Series, Norman, OK
  2015 Helms JA, Godfrey A, Ames T* & Bridge ES. Purple Martins, flight altitudes and fire ants: using aerial predators to study atmospheric animal communities. American Ornithologists’ Union & Cooper Ornithological Society Meeting, Norman, OK
  2014 Helms JA,Kaspari M & Godfrey A. Ants in flight: the Found or Fly tradeoff in queens. International Union for the Study of Social Insects International Congress, Cairns, Australia
  2014 Helms JA. Conservation exploration in Madagascar and Guyana. OU Department of Biology EcoMunch Seminar Series, Norman, OK
  2013 Helms JA. & Kaspari M. Flight, reproduction and biomechanical tradeoffs in ant queens. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA
  2012 Helms JA. Flight, reproduction & biomechanical tradeoffs in ant queens. OU Department of Biology EcoMunch Seminar Series, Norman, OK

Guest Lectures
  2020 Promoting a productive summer research experience. Summer Research Internship Professional Development Seminar, Kellogg Biological Station, MI.
  2020 Big Jumps in Evolution: Evolution across large timescales and mechanisms for rapid evolutionary change. The Ohio State University at Lima Honors Intro Biology Course, Lima, OH
  2019 Making it as a first-generation scientist. Gull Lake Gateway Academy, MI
  2018 The Little Things that Run the World: Foraging, teamwork, and competition in ants. K-12 Partnership Summer Institute, Kellogg Biological Station, MI
  2017 Ants in flight—dispersal ecology of earth’s most diverse social animals. Kellogg Biological Station, MI
  2016 Insects in the atmosphere. OU Aeroecology Group, Norman, OK
  2015 Conservation exploration in Madagascar and Guyana. OU General Entomology Course, Norman, OK
  2014-2015 Rediscovering the Malay Archipelago: Alfred Russel Wallace, changing landscapes and conservation in Indonesia. OU Capstone Course, Norman, OK
  2014 Ant Diversity & Ecology. OU General Entomology Course, Norman, OK
  2014 Competition, niche differentiation, and the maintenance of species diversity in communities. OU Principles of Ecology Lab, Norman, OK
  2013 The Diversity & Ecological Importance of Ants and Ant Collection & Identification. University of Guyana, Georgetown, Guyana
  2013 South Rupununi Biodiversity Assessment Team Expedition. Press conference, Georgetown, Guyana

Poster Presentations
  2020 Clark S, Helms JA, Smith J, Knupp K & Haddad NM. Chemical and organic farming methods alter ant activity during the Michigan growing season. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.
  2020 Hsieh H-Y, Chaves LF, Vandermeer J, Perfecto I & Helms JA. Far-flung species’ environmental sensitivity creates alternative pest control stable states in coffee agroecosystems. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.
  2019 Clark S, Helms JA, Smith J, Knupp K, Haddad NM. Conventional and organic farming methods alter ant activity during the Michigan growing season. LTER All Scientists’ Meeting, Hickory Corners, MI
  2018 Helms JA, Ijelu SE*, Haddad NM. Can next-generation biofuel crops support native biodiversity and meet energy needs? LTER All Scientists’ Meeting, Pacific Grove, CA
  2018 Ijelu S, Helms JA. Ecosystem services of native perennial biofuels: Natural pest consumption in corn, switchgrass, and prairie crops. KBS Summer Research Symposium, Hickory Corners, MI
  2015 Helms JA, Godfrey A, Ames T* & Bridge ES. Purple Martins and Fire Ants: high altitude interactions between a native predator and an invasive prey. The Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Meeting, Norman, OK
  2010 Helms J, Zola J, Salhi H & Raczkowski J. Intraspecific Competition in Pavement Ants. The Ohio State University Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, Columbus, OH
  2010 Helms J, Zola J, Salhi H & Raczkowski J. Intraspecific Competition in Pavement Ants. The Ohio State University Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Research Forum, Columbus, OH

Manuscript Reference
The American Midland Naturalist, Applied Entomology and Zoology, Biology Letters, Diversity, Ecology and Evolution, Forests, Ibis, Insect Science, Insectes Sociaux, Journal of Animal Ecology, Myrmecological News, PLoS ONE, Scientific Reports

Blogs
  2018 Helms JA. Gratitude in Biology: thanking the organisms and communities that enable discovery. Rapid Ecology. rapidecology.com/2018/04/04/
  2017 Helms J. Health in Harmony. healthinharmony.org
  2015 Helms JA. Ants in flight. Insectes Sociaux. insectessociaux.com/2015/05/03

Outreach, Service & Citizen Science
  2019 Gull Lake Gateway Academy Alternative School, Michigan
  2018 K-12 Partnership Summer Institute, Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan
  2016-2017 Directed ASRI Kids & Teens Conservation Education Programs, Indonesia
  2012-2015 Regional Elementary and High School Science Lessons, Oklahoma
  2011-2015 Oklahoma Biological Survey BioBlitzes, Ant Surveys
  2011-2013 Oklahoma Academy of Science Field Meetings, Ant Surveys
  2010 The Ohio State University BioBlitz, Bird Survey, Franklin County, Ohio
  2009-2010 The Ohio State Univ. Students for a Sustainable Campus
  2009 Breeding Bird Atlas Surveys for Colorado, Delaware, and Virginia

Radio & Other Press
  2020 Marine to Myrmecologist: One Entomologist’s Journey to Understand and Conserve Native Biodiversity. Entomology Today. https://entomologytoday.org
  2016 Purple martins keep invasive fire ants in check. Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald, CBC Radio, Canada, 28 May.