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.”

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.

Danny Schissler

Danny Schissler

RESEARCH AND PROJECTS COORDINATOR

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As research and projects coordinator 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 and TreeVersity project 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. I am currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Sustainability and a graduate certificate in Natural Resource Management from Harvard Extension School.

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.