J. Michael Francis

Distinguished professor joins Florida Studies program as Hough Family Endowed Chair

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (May 3, 2012) — One of the country’s leading experts on the history of the Spanish colonial experience in Florida is joining the highly regarded Florida Studies Program, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg announced today.

J. Michael Francis, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the History Department at the University of North Florida, joins the Florida Studies Program Aug. 1, Regional Chancellor Margaret Sullivan said today at the USF St. Petersburg Campus Board meeting.

Dr. Francis, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, will hold the newly created Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

“I am grateful for the generosity of the Hough Family for an endowment that will benefit generations of students,’’ said Dr. Frank Biafora, Dean of the USFSP College of Arts and Sciences.

USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Margaret Sullivan also thanked the Hough family and praised Dr. Francis for joining the Florida Studies Program.

“His arrival comes at a particularly propitious time as Florida prepares to observe the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s expedition,’’ Dr. Sullivan said. “Dr. Francis represents the vanguard of scholars who are reinterpreting the meaning of 1513 and the complexities of issues resulting from that encounter.”

Dr. Francis is a distinguished scholar with more than two dozen state, national and international honors, including a four-year appointment as a research fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a research fellow at the Library of Congress.

Because of his expertise in early-Florida history, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appointed Dr. Francis as one of only two historians on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission. Dr. Francis also is curator of a traveling exhibit called Imagining La Florida: Ponce de Leon and the Quest for the Fountain of Youth that will open at Miami’s Frost Museum in April 2013.

He is the co- author, most recently, of Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida (2011). He also is the author of Invading Colombia: Spanish Accounts of Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada’s Expedition of Conquest (2007). He also was a contributing editor of The Encyclopedia of War (2011). He is currently working on a book titled, Before Jamestown: Europeans, Africans and Indians in La Florida, 1513-1607.

Dr. Francis is the only faculty member at the University of North Florida to receive the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award and the Outstanding International Leadership Award. He also received three Dean’s Leadership Council Faculty Fellowships.

“I am delighted to be joining the distinguished faculty at USF St. Petersburg and the premiere Florida Studies program in the state,’’ Dr. Francis said. “I look forward to introducing students to the rich but often neglected history of early Florida.’’

One of Dr. Francis’ specialties is Spanish paleography, the study of ancient, hand-written texts. He plans to teach a class on the subject and conduct field trips to Spain where students can get hands-on experience.

Gary Mormino, Ph.D., who will soon retire as Frank E. Duckwall Professor of History and senior Scholar in the Florida Studies Program, was bestowed the title of Professor Emeritus today by the USFSP Campus Board in honor of his distinguished work.

Dr. Mormino praised Dr. Francis’ appointment.

“Michael Francis is one of the brightest, most engaging and serious scholars of Spanish Florida,’’ Dr. Mormino said. “He brings all of the qualities one could possibly imagine for a candidate holding the prestigious Hough Family Chair in Florida Studies: passion and compassion, success tempered by a sense of humor and dedication matched by loyalty. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the Florida Studies Program is immeasurably better with the coming of Professor Michael Francis.”

Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Human Genome Sequencing

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 13, 2011) – The Festival of the Genome at USF St. Petersburg will feature a series of five public lectures by nationally and internationally renowned speakers to explore the impact of DNA and the genomics revolution on science and society from a variety of perspectives.

Ten years ago, a scientific breakthrough of enormous significance occurred: two major scientific journals simultaneously provided the first detailed look at the human genome, a string of some 3 billion chemical building blocks, nucleotides, whose unique sequence forms the genetic blueprint for each individual. In the intervening 10 years, many other important genomes have been sequenced.

The Festival of the Genome lectures will explore where the sequencing has led us and the impact this scientific achievement has had on medicine, policy, law and on our own view of our species and its place in our world.

All lectures begin at 7 p.m. and take place in the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at USF St. Petersburg, 140 7th Ave S. A reception prior to each lecture will begin at 6 p.m.

This program is presented by the Division of Academic Affairs. For event information, please contact genome2011@usfsp.edu.

October 20
The Human Genome: 10 Years and 247 Days Later
Dr. Gary Litman, Andrew and Ann Hines Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at USF Health, Distinguished University Professor

October 27
Dali and Science: A Paranoic Universe
Mr. Peter Tush, Curator of Education, Dali Museum

November 3
SEQUENTIA (Art and Science Together)
Mr. Xavier Cortada, Independent Artist, and Dr. Kalai Mathee, Founding Chair and Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University

November 10
Finding the Human in the Genome
Rev. Dr. Ronald Cole-Turner, H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

November 17
The Genome and the Internet: Growing Up Together
Dr. Robert Cook-Deegan, Director, Center for Genome Ethics, Policy and Law, Duke University