Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth Freeman

Associate Professor

Wildlife conservation, behavioral endocrinology, behavioral ecology

Dr. Freeman joined the School of Integrative Studies as an Assistant Professor of Conservation Studies in 2008. As a conservation biologist, Dr. Freeman studies how to save endangered species from extinction. Such a simplified explanation of her research, however, does little to describe the complexities of this integrative discipline and the problems that conservation biologists try to solve. Like the field itself, her research encompasses a range of topics including behavioral and chemical ecology, evolutionary biology, and reproductive physiology. Behavioral ecology/endocrinology best describe her areas of interest; she conducts studies on the hormones and behavior of the diverse species of this planet.

Her interest in wildlife and passion for protecting biodiversity drive her research endeavors. While she appreciates the need to advance theoretical knowledge, the most rewarding work to her stems from applied studies. Thus, she enjoys conducting research that can improve the reproductive success of endangered species and aid conservation management of wild and captive populations. The work is challenging because all living things are interconnected through their ecology, meaning their success is influenced by their environment and other species. Species’ success is also driven by the foresight and policies of humans; it takes a multi-disciplinary team to fully protect species. Thus Dr. Freeman collaborates with scientific partners from other departments and universities, as well as zoos and governmental agencies.

Dr. Freeman loves what she does. Even more so, she loves sharing her enthusiasm for her research either in a classroom, a peer-reviewed publication or at an international conference. She is frequently reminded of how fortunate she is to have this rewarding career. She strives to conduct ethically sound research that can have a positive impact on the species of this planet.

Current Research

Non-invasively monitoring the health and reproduction of black rhino in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

Activity budget of Asian elephants at the National Zoological Park

Monitoring health, pregnancy and well-being in the red panda

Investigating the function of semiochemicals to regulate reproduction in the solitary maned wolf

Selected Publications

Freeman, Elizabeth W., Jordana M. Meyer, John Adendorff, Bruce Schulte, Rachel M.  Santymire. 2014. Scraping behavior of the black rhinoceros is related to age and fecal gonadal metabolite concentrations. Journal of Mammalogy 95:340-348.

Freeman, Elizabeth W., Jordana M. Meyer, Jed Bird, John Adendorff, Bruce Schulte, Rachel M.  Santymire. 2014. Impacts of environmental pressures on the reproductive physiology of subpopulations of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Conservation Physiology. 1:doi:10.1093/conphys/cot034

Freeman, Elizabeth W., Jordana M. Meyer, Sarah Putman, Bruce A. Schulte, Janine L. Brown. 2013. Ovarian cycle activity varies with respect to age and social status in free-ranging elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Conservation Physiology 1:doi:10.1093/conphys/cot025.

Ganswindt, Andre, Janine L. Brown, Elizabeth W. Freeman, Andrew J. Kouba, Linda M. Penfold, Rachel M. Santymire, Mandi M. Vick, Nadja Wielebnowski, Erin L. Willis, Matthew R. Milnes. 2012. International Society of Wildlife Endocrinologists (ISWE), the future of endocrine measures for reproductive science, animal welfare, and conservation biology. Biological Letters: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.1181

Goodwin, Thomas E., Laura J. Broederdorf, Blake A. Burkert, Innocent H. Hirwa, Daniel B. Mark, Zach J. Waldrip, Randall A. Kopper, Mark V. Sutherland, Elizabeth W. Freeman, Julie A. Hollister-Smith, and Bruce A. Schulte. 2012.  Chemical signals of elephant musth: Temporal aspects of microorganism-mediated modifications. Journal of Chemical Ecology 38:81-87.

Santymire, Rachel M., Jordana M. Meyer, Elizabeth W. Freeman. 2012. Sleep behavior of the wild black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis). Sleep, 35:1569-1574.

Freeman, Elizabeth W., Jordana M. Meyer, Sarah Putman, Bruce A. Schulte, Janine L. Brown. 2011.  Using a simplified field progestagen method to assess ovarian activity in female African elephants. Biological Conservation 44:2105-2111.

Courses Taught

NCLC 102 - Global Networks and Communities: Food and Sovereignty

NCLC 103 - Human Creativity: Science & Art

NCLC 120 - The Natural World

NCLC 210 - Sustainable World

NCLC 211 - Introduction to Conservation Studies

NCLC 401 - Conservation Biology

NCLC 475 - Conservation Behavior


Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Policy, George Mason University

M.S. in Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University

B.S. in Biology, Vanderbilt University

Professional Affiliations

Affiliate Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

Research Associate, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Research Advisor, International Elephant Foundation

Communications Chairman, International Society of Wildlife Endocrinologists

Member: Animal Behaviour Society; Association of Zoos and Aquariums; Conservation Biology; Elephant Manager’s Association

In the Media

Red Pandas Are Adorable and in Trouble, NY Times

Mason Professor Continues Conservation Work with Red Pandas, Mason News

Faculty Highlight: Elizabeth Freeman, NCC Connect

Biodiversity in Our Own Backyard, NCC Website

A Look into the Personal Lives of the Black Rhinos of South Africa. Mason Research 

Elephant Diaries: The Birds and the Bees. African Geographic, February (2010): 20-22

The Birds and the Bees and the Elephants, Mason Spirit