John Franks received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University and earned his master's degree and PhD from University of California, Berkeley. Franks served as assistant professor, associate professor and professor of Mathematics at Northwestern University before being named the Henry S. Noyes Professor in Mathematics in 2008.
Franks has authored over 80 publications. He has been a member of the NSF Mathematical Sciences panel on awards in dynamical sytems and ergodic theory and for the last ten years, has served as the treasurer of the American Mathematical Society and is a member of their Board of Trustees. He is a former member and chairman of the Board of Governors of the Geometry Center, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center and served as chair of the mathematics department at Northwestern University from 2006 - 2009.