Translating science through art
My name is Elodie Freymann and I am a London-based freelance natural history researcher and scientific storyteller. In 2019 I took a break from the film world, where I worked as an art director, assistant producer, and freelance graphic designer to begin a Masters in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. I liked it so much I stayed. Four years later, I finished my PhD at the University of Oxford, where I studied how wild chimpanzees self-medicate with medicinal plants. This brought together my interests in primatology, botany, social anthropology, filmmaking, photography, and conservation. Throughout my research, I had the opportunity to employ a mix of natural historical approaches and methods. Over the course of nine-months in Budongo Forest, Uganda, I lived and worked with two communities of wild chimpanzees, following them each day through the forest, recording their behaviors, and learning as much as I could about the ecology of their habitats. I also conducted a series of ethnobotanical interviews with traditional healers, and collected plants for pharmacological testing, which I then conducted at Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany.
Along the way, with the help of a storytelling grant from the Explorers Club x Discovery Inc., I've been able to document my research and hone my scientific communication skills. I'm currently editing two mini-doc projects I directed and produced about a powerful medicinal tree, used by both chimpanzee and human inhabitants of Budongo Forest, which is quickly disappearing due to illegal logging operations. Outside of academia, I have also been pursuing several creative projects, writing and illustrating artist books, paper cutting, and practicing scientific illustration.
Throughout my work, I strive to blend the worlds of science and art to communicate complex ideas through visually engaging mediums. Specifically, I am interested in documenting stories about how people interact and co-exist with the flora and fauna around them - and how anthropogenic disturbances are disrupting these symbiotic relationships.