William (Ned) Friedman

William (Ned) Friedman

William (Ned) Friedman

Director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

1300 Centre St.
Boston, MA 02131
Phone: 617.384.7744
Fax: 617.384.6596


PhD Botany (1986), University of California, Berkeley
AB Biology (1981), Oberlin College

Living plant collections not only beautify their landscapes, but also hold the nearly unlimited potential to unlock the secrets of evolution, tell stories about the history of science and humankind, and exemplify vital contemporary concerns about biodiversity and climate change. With over 15,000 curated plants representing more than 2,100 species, the living collection of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University represents one of the most important and dynamic resources for the study of botany and horticulture in the world.

In 2011, I became the eighth director of the Arnold Arboretum in its nearly 150-year history, as well as the Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. As a botanist who has devoted his entire career to studying the evolutionary diversification of plants, I am privileged to have the opportunity to steward, promote, and share the extraordinary botanical and horticultural resources of the Arnold Arboretum with students, scholars, and some 250,000 annual visitors.

To learn more about my research interests and projects, please visit my faculty homepage in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

To learn more about initiatives I have been involved with for research, public outreach, and teaching, please visit the Harvard Gazette.

Representative Publications

  • Wu, C.C., P.K. Diggle, and W.E. Friedman. 2013. Kin recognition within a seed and the effect of genetic relatedness of an endosperm to its compatriot embryo on maize seed development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 2217-2222. [pdf]
  • Friedman, W.E., J.B. Bachelier, and J.I. Hormaza. 2012. Embryology in Trithuria submersa (Hydatellaceae) and relationships between embryo, endosperm, and perisperm in early-diverging flowering plants. American Journal of Botany 99: 1083-1095.[pdf]
  • Bachelier, J.B. and W.E. Friedman. 2011. Female gamete competition in an ancient angiosperm lineage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108: 12360-12365. [pdf]
  • Friedman, W.E. and P.K. Diggle. 2011. Charles Darwin and the origins of plant evolutionary developmental biology. Plant Cell 23: 1194-1207. [pdf]
  • Winther, J.L. and W.E. Friedman. 2009. Phylogenetic affinity of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbionts in Psilotum nudum. Journal of Plant Research 122: 485-496. [pdf ]
  • Friedman, W.E. 2009. The meaning of Darwin’s “abominable mystery.” American Journal of Botany 96: 5–21. [pdf]

Current Grants

  • National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology, Research Coordination Network Program, “microMORPH, Microevolutionary Molecular and Organismic Research in Plant History” (Principal Investigator; 2010-2015)
  • National Science Foundation, Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, Developmental Systems Cluster, “Did the first angiosperms lack an embryo-nourishing endosperm?” (Principal Investigator; 2009-2013)