Today, Jane Goodall is considered to be the world’s premier authority on chimpanzees and chimpanzee behavior. However, when she relocated to Africa from London at the age of 23, her only objective was to work with animals. At the time, she had no college degree or formal training in observing animal behavior.
A meeting with the famous paleontologist, Louis Leakey, resulted in her life’s work studying chimpanzees in the wild. Louis Leakey helped Jane further her formal education. She was one of only a handful of people to earn a PhD at Cambridge University without first earning a BA or BSc. After Cambridge, she returned to Africa to continue her field work. Her multi-year studies of wild chimpanzees in Gombe National Park in Tanzania totally revolutionized our understanding of one of man’s closest relatives.
Some of Jane Goodall’s greatest strengths are in her ability to distill knowledge from her observations. Spending so much time alone with nature has made her a stalwart spokesperson for the environment. She has inspired many researchers who are broadening our understanding of the natural world and our place within it.