Harvard University The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
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People

ned-friedman

William (Ned) Friedman

DIRECTOR OF THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY
ARNOLD PROFESSOR OF ORGANISMIC AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
FACULTY FELLOW OF THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY

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My research program focuses on the organismic interfaces between developmental, phylogenetic and evolutionary biology. Within the past fifteen years, remarkable advances in the study of the phylogenetic relationships of plants have provided the raw materials for critical studies of character evolution. Armed with hypotheses of relationships among organisms, I seek to explore how patterns of morphology, anatomy and cell biology have evolved through the modification of developmental processes.

My work is primarily focused on the origin and subsequent diversification of flowering plants, Darwin’s “abominable mystery.”

Laura Clerx

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

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As a research assistant in the Friedman Lab, I study early evolutionary thought, with a focus on biologists (especially botanists) who made contributions to evolutionary theory, both prior to and concurrent with Charles Darwin. More broadly, I am interested in examining evolutionary theory through the lens of the history and philosophy of science, and learning how developments in these fields have influenced the interaction between science and religion in modern society. Before joining the Friedman lab, I worked as the lab manager of the Templer Forest Ecology and Biogeochemistry Lab at Boston University.

I received my BA in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, with a secondary field in English Literature, from Harvard College.

Amelia Keyser-Gibson

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

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As a research assistant in the Friedman Lab, I study the reproductive development of conifers, as well as various other plant morphological questions. During my undergraduate thesis work in the Wilson Lab at Haverford College, I explored the distinct leaf microbial communities of native and invasive Phragmites australis for insight into biocontrol methods. More broadly, I am curious to study how plants are responding and adapting to anthropogenic climate change and am fascinated by the sheer biodiversity of plant life around us. I graduated from Haverford College in 2018 with BS in Biology with Environmental Studies and Spanish minors.

Kristel Schoonderwoerd

Kristel Schoonderwoerd

GRADUATE STUDENT

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Plants cannot predict the future any better than humans, even though the remarkable synchronization of their vegetative and reproductive growth with seasonal variation—in temperature, precipitation, and day length—might suggest otherwise. I am interested in how (and why) processes of development and differentiation in woody plants of the temperate world have harmonized with seasonal fluctuations in a variety of different ways. For my Master’s thesis, I worked on seed development in Franklinia alatamaha (Theaceae), a species that divides its seed development between two consecutive growing seasons, with a hiatus in winter.

My current interest is the diversity of resting bud morphology and architecture in trees and shrubs. My project focuses on the particularly pronounced interspecific variation in bud structure in the walnut family (Juglandaceae).

Jacob Suissa

GRADUATE STUDENT

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One of the most important innovations in land plant evolution is the development of a primary vascular system. This novel innovation led to a surge in plant size and subsequently many ecological modifications. In no other clade of plants is the diversity of vascular morphology greater than in the fern lineage and for this reason, studying the evolution and functionality of primary vasculature in ferns will ultimately throw light on our understanding of the evolution of vascular plants as a whole. In the Friedman lab, I study how the diversity of vascular arrangements in fern rhizomes (stems) has evolved throughout geologic time and how these arrangements affect the movement of water through the stem.