William J. Anderson, Ph.D.

William J. Anderson, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Education
Senior Lecturer on Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
William J. Anderson, PhD

William Anderson is the Associate Director of Education and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. He provides comprehensive administrative leadership and support for the undergraduate, graduate, and medical teaching mission of SCRB. Among his responsibilities, he is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (HDRB) concentration at Harvard College. Currently he teaches SCRB 10, the gateway course for the HDRB concentration.

A native of New Jersey, Anderson received his bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from Rutgers University. He received his PhD in biochemistry from Harvard, where his research focused on endoderm development and the directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells to insulin-producing β cells of the pancreas.

Prior to returning to Harvard in July 2008, Anderson was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College. He currently serves as the Chair of the Professional Development and Education Committee of the Society for Developmental Biology and an ex officio member of the Board of Directors. He also has expertise in research compliance, currently serving as the Chair of the Harvard University-Area Institutional Review Board and as two-time Chair of the Fenway Health Institutional Review Board.

Research interests

Bill Anderson’s research interests focus on evaluating teaching initiatives and understanding how best to teach students. Recent studies include:

  • assessing long-term retention of material delivered through active learning interventions
  • comparing learning gains, scientific confidence, and attitude toward STEM careers among students enrolled in inquiry-based laboratory courses
  • evaluating training programs in developmental biology (e.g., summer undergraduate research programs, professional development workshops)
  • analyzing student preferences for how they obtain lecture material, comparing in person lectures to online modules
  • characterizing unique course designs (both in terms of active learning activities incorporated in the class and group projects)

Selected publications

Choi Y., Jakob S., and Anderson W.J. (2017) Active learning: Developing self-directed learners through strong intellectual engagement. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2017.20.

Choi Y., Saphier G.C., and Anderson W.J. (2016) Resources for assessing educational interventions in biology at the collegiate level. CourseSource. https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2016.1.

Choi Y. and Anderson W.J. (2016) Self-directed learning with feedback – an assignment that requires zero preparation time from the instructor and maximizes active learning. Journal of College Science Teaching 46: 32-38.

Coderre R.W., Uekermann K.A., Choi Y., and Anderson W.J. (2016) Creating critical consumers of health and science news: teaching science to the non-scientist using newsworthy topics in the life sciences. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 17: 107-109.

Guseh J.S., Bores S.A., Stanger B.Z., Zhou Q., Anderson W.J., Melton D.A., and Rajagopal J. (2009) Notch signaling promotes airway mucous metaplasia and inhibits alveolar development. Development 136: 1751-1759.

Rajagopal J., Carroll T.J., Guseh J.S., Bores S.A., Blank L.J., Anderson W.J., Yu J., Zhou Q., McMahon A.P., and Melton D.A. (2008) Wnt7b stimulates embryonic lung growth by coordinately increasing the replication of epithelium and mesenchyme. Development 135: 1625-1634.

Anderson W.J., Zhou Q., Alcalde V., Kaneko O.F., Blank L.J., Sherwood R.I., Guseh J.S., Rajagopal J., and Melton D.A. (2008) Genetic targeting of the endoderm with Cldn6CreER. Developmental Dynamics 237: 504-512.

Zhou Q., Law A.C., Rajagopal J., Anderson W.J., Gray P.A., and Melton D.A. (2007) A multipotent progenitor domain guides pancreatic organogenesis. Developmental Cell 13: 103-114.

Rajagopal J., Anderson W.J., Kume S., Martinez O.I., and Melton D.A. (2003) Insulin staining of ES cell progeny from insulin uptake. Science 299: 363.

Nagele R.G., D’Andrea M.R., Anderson W.J., and Wang H-Y. (2002) Intraneuronal accumulation of β-amyloid1-42 is facilitated by the a7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscience 110: 199-211.

Nagele R.G., Velasco A.Q., Anderson W.J., McMahon D.J., Thomson Z., Fazekas J., Wind K., and Lee H. (2001) Telomere associations in interphase nuclei: possible role in the maintenance of interphase chromosome topology. Journal of Cell Science 114: 377-388.


W.J. Anderson. Compliance issues related to educational research: navigating the IRB. Education Symposium on Developing Successful Education Research Studies. 76th Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, Minneapolis, MN. July 15, 2017.

M.W. Lensch, M. Herrmann, Y. Choi, L. Qiao, and W.J. Anderson. Engaging undergraduate students from varied backgrounds in stem cell research. 15th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. June 14, 2017.

W.J. Anderson. Designing your curriculum to include active learning. 6th SDB Boot Camp for New Faculty, Society for Developmental Biology. Cambridge, MA. August 3, 2016.

Y. Choi and W.J. Anderson. Clap the slate: planning a documentary film as a learning activity to foster creativity and communication skills. 7th Asian Conference on Education. Kobe, Japan. October 23, 2015.

W.J. Anderson, Z. Machanda, and K. Musunuru. Investigating the most effective form of conveying lecture material: is it time to flip back the flipped classroom? 13th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. Stockholm, Sweden. June 26, 2015.

K. Musunuru, Z. Machanda, and W. Anderson. Flipping back the “flipped classroom”: improved learning with traditional lectures? 73rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, Seattle, WA. July 17, 2014.

W.J. Anderson. Graduate education in the United States: A case study examining Harvard University. Helmholtz Coordinator Meeting, Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine. Berlin, Germany. December 3, 2012.

W.J. Anderson, K.C. Eggan, and D.A. Melton. An undergraduate curriculum in human developmental and regenerative biology. 9th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. June 15-18, 2011.

V. Alcalde, W.J. Anderson, Q. Zhou, and D.A. Melton. Global endoderm targeting in the early embryo. Harvard Stem Cell Institute Summer Intern Symposium, Cambridge, MA. August 18, 2006.

R.I. Sherwood, D. Shaywitz, W.J. Anderson, J.M. Atienza, H. Akutsu, and D.A. Melton. Prospective isolation and characterization of mouse early embryonic populations. Keystone Symposia on Stem Cells, Whistler, British Columbia. March 31, 2006.

R.I. Sherwood, D.A. Shaywitz, W.J. Anderson, and D.A. Melton. Prospective isolation of the embryonic germ layers.  The Tony & Shelly Malkin Stem Cell Symposium (Harvard Stem Cell Institute), Boston, MA.  December 2, 2005.

W. Anderson, D. Shain, D. Joslyn, H. Lee, M. D’Andrea, and R. Nagele.  Entry of amyloid into neurons via endocytosis in Alzheimer’s disease.  45th Annual Meeting of the New Jersey Academy of Science, Lakewood, NJ.  April 15, 2000.  [The Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science 45 (1), 27-28]

A.Q. Velasco, W.J. Anderson, D.J. McMahon, J. Ward, H. Lee, and R.G. Nagele.  A high incidence of chromosome end-associations in normal interphase fibroblasts, but not in immortalized cells, revealed by telomere length profiles of single cells.  39th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, Washington D.C.  December 14, 1999.  [Molecular Biology of the Cell 10 (S), 282A]

D.J. McMahon, W.J. Anderson, A.Q. Velasco, B. Lugo, H. Lee, and R.G. Nagele.  Dynamics of chromosome congression and rosette assembly in mitotic human cells.  39th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, Washington D.C.  December 13, 1999.  [Molecular Biology of the Cell 10 (S), 179A]

W. Anderson, D. Joslyn, H. Lee, and R. Nagele.  Mechanism of chromosome numerical and positional instability during tumorigenesis.  44th Annual Meeting of the New Jersey Academy of Science, Lakewood, NJ.  April 24, 1999.  [The Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science 44 (1), 33]

W. Anderson, Z. Tejera, K. Wind, D. Joslyn, H. Lee, and R. Nagele.    Preferential and predictable positioning of chromosomes in human interphase cells.  43rd Annual Meeting of the New Jersey Academy of Science, West Long Branch, NJ.  April 18, 1998.  [The Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science 43 (1), 22]

Q. Zhang, B. Anderson, D. McMahon, R. Nagele, H. Lee, D. Joslyn, and C. Nislow.  Transcription regulator SET1: conserved functions and interacting genes.  Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, Stratford, NJ.  October 23, 1997.

C. Nislow, H. Lee, W. Anderson, S. Gwin, and E. Ray.  HAS1 is a novel RNA-dependent helicase associated with yeast SET1 that is essential for life and is homologous to the human oncogene p54.  42nd Annual Meeting of the New Jersey Academy of Science, West Long Branch, NJ.  May 17, 1997.  [The Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science 42 (1), 18]

W. Anderson, S. Gwin, M. Moffa, D. MacBride, E. Ray, H. Lee, and C. Nislow.  SET1 is the yeast homolog of the ALL-1 human oncogene involved in acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a structure-function analysis.  Sigma Xi Student Research Day, Philadelphia, PA.  March 27, 1997.

Contact Information

Sherman Fairchild G-55
7 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
william_anderson (at) harvard.edu