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
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.”
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.
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I contribute to a variety of projects related to plant evolution and morphology. For my undergraduate thesis, I studied the fruit developmental network in early diverging angiosperms Austrobaileya scandens and Illicium floridanum with the Ambrose Lab at the New York Botanical Garden. I am passionate about science communication and accessibility, and love sharing plant science with people of all ages. Broadly, I am interested in asking questions about how the evolution of complex structures has informed the way that plants interact with each other, symbionts, and the surrounding environment. I received my B.A. in biology from Brandeis University in 2020.
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I am a botanist interested in studying plant evolution from a morphological and developmental perspective. Broadly, my focus is the evolution of growth forms in plants and the philosophy of biology.