A.B., Brown University, Biology, 1993
Masters Certificate, The University of Georgia, Conservation Biology, 2002
Ph.D., The University of Georgia, Botany, 2002
Research Associate, USDA Invasive Plant Research Lab, 2002-2004
Postdoctoral Researcher, The University of California, Irvine, 2004-2007
I study plant ecology and ecological genetics. I work on topics such as evolutionary responses to climate change and evolution in invasive species. This research integrates ecological, quantitative and molecular genetics and involves lab, greenhouse, and field work in sites in New York, California, Florida, Europe, and Australia. I focus on testing key components of contemporary ecological and evolutionary theory with the goal of attaining a more complete understanding of evolution in natural systems.
Current Research Projects
This NSF-funded multi-collaborator effort will entail collecting seeds of key species throughout North America in a way that will allow the use of ancestor-descendant comparisons (Franks et al. 2008) to investigate evolutionin natural populations in response to ongoing changes in climate.
The genetic basis of climate change adaptation.
Following the first study to demonstrate rapid evolution in a natural plant population in response to a change in climate (Franks et al. 2007), I am currently investigating the genetic basis of evolutionary changes in flowering time in the annual plant Brassica rapa (field mustard).
Population dynamics and evolution in invasive plants.
Work in this area includes involvement with the Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey, an international effort to understand the dynamics of Alliaria petiolata in its native (Europe) and introduced (North America) range.
Other projects include examining selection, genetic variation and evolution in the Melaleuca quinquenervia, a plant native to Australia and invasive in the Florida Everglades.
Evolution of herbicide resistance. Using Brassica crops and relatives, we are determining how weedy plants can evolve resistance to herbicides.
Graduate and undergraduate positions may be available for work on these and other projects. For more information, please contact me (email@example.com).
Barnum, K, SJ Franks. 2013. Seed extracts impede germination in Brassica rapa plants. International Journal of Plant Biology. In press.
Franks, SJ. 2011. Plasticity and evolution in drought avoidance and escape in the annual plant Brassica rapa. New Phytologist 190: 249-257. Franks, SJ, PD Pratt and ND Tsutsui. 2011. Genetic consequences of a
demographic bottleneck in a biological control insect. Conservation Genetics 12: 201-211.
Franks, SJ. 2010. Population genetics of island and coastal dune plants.
Journal of Plant Biology. 2: 481-488.
Richards, CL, SN White, MA McGuire, SJ Franks, LA Donovan, R Mauricio. 2010. Plasticity, not adaptation to salt level, explains variation along a salinity gradient in a salt marsh perennial. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 840-852.
Franks, SJ. 2009. Genetics, evolution and conservation of island plants. Journal of Plant Biology 2: 481-488.