Dr. Frank is director of the University of Florida’s Center for Innovative Communities and an associate professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. She specializes in collaborative and adaptive planning for coastal and watershed management, regional sustainability, community development, and rural stewardship. Over the past five years, she has led $1 million in interdisciplinary projects to assist sea level rise adaptation planning on Florida’s east and west coasts.
Dr. Frank formerly worked as a planning consultant in the US Southeast and Pacific Northwest and as an environmental engineer for a large manufacturing company. She received a doctorate in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon. Her undergraduate majors were chemical engineering and mathematics.
Here’s more from our conversation with Dr. Frank …
Q: How long have you been a member of ACSP?
A: 7 - 10 Years
Q: Are you involved on the ACSP Board or an ACSP Committee?
A: I am a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Planning Education and Research, since 2014.
Q: Have you won any awards?
A: Most recently, I received a 3-year Term Professorship award from the University of Florida. I also led a UF graduate research team that won a Student Project Award from the American Planning Association – Small Town and Rural Division. In 2009, my dissertation on Everglades restoration received the King Medal for Excellence in Architectural and Environmental Design Research, Architectural Research Centers Consortium. At the University of Oregon, I received a National Student Project Award and the Outstanding Student Award from the American Planning Association.
Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: If I must choose, I'd say working with the Gulf coast small town of Cedar Key, Florida, to plan for adaptation to sea level rise. We started in 2012 conducting basic analyses and raising awareness, and only five years later they are recognized statewide as a leader on this issue.
Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: My scholarship and practice style is to integrate disciplines and groups to improve planning outcomes. As a society, we understand how to specialize, but we are less fluent with collaboration, and this is what I hope to advance.
Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: I have learned to dial back my passion and take a more business approach to managing my priorities and time. I better appreciate the need to pass the torch to students and colleagues, so we can get more done together.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: An environmentalist and scholar.
Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: Early in my career I lived in five cities in the southeast United States, and then spent 9 years in Eugene, Oregon. Now, I'm back in the South in Gainesville, Florida. I'd have to say Eugene was my favorite, and Gainesville is a close second.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: I'd like to spend more time in the Caribbean, because of the beautiful tropics and coral reefs. It's hard to only vacation there, though, knowing what I do about the global environmental changes and recent hurricane strikes.
Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Like Elon Musk, I am concerned about the existential threat of artificial intelligence in the 21st century. After reading the book, I was at a loss for what local planning can do to address this threat. At best, I think planners can engage people at the local level to better understand the issues and build consensus for action.
Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: Turquoise blue, like the Caribbean oceans. I'd love to assist island communities in the Caribbean to adapt to their changing conditions, and to learn from them for making a better future in the US and world.
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