Dr. J. Michael Francis received his PhD in History in 1998 from the University of Cambridge. Between 1997 and 2012, Dr. Francis taught at the University of North Florida, where he also served briefly as Chair of the Department of History. In April of 2012, Dr. Francis was named the Hough Family Chair of Florida Studies at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. His teaching fields include colonial Latin American, Early Florida, Spanish Borderlands, the Pre-Columbian Americas, and Spanish Paleography.

Dr. Francis has published numerous articles on the history of early-colonial New Granada (modern day Colombia). His book, Invading Colombia, was published in 2008 by Penn State University Press. Dr. Francis' most recent book, entitled Murder and Martydrom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising of 1597, was published in 2011 by the American Museum of Natural History. His next two books will be published in 2015. The first, The Martyrs of Florida, will be published by the University Press of Florida. The second book, entitled St. Augustine: America's First City, will be published by Editions du Signe.

Dr. Francis has received more than two dozen national and international awards. In 2007, Dr. Francis was granted a four-year appointment as Research Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and in 2010-2011, Dr. Francis was named the Jay I. Kislak Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

In 2011, US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, apointed Dr. Francis to serve on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission.

In 2013, in collaboration with Spain's Ministry of Culture and the Spain-Florida Foundation, Dr. Francis curated the traveling exhibit, Imagining La Florida: Juan Ponce de Leon and the Quest for the Fountain of Youth. The exhibit opened in May, 2013 at Miami's Freedom Tower and has been on display in Tallahassee and St. Petersburg.