Elodie's pathway

Elodie's pathway to Graduate Student

Elodie Freymann

My pathway into academia has been full of twists and turns. Although I have been fascinated with both primates and botany from an early age, I never thought I would end up studying at Oxford. I grew up in New York City, and spent most of my time in school focusing on creative writing, visual arts, and history. In the summers I pursued my interests in science, studying medicinal plants and volunteering at a botanical garden. I attended Brown University for my undergraduate and initially began working towards an Environmental Studies degree, while also taking all of the medicinal plant courses and animal behaviour courses that were offered. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to intern at the Jane Goodall Institute following my first year of college, which further cemented my interest in studying primate behaviour—although I did not yet know how I could integrate this interest with my interest in botany. After completing a majority of the courses for environmental studies, I found myself wanting to focus more on issues of environmental injustice and ethnobotany. Following my second year of college I was awarded a grant to work in Ecuador for the summer at an environmental non-profit and conduct botanical fieldwork in the Amazon—a lifelong dream of mine for as long as I could remember. This experience prompted me to switch into the Anthropology department, where I studied socio-cultural Anthropology for my remaining time at Brown. My senior year, a professor suggested I look into Zoopharmacognosy, the study of animals self-medicating, and suddenly I could see how my two, seemingly disparate scientific interests, could be combined. Despite my love and experience in these fields, following graduation I knew I wanted to first pursue art. I moved back to New York City in 2018, and began working in film as a designer and assistant producer, while also working on independent illustrated book projects. Although I was happy doing this, I knew I wanted to eventually study primates and applied to the MSc program in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. I finished up my masters during the Covid pandemic, writing my dissertation on self-medication in chimpanzees and am now beginning a DPhil with Susana Carvalho in the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab. The underlying motivations for all of my academic and professional goals are all rooted in wildlife conservation and preservation efforts, and I hope to find ways to combine film, art, and science to help make the field feel more accessible to people without academic backgrounds.

If you have any questions about my research or my pathway to Oxford please feel free to reach me at elodie.freymann@anthro.ox.ac.uk.