J. Michael Francis, Ph.D.
Hough Family Chair of Florida Studies
Professor of History
Dr. J. Michael Francis received his PhD in History in 1998 from the University of Cambridge. Between 1997 and 2012, he taught at the University of North Florida. In 2012, Dr. Francis was named the Hough Family Chair of Florida Studies at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, and in 2016 he was appointed Chair of the Department of History and Politics at USFSP, a position he held until 2020.
Dr. Francis has written and edited five books and numerous book chapters and articles. Since 2016, he has served as the Executive Director of an ambitious digital history project, titled La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas.
Dr. Francis has received more than two dozen national and international awards, including a four-year appointment as a Research Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and a Jay I. Kislak Fellowship at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. In 2019, Dr. Francis received a $250,000 grant from the National Archives to support a three-year digital history project titled, Lost Voices from America's Oldest Parish Archive, 1594-1821.
In addition to his published work, Dr. Francis served on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission and as curator of the traveling museum exhibit, Imagining La Florida: Juan Ponce de León and the Quest for the Fountain of Youth. In 2021, Florida Governor DeSantis appointed Dr. Francis to serve on the Florida Historical Commission. That same year, Spain’s King Philip VI bestowed upon Dr. Francis the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic, one of the country’s most prestigious civil orders.