On Jan. 1, Edward “Ned’’ Friedman became the new director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, only the eighth in its 138-year history. Friedman is a tenured professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard.
In outreach to the public, he has initiated a New Director’s Lecture Series at the Arnold Arboretum
All lectures are free and take place in the Hunnewell Lecture Hall, 125 Arborway, Boston, MA 02130.
Advance registration is required. Contact Pamela Thompson, 617.384.5277. http://calendar.arboretum.harvard.edu/index.php
Here is a lecture schedule and an interview by garden writer Carol Stocker with Ned Friedman:
Restoring Hawaii’s Marvels of Evolution
Robert Robichaux, University of Arizona
Monday, February 7, 6:30–8:30pm
Botanist Robert Robichaux of the Hawaiian Silversword Foundation and University of Arizona discusses recent efforts to restore Hawaii’s marvels of plant evolution.
Evolving in splendid isolation over millions of years, Hawaii’s native plants exhibit patterns of diversity that are unrivaled elsewhere on Earth. Especially striking are the many examples of adaptive radiation, in which original immigrants to the islands evolved into dazzling arrays of plants exhibiting great variation in form and habitat preference. Yet, Hawaii’s native plants face an uncertain future. Many native plants, such as the exquisitely beautiful silverswords and lobeliads, now teeter on the edge of extinction.
The Good, the Bad, and Occasionally the Dead: Humanity’s Relationship with Earth’s Nitrogen
Alan Townsend, University of Colorado, Boulder
Monday, February 28, 6:30–8:30pm
Hear about the occasionally odd, often dramatic history of humanity’s relationship with phosphorous and nitrogen.
How do we live the lives we want while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can support future generations? These challenges will define the coming century, and one of them lies at the heart of the most fundamental of human needs: the need to eat, the good these chemical elements do and the harm they cause, and ultimately, the reasons to have hope for a better future.
Our Constitution’s Intelligent Design
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III
Monday, March 28, 6:30–8:30pm
**FOR MEMBERS ONLY** Join online at arboretum.harvard.edu/membership or call 617-384-5767.
In 2005 Judge John Jones presided over the landmark case of Kitzmiller v. Dover, and thereafter rendered an opinion holding that it is unconstitutional to teach the concept of intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. In the aftermath of that ruling, Judge Jones, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, was subjected to intense criticism. Judge Jones will highlight some of the lessons he learned from these experiences, including the development of his passion for judicial independence, and a belief in the need for better civics education, particularly related to our three branches of government
Recommended reading related to this talk:
· Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (available online), Monkey Girl by Edward Humes,
· 40 Days and 40 Nights by Matthew Chapman,
· The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything by Gordy Slack
· The Devil in Dover by Lauri Lebo.
Ned Freidman spoke to us of his passion for bringing more scientific research to the grounds of the 265-acre Arnold and about the new lecture series he has started.
Q. We know you are a research scientist, but are you also a gardener?
A. I love to garden. I am almost competitive about gardening. My wife and I canned 80 quarts of tomatoes this year from just nine plants. We make jam from our fruit trees. We live now in Boulder, Colo., where the season is short but the sunlight is intense. I also grow hops and brew my own beer there.
Q. What kind of tomatoes do you grow?
A. Celebrity, Sweet 100’s. No heirlooms or anything unusual because my wife is a botanist, too, and she studies Solanum plants, which are related to tomatoes, and we don’t want to transmit any plant diseases to her research projects.
Q. What have you done at the University of Colorado?
A. I’m a plain old garden variety professor studying the evolutionary origins of flowering plants (mostly trees) and how they reproduce. We’ve come up with some big surprises.
Q. What are your goals for the Arnold Arboretum?
A. The new Weld Hill building will open with a spectacular set of labs as a base for bringing undergraduates and post-docs and plant researchers to the Arboretum. They’ll be able to do microscopy and molecular biology right at the Arboretum. My job will be to get the new research building on Weld Hill up and running, but also to get science out of the building and into the schools and community.
A. I want to do outreach to public school teachers about the history of evolution. I want to get a National Science Foundation S.T.E.M. grant (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) for our graduate students to partner with science teachers in the public schools. I will do more on adult education, too. I will have a monthly community night when I will bring in someone very special from around the world for Boston. We’ll do it in an evolutionary way.
Q. Do you actually take care of the trees?
A. We have talented arborists for that, and we’re well-staffed, with 75 employees. But I hope they’ll let me up in the bucket for a bird’s eye view.
Q. Do you worry about the Asian long horned beetle?
A. I was visiting when they found those four infected trees in the hospital parking lot across the street. I don’t know where they came from. I was so impressed by the way the staff snapped into action. They knew what species the beetles preferred and the date that each tree had been previously checked. They checked all the trees again, and the beetles hadn’t spread to the Arboretum, but the trees there are so attentively checked by a full staff that it would never go undetected. We wouldn’t be playing “catch-up.’’ But we want to continue to educate our neighbors to keep an eye on their own trees.
Q. Given all the new threats to trees today by changing climate and imported pests and diseases, what kind of tree would you plant for the future?
A. My favorite tree is the ginko. I did my dissertation on it. It’s tough, pollution- and pest-tolerant, it has beautiful gold coloring in the fall. There’s a stretch of streets linked with ginkos in Yokahama and they look beautiful. Goethe wrote a tremendous love poem to a much younger woman about the ginko leaf. It’s a mysterious and romantic plant.
Q. Are you as cheerful as you seem?
A. I’m very cheerful. I have always felt I’ve been the luckiest person in the world because I get to spend my life with plants.