MS, Horticulture, Iowa State University
BS, Horticulture and Landscape Management, Illinois State University
AS, Moraine Valley Community College
Frank Balestri devotes his time equally between the Root Biology and Plant Pathology Labs at the Arboretum. In the Root Biology Lab, he assists with research into altering root systems of young trees with the overarching goal of increasing transplantability and survival in urban landscapes. Additionally, he assists with investigating the effects of transplanting on physiological responses and survival of large bareroot deciduous trees. While in the Plant Pathology Lab, he serves as diagnostician for plant problems on the grounds and oversees the Plant Health Care Scouting Program. Frank’s research interests as a professional outside of the Arboretum include identifying and evaluating underutilized woody taxa indigenous to North America for use in managed landscapes.
Frank first arrived at the Arboretum during the summer of 2012 as a Public Horticulture Intern and returned the following summer as a Grounds Crew Aide in Display Horticulture before starting his Master’s program. During graduate school Frank conducted research on Nyssa biflora Walt. (swamp tupelo), a tree native to North America with strong potential for use in the horticulture industry. Specifically, Frank developed propagation protocols and evaluated physiological responses to water stress of N. biflora. In addition to his thesis work, Frank presented at conferences and taught courses in horticulture. Frank joined the Chicago Botanic Garden directly after graduating where he worked on an IMLS grant-funded shrub survey and various curatorial projects under the Curator of Woody Plants. He returned to the Arboretum in July of 2016 and has recently attained the accreditation of an ISA certified arborist.