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Environmental Stewardship 2021

Environmental Stewardship Award

Mary Freeman - 2021

Mary Freeman’s career can be defined by her application of cutting-edge methods to address critical problems in freshwater ecology and conservation, thoughtful communication of science with managers and the public, and service as an outstanding mentor and example to students and peers. 

Mary is a research ecologist with the US Geological Survey. Mary received graduate degrees in Entomology and Forest Resources from the University of Georgia. Her early research focused on how native fishes persist in altered flow regimes downstream from hydropower dams and current work continues to address effects of changing land use and stream hydrology on various biota, including fishes, invertebrates, and macrophytes. Handy with a seine even in her 60s, Mary’s particular passion is conservation of rare fishes native to southeastern US streams. 

Mary’s dedication to communication and connection with water managers and stakeholders has helped lead holistic management and conservation strategies for rivers in the United States and abroad. Ben Emanuel of American Rivers noted “she speaks in a way that’s unassuming yet deeply impactful, from long experience in the science of environmental flows and from her rich history of fieldwork in vitally important river systems.” 

Mary serves on the graduate faculty at the University of Georgia, where she has been fortunate to work with many brilliant student and faculty colleagues. Mary has inspired a generation of freshwater ecologists to think deeply, to consider both the big picture and the details, and to connect with others through patience, respect, and understanding.