Jessi Basham

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Jessi is a junior from Woodbridge, Va., majoring in Physics and Mathematics. She serves as the Society of Physics Students (SPS) President and is also a Planetarium/Observatory presenter for Radford University. 

Jessi originally came to Radford hoping to be an astrophysicist, but soon discovered another passion. "Through my experiences here in both the classroom and doing research, I found that what I most enjoy doing is being out in the field as part of a team working toward a common goal" she says. "One of the biggest experiences that opened my eyes to this was the Arctic Geophysics research we did in Barrow, Alaska in 2014."

When she heard about the RARE project, she was excited about the opportunity to conduct more field research. "In preparing for this experience I have a newfound love for conservation and plan to pursue this in my graduate studies," adds Jessi.

She says, "I am excited to be a part of another team and to help everyone with all of the different research projects that will be going on - especially the invertebrate group that I am a part of. I have always liked bugs. When I was young I usually spent recess chasing grasshoppers and whatever else I could find. If that makes me weird so be it! I have the chance to go to one of the coolest places on earth to study ants and see some of the strangest creatures that the world has to offer. Bring it on, Amazon!"

Jessi's Project:


Motion in ants may seem to be a complicated subject, but perhaps it isn’t as complex as we might think. The purpose of this study is to relate Amazonian ant movement to the motion of simple particles. The study uses obstacles of various shapes and sizes to interrupt ant streams along the jungle floor and also aims to employ the use of a magnetic field within the obstacles through the placement of a neodymium magnets. The anticipated outcome of this research is that ant movement around the obstacles will mirror the motion of simple particles relative to their size, and that the introduction of a magnetic field will simulate a bioelectric field which will attract the ants to the obstacles. The findings of this project may prove useful in depicting movement patterns in insects.