Profiles of Leading Women Scientists on AcademiaNet.
Search among the members of the Leopoldina for experts in specific fields or research topics.
|Year of election:||1990|
|Section:||Anatomy and Anthropology|
Research priorities: primate research, behavior of apes, chimpanzees, participant observation method, ape habitats, nature conservation
Jane Goodall is one of the most famous primatologists and has pioneered the behavioral science and field research of chimpanzees. She was able to gain new knowledge about chimpanzees through her “participant observation method”. This has led to a new understanding of these animals and their behavior.
Goodall established a new method of animal observation – the “participant observation method”. She did not hide from the animals, but observed them openly and was finally accepted into their group. This way, she was able to identify new behaviors. She discovered that chimpanzees make and use tools. She was the first to observe how a chimpanzee used a branch as a tool to get food. She also recognized that every chimpanzee has its own character. However, she also noted that the animals wage war against each other and that cannibalism occurs.
Her method is now established as the “participant observation method”, many of her research studies are classics. She has thus shown that there are significant parallels between humans and chimpanzees and has redefined their relationship. She founded the “Jane Goodall Institute” in 1977 and started the “TACARE Program” in 1994 in the vicinity of Gombe National Park, a community-based conservation and development project that works with the local population to protect chimpanzee habitats and reduce poverty.
Since her withdrawal from active field research, she has traveled the world and lectured on environmental pollution and climate change. She fights for the protection of apes and is committed to promoting the respectful treatment of animals and nature by humankind.
In 2002 she was appointed UN Messenger of Peace. In 2018 a documentary film about her life was released in movie theaters. She was awarded the Tang Prize in the category “Sustainable Development” in 2020. The award states that she is being honored for her “ground-breaking discovery in primatology that redefines human-animal relationship and her lifelong, unparalleled dedication to the conservation of Earth environment.”