Ashley has established the Franks Lab for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, which investigates microbial community structure and functions at interfaces. Together with colleagues and students he has active research projects looking at the interactions of mixed microbial communities with plants, soils, microbiome, electrodes, sewer systems and submarines. For his research he has received a number of awards and funding from national and international sources.
Ashley completed his PhD in marine microbial ecology at the University of New South Wales. During his PhD, Dr Franks received an Adrian Lee Fellowship and conducted collaborative research at Exeter University, UK. He was awarded a Government of Ireland Fellowship in Science, Technology and Research for research conducted at the National University of Ireland, University College Cork, regarding microbial interactions in the plant rhizosphere. During this time, he was also part of the European Union Pseudomics project, a collaboration across Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal. Dr Franks then gained a position within the Geobacter Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he leads projects in the Extracellular Electron Transfer Group, and was involved in collaborations with research groups at the Naval Research Laboratories, Cornell University, the University of Toronto, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Harvard University.