Urban and Regional Planning associate professor Kathryn Frank’s research focuses on interdisciplinary and collaborative planning practices to improve regional resilience and global sustainability. She sat down with DCP Communications so we could learn more about her.
What is your current role and what does it entail?
I am an associate professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. I teach graduate courses in environmental planning and planning administration, and an undergraduate course for the major in Sustainability and the Built Environment (SBE). My research focuses on coastal, rural and environmental planning, and I have led several interdisciplinary projects to help Florida communities and regions address sea level rise concerns. Since 2016, I have also been the director of the Center for Building Better Communities. I am now working on a strategic plan to grow the center, focusing more on applied planning research and community innovations. A current project of the Center is assisting residents of the historic Porters neighborhood in Gainesville to communicate their past, present and future values.
How long have you been at DCP and what previous roles have you served here (if any)?
I came to UF and the College of DCP in 2009 as an assistant professor, having just completed by Ph.D. I have pretty much had the same position and responsibilities since I arrived, which has given me the stability to advance the things we’ve started. I’ve been a part of expanding the SBE program, and I helped launch two online master’s programs, in URP and Sustainable Design. At the university level, I have been active with the Water Institute, including serving on the faculty advisory committee and the Florida Climate Institute.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by my field of urban and regional planning. Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to “save the world.” Decades later I have become less ambitious and more realistic, but the planning field allows me to make tangible, positive differences every day, while keeping an eye on the big picture. I am also inspired by students, who are in an amazing time of personal growth and exploration. I am privileged to be a part of shaping who they are and their paths in life.
Who are the most influential people in your life?
The most influential people in my life are those who engage openly and genuinely, and who have a community spirit. I have tended towards abstraction, introversion and productivity, but what really matters is connection with each other and life, in the here and now.
What do you think is the most exciting trend in your field today?
The most exciting trend in my field, and others, is interdisciplinarity. When it comes to people’s lives and communities, they want to address their problems and develop opportunities. They don’t want to hear “that’s not my field.” Now that many relevant fields are established, we can join forces, which will make everyone stronger in the process. I am so enthusiastic about interdisciplinarity that I have included this topic in my research agenda.