David Francko

Professor and Dean of Graduate School

Phone: (205) 348-8280

David Francko received a Ph.D. in Botany from Michigan State University in 1980. He was appointed Professor of Biological Sciences, Dean of the Graduate School and Assistant Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the University of Alabama in 2006. He was named Associate Provost in 2009. Prior to joining the University of Alabama, he was a faculty member at Miami University.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in two seemingly disparate areas: botanical limnology and experimental horticulture. A common theme – plant responses to environmental stress – underlies both of these areas. As a limnologist, I’ve explored the underlying mechanisms involved in aquatic plant and algal responses to environmental stress, especially in Great Lakes coastal wetlands. An important component of this work focused on public outreach. I strongly believe in integrating my research and teaching programs and from 1994 – 2003 used my research sites on Lake Erie as a teaching venue for a course each summer involving Miami undergraduate and graduate students as well as in-service teachers enrolled in Miami’s Master of Arts in Biological Sciences Teaching program. At UA, I regularly team-teach BSC 120, occasional short courses in the Osher Life- Long Learning series, and give lectures to area gardening groups and arboreta.

In the late 1990s I began a new series of research projects on the horticulture of cold-hardy subtropical plants. This work, done in collaboration with colleagues Ken Wilson, Quinn Li, and more than a twenty undergraduate and graduate students, received extramural grant funding and resulted in numerous paper presentations, journal publications, a book, opportunities to appear on television and radio, and multiple intellectual property disclosures and patents to date.

At Alabama, I’ve continued work on topical spray preparations that augment plant’s native abilities to both avoid and tolerate frost and freeze events, specifically to patent and work to commercially produce a product called Frost Protect and to improve this product. I have also become involved in efforts to create a bamboo-based fiber and wood industry in Alabama utilizing a new cultivar of timber bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis ‘Moso’).

Because of my administrative duties, it would be unwise for me to serve as a major professor for a graduate student, but I am happy to lend expertise as a committee member.

Selected Publications

Francko, D. and K. Wilson. 2004. A new way to test for palm cold hardiness. Hardy Palm Internat. 58:26-29.

Francko, D.A. and K. Wilson.  2004.  New free-standing devices provide winter protection to palms and other ornamentals. Southeastern Palms 12(3):10-13.

Francko, D., K. Wilson, and C. Leary-Elderkin. 2007. Musa basjoo ‘Upham Giant’: A putative new cultivar of Japanese fiber banana for temperate landscapes.  Southeastern Palms 15(2):13-15.

Whyte, R**., D. Trexel-Kroll**, R. Shields, D. Klarer, and D. Francko. 2008. The invasion and spread of Phragmites australis during a period of low water in a Lake Erie coastal wetland. J. Coastal Res. 55:111-120.

Equiza, M.A. and D. Francko. 2010. Assessment of freezing injury in palm species by chlorophyll fluorescence.  HortScience 45(5):845-848.

Francko, D., K. Wilson, A. Equiza, and Q. Li. 2011.  A topical spray to enhance plant resistance to cold injury and mortality. HortTechnology 21(1):109-118.

Bailey, G, W.V. Muse, L.T. Todd, D. Wilson, and D.A. Francko. 2013. University presidents see growing role for scholarship of engagement. J. Community Engagement and Scholarship  6(1):88-95.