About the Center
2016 Conservation Forum
Previous Awards and Events
World Ecology Award
Conservation Action Prize
Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture Series
Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum
Donate to the Harris Center
Chancellor Blanche Touhill presented the World Ecology Award to Dr. Jane Goodall at a Gala Dinner held on April 14, 1999 at Grant's Farm. Jane Goodall is the foremost authority on wild chimpanzees and the most recognizable crusader for their conservation. She was born in London, England on April 3, 1934 and, after leaving high school, worked as a secretary at Oxford University and later as an assistant editor at a documentary film studio. To work with animals and to visit Africa had always been her overriding passions. Her opportunity to do both came in 1957 when a former classmate invited her to visit her parents' farm in Kenya. While there she met famed anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey. She worked for Dr. Leakey as a secretary and as a field assistant at Olduvai Gorge, but soon impressed him so much with her knowledge of African wildlife that he invited her to begin a study of the wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania. At the time, she had no academic qualifications and arrived at Gombe in July 1960 with her mother as chaperone, a cook and his family to establish what has come to be the longest continuous study of any animal species. She discovered much about the behavior of chimpanzees but most startling was her observation that they used tools to obtain food. Until then, it had been thought that what separated humans from other primates was their ability to use tools. She also discovered that chimpanzees could be as brutal as their human relatives engaging in inter-clan warfare and infanticide.
In 1965, Jane was awarded a Ph.D. in ethology by Cambridge University, only the eighth person to earn a doctorate from Cambridge without first taking a B.A. She has published her research in academic journals and has also stimulated public interest in wildlife research and conservation through her best-selling book-In the Shadow of Man. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute to support the continued research of wild chimpanzee populations. The Institute has since expanded its mission to include conservation and environmental education, welfare for captive chimpanzees, reforestation projects and natural resource management. Dr. Goodall continues to devote her considerable energy to encouraging people to show greater concern for wildlife and the environment.