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Joseph Francisco

Chemical physicist Joseph Salvadore Francisco was born on March 26, 1955 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was raised by his grandparents, Merlin and Sarah Walker in Beaumont, Texas. He graduated from Forest Park High School in 1973. After earning his B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977, Francisco went on to receive his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1983. Francisco worked as a research fellow at Cambridge University in England from 1983 to 1985, and then returned to MIT where he served as a provost postdoctoral fellow.

In 1986, Francisco was appointed as an assistant professor of chemistry at Wayne State University. He then served at California Institute of Technology as a visiting associate in the Planetary Science Division in 1991, and as a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1993. In 1995, Francisco was appointed as a full professor at Purdue University; and, in 2005, he became the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry. In addition, Francisco served as a senior visiting fellow in the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna; as a Professeur Invité at the Université de Paris; as a visiting professor at Uppsala Universitet in Sweden; and was chosen as an honorary international chair and professor by National Taipei University in Taiwan.

Francisco co-authored the textbook Chemical Kinetics and Dynamics published by Prentice-Hall and translated later in Japanese. He has also published over 475 peer reviewed publications in the fields of atmospheric chemistry, chemical kinetics, quantum chemistry, laser photochemistry and spectroscopy. Francisco served as editor of the atmospheric and ocean science section of Pure and Applied Geophysics, and on the editorial advisory boards of Spectrochimica Acta Part A, Journal of Molecular Structure: THEOCHEM, and Theoretical Chemistry Accounts, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

From 1994 to 1996, Francisco was appointed to the Naval Research Advisory Committee for the Department of Navy. He served as president and board member of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers and the American Chemical Society. President Barack Obama appointed Francisco as a member of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2010 to 2012. He also served as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and is an honorary life member of the Israel Chemical Society.

Francisco was elected as a fellow of the American Chemical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Francisco received the Percy L. Julian Award for Pure and Applied Research, the McCoy Award, the Edward W. Morley Medal, and the Alexander von Humboldt Award. He also received Honorary Doctorate of Science Degrees from Tuskegee University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of South Florida, and Knox College.

Chemical physicist Joeseph Salvadore Francisco was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.176

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/28/2013

Last Name

Francisco

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

S.

Occupation
Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The University of Cambridge

University of Texas at Austin

Forest Park High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

FRA11

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nebraska

Birth Date

3/26/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Lincoln

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Chemical physicist Joseph Francisco (1955 - ) , the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry at Purdue University, served as a fellow of the American Physical Society and president of the American Chemical Society.

Employment

Purdue University

Wayne State University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Francisco's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco talks about his household as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Francisco talks about growing up in Beaumont, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Francisco talks about raising animals as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco talks about his summers visiting his mother and grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco talks about his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes becoming interested in chemistry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco talks about his childhood experiments

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco talks about his grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco talks about his jobs as a child and teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes working at a pharmacy in junior high and high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes choosing his high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco remembers the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco talks about the low expectations for him during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco talks about his high school science fair project pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco talks about his high school science fair project pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes meeting Dr. Richard Price

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes the mentoring of Dr. Richard Price

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joseph Francisco talks about the mentoring of John Flannery

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joseph Francisco describes his lack of college counseling in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes his decision to attend the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco describes how he came to work in Dr. Raymond Davis' Laboratory pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes how he came to work in Dr. Raymond Davis' Laboratory pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco talks about his freshman roommate at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes working in Dr. Raymond Davis' laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes being selected to spend a summer at Argonne National Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes earning the money for a plane ticket to go to Argonne National Laboratory for a summer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes his involved in research at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco describes his graduate school search

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes why he chose to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco talks about his year working for Monsanto

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes the transition from Texas to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes his doctoral program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco talks about his doctoral research pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco talks about his doctoral research pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes working with Robert Gilbert

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco describes selecting Cambridge University for his postdoctoral fellowship

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes his doctoral research

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes becoming interested in atmospheric chemistry pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes becoming interested in atmospheric chemistry pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes his decision to focus on atmospheric chemistry for his independent career pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco describes his decision to focus on atmospheric chemistry for his independent career pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes discovering the key fragment species of chlorofluorocarbon pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco describes discovering the key fragment species of chlorofluorocarbon pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes the reaction to his research on chlorofluorocarbon

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes collaborating with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco talks about the use of lasers in his research

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Joseph Francisco describes the underlining theme of his research

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes the fragment species of chlorofluorocarbon

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco describes being recruited by Purdue University

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco describes how he derives research questions

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco describes how innovation in laser technology has impacted research

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco reflects on his professional accomplishments

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes revolutionizing the field of computational atmospheric chemistry

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco talks about dual-use chemistry

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco talks about his involvement in chemistry education pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco talks about his involvement in chemistry education pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco talks about STEM curricula in the United States

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco describes being elected president of the American Chemical Society pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes being elected president of the American Chemical Society pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco describes his accomplishments as president of the American Chemical Society pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes his accomplishments as president of the American Chemical Society pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes his next steps

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Joseph Francisco talks about the American Chemical Society

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Joseph Francisco talks about the legacy of Henry Hill in the American Chemical Society

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Joseph Francisco describes the role of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Joseph Francisco describes becoming the president of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Joseph Francisco reflects on his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Joseph Francisco describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Joseph Francisco describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$9

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Joseph Francisco describes collaborating with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Joseph Francisco talks about his involvement in chemistry education pt. 2
Transcript
And so what happened was, the guys from Jet Propulsion Laboratory [Pasadena, California] invited me over to spend the week with them. They wanted to learn more about what we were doing. They wanted me to learn a little bit about what they were doing. And they felt that instead of me going out there as the lone wolf, you know, fighting against some big institutions, that they wanted to sort of give me a little bit of guidance along--I mean it was a new area for me, atmospheric chemistry. I'd never been in that community, but I knew my lasers. I knew my theory. They knew the lasers. They didn't know the theory, and they wanted to see where the opportunities were to really, you know, forge a collaboration. And so I saw an opportunity that if I could help them with their work, you know, by helping with their work, I could learn a little bit how they approach problems, and, you know, how they approach problems I can really take that in terms of my own work, and really strengthening how, you know, I make cases for, you know, our work. So I used that as an opportunity to learn how they were really successful and really branding, you know, themselves as Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as a world-class institution and recognized in atmospheric chemistry. And I learned a little bit about the secret of what they do. And so I wanted to really learn as much as--from working with them, collaborating on their work and bringing some of our work in to help them strengthen their case and at the same time too, bring some of what I learned from them back over into our own work.$$So how did you do that then? What actually happened as a result of that?$$Well, so I would--every summer I would leave Detroit [Michigan] and spend the summer out at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Then they gave me a visiting associate at Cal-Tech [California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California], spent time in the geological and planetary science (unclear). So I had to learn about atmospheric modeling, and what I learned is what really makes them successful and what guides them is a real interesting push and pull between developing instruments that go up into the atmosphere, make measurements of the chemistry, but then they complement those measurements with laboratory studies, but those laboratory studies are guided by, you know, what they're seeing in the measurements. So that really adds focus and relevance and importance to the laboratory work that they're doing, but the big overview of those two is the modeling which really gets at the, where and the impact of that chemistry. So I really saw this sort of three pillars that were really key. Most people, if you're working in just, you know, theoretical chemistry, they don't see that, you know, and they don't see that connection. If they're working in the laboratory and trying to break into atmospheric, they don't see the connection between the atmospheric modeling and the, and the field measurements of how that's really informing. They just see, "Wow, these guys have done some important stuff that everybody is interested in, and they think it's important." But they don't see how it came about as being important and really seeing the importance. And I got a sense of that, and I learned a little bit about each one of those, and I also learned how to really judge the literature on each one of those and really guide, defining, you know, what are really the important abstract problems that we would work on, that would really have some real impact in informing the chemistry and the community and getting the community excited about the work that you do. But what I learned from JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] and Cal-Tech that was really important, that whatever I do in that arena, that I push the envelope and the work that I do in terms of accuracy and precision and preciseness. And so that, that forced us to up our game two notches to really, you know, push things to the limit with the best work that we can possibly do.$And the person came in a couple of times and really looked at what I was doing, gave me some feedback. They thought I was doing a great job, but she said, "You know, I'd like to come back to your class again. I saw something." I said, "Well, do I have to pay for this?" So she said, "No, you don't have to pay for it, but she said, I saw something, and I just wanna come and sit in your classroom." So she came back a couple of more times, sat at various places. She was watching, you know, what I had learned and, and doing. She thought, gave me feedback, I was doing a great job. But she said, "I was watching the students in the classroom, and clues that you were giving and things that you were delivering, they were not responding the way, from an educational psychologist standpoint, that they should have been responding and that-" So she wanted to get at some of that. And so we decided to develop a little diagnostic to try to probe on certain delivery things that I was doing to engage students, what the students were doing, you know, and what they were getting out of the that delivery and collected a lot of data. And actually, the real interesting thing I learned was that students were doing different things. They were seeing different things. They were learning different things. And one amazing thing I learned, that if I got up in front of the classroom and just wrote a lecture on the blackboard, I was only engaging about a third of the class because you have some students who are very good listeners. You have some students who are very kinetic, that are writing and taking notes. They learn in that way. Some, through hands on, some students are hands on. So when I go into a lecture, I realize that if I'm going to reach a classroom more than a third, I have to engage in activities in delivering that material in different ways that play to their learning styles. So, just going up and giving a lecture is not gonna cut it, but I have to have, you know, people give PowerPoint's. They think they're pretty, and they're doing a great thing, but they're tuning out a third of the class because some kids, when you write something on the board, the act of writing triggers a learning event, you know, for them. And so that work was just very interesting because it actually started me in generating a series of papers getting into learning styles in the classroom. And I learned that the problem just wasn't me, but, you know, the problem is that you have to deliver your lecture in different formats in order to engage the kids. But I also, too, learned in the process that the kids have to know how to take notes. If we assume as a professor, that in a high school and junior high school, they know how to take notes, well, I learned that many of them don't know how to take notes. I assumed that they know how to listen, you know, for those clues. Well, I learned that, you know, a lot of them don't know to do it. I assumed that because they've been taking tests for (laughter), elementary school, junior high school, and high school, that kids know how to take a test and that really when a kid takes a test, and, you know, that test is a measure of whether they know the material, well, I learned that that's not the case. It's a combination of how good they are taking tests or how they're not good at taking tests, plus the material. So they may know the material very well, which that young lady, I believe, but what crippled, she did not know how to take a test. And that hurt her. And it wasn't that she didn't know the material, but she didn't know how to take a test. So as an instructor, you know, I took that really rather serious in really getting at, you know, why my students didn't do well. You know, a lot of students wanna complain. They wanna put all the blame on the professor. And I really, I was ready to accept that blame, provided I really understood enough of what was going on, not only from my perspective, but from the students' perspective. And so that series of work triggered us off into really venturing out into learning styles, learning skills in the chemistry classroom. So we published about, you know, six, about five or six papers in 'Chemical Education,' really getting at research to form how one can deliver better pedagogy or frame the class work where students can learn, you know, better.