Harvard University The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
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People

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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.”

Guan-Yue Chen

UNDERGRADUATE HONORS STUDENT

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I am currently working on my senior honors thesis at the Arnold Arboretum. This requires performing confocal microscopy to document seed and ovule development in emerging model system Aquilegia caerulea. From this work, I am analyzing data in over 100 samples and compiling information from 70+ scientific articles for a literature review for this project.

Meng Li

Meng Li

VISITING FELLOW
PHD CANDIDATE, BOTANY
CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE

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I’m interested in monographic, phylogenetic, and biogeographic studies of the rose family (Rosaceae). I am also interested in systematics and biogeography of intercontinental disjunct plants in the Northern Hemisphere. My most recent work has focused on the genus Sorbus (Rosaceae) from a molecular phylogeny, biogeography and taxonomy aspect.

Rebecca Polivus

Rebecca Povilus

PHD CANDIDATE

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Broadly, I’m interested in the evolution of morphological development in plants, as well as the evolution of the molecular mechanisms that underlie those developmental processes. I focus mostly on reproductive development – specifically, on seeds. By identifying the waterlily Nympahea thermarum (a member of one of the earliest-diverging lineages of flowering plants) as an uniquely tractable experimental system, I have been able to approach some long-standing questions about the evolution of maternal and paternal influence on endosperm and seed development.

I am using both histological and molecular methods to address these questions – my work uses classic microscopy methods as well as newer technologies like next-gen sequencing.

Danny Schissler

Danny Schissler

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

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As a research assistant in the Friedman Lab, I am involved with projects studying reproductive morphology and embryology in seed-bearing plants. Outside of the lab, I help coordinate the Tree Spotters Citizen Science Program at the Arnold Arboretum. My personal and professional interests lie at the intersection of nature and culture–a boundary that I explore through fine art and science outreach. I earned my MFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2014, and hold a BA in Archaeology and Architectural Studies from Tufts University.

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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As an undergraduate at The University of Vermont, I studied plant biology where I conducted various research projects ranging from plant physiology to fungal taxonomy.

Since graduating, I’ve worked with the United States National Arboretum (USNA) and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. With the Smithsonian I worked on projects utilizing high-throughput (NextGen) sequencing to resolve the phylogeny in a clade of North American heterosporous aquatic lycophytes (Isoëtes), as well as using Fluidigm’s novel microfluidic technologies to amplify a large number of loci in a few taxa of the Sunflower family (Asteraceae).

In the Friedman Lab, I plan to delve into research focusing on morphological development and diversification in a phylogenetic context.