Valerie Jane Morris Goodall, Ph.D., DBE (born April 3, 1934) is a British primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist, probably best-known for conducting a forty-year study of chimpanzee social and family life, as director of the Jane Goodall Institute in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
She received an honorary doctorate degree in science from Syracuse University on May 15, 2005.
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, one of the world’s most famous scientists, is known for her landmark study of chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. In 1977, Dr. Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which supports the Gombe research and is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. With 19 offices around the world, the Institute is widely recognized for innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa and a global youth program, Roots & Shoots, which currently operates in 87 countries. Today, Dr. Goodall devotes virtually all of her time to advocating on behalf of chimpanzees and the environment, traveling nearly 300 days a year. Dr. Goodall’s many honors include the Medal of Tanzania, Japan's prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science and the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence. In April, 2002 Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Dr. Goodall a United Nations “Messenger of Peace.”
Goodall was born in London, England, the first child of Mortimer Herbert Morris-Goodall and the former Margaret Myfanwe "Vanne" Joseph. Her sister, Judy, was born in 1938. After the divorce of their parents, Jane and Judy moved with their mother to Bournemouth, England, where Vanne's mother and two sisters lived in a home
Goodall was interested in animals from her youth; this, coupled with her secretarial training prompted noted anthropologist Louis Leakey to hire Goodall as his secretary during her trip to Kenya in 1957 and 1958. It was through her association with Leakey that she began studying the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park (then known as Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve) in July, 1960.
Leakey also arranged for Goodall return to the United Kingdom, where she earned a doctorate in ethology from the University of Cambridge in 1964.
Goodall has been married twice: first, in 1964, to wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick; they divorced amicably in 1974. Their son, Hugo, known as 'Grub', was born in 1967. She then married Derek Bryceson, (a member of Tanzania’s parliament and the director of that country’s national parks) in the mid-1970s, until his death in 1980.
Goodall was instrumental in the recognition of social learning, thinking, acting, and culture in wild chimpanzees, their differentiation from the bonobo, and the inclusion of both species along with the gorilla as Hominids.
One of Goodall's major contributions to the field of primatology was the discovery of tool use in chimpanzees. She discovered that some chimpanzees poke twigs into termite mounds. The termites would grab onto the stick with their mandibles and the chimpanzees would then just pull the stick out and eat the termites. Previously, only humans were thought to use tools.
Goodall also flouted traditional scientific method in her study of primates by naming the animals she studied, instead of assigning each a number, a nearly universal practice at the time.
Goodall is an advocate for environmental and humanitarian causes, having served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2002. She was named a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in a ceremony held in Buckingham Palace in 2004.
She has also appeared (cast as herself) in an episode of Nickelodeon's animated series The Wild Thornberrys entitled "The Trouble With Darwin". She's also a character in Irregular Webcomic!'s "Steve and Terry" theme.