One of the biggest influences in my career as a biologist is Dr. Jane Goodall. She inspired my love for animals at a very young age. When I was a child, I read her series of books that focused on African mammals which I still have on my bookshelf to this day.
Recognized for her work as a primatologist, her focus was studying chimpanzees in Tanzania. Her research found that chimpanzees have complex social behavior and communication. In addition, she was the first scientist to observe chimpanzees eating meat. Until then, it was assumed that they were primarily herbivorous. However, her most famous finding was that chimpanzees use tools. At that point in history, tool making was thought to be exclusively a human trait, to distinguish humans from animals. This finding was ground breaking and altered the perception of primates.
With her success, she established the Gombe Reserve in Tanzania for conservation and research of chimpanzees. Currently, Dr. Goodall is focused less on research and more on conservation of chimpanzees and other endangered animals. She successfully established her non-profit organization, the Jane Goodall Institute which runs grass-roots campaigns throughout the globe to aid in conservation as well as public awareness of animal rights.
I am always in awe of her work both past and present. Dr. Goodall is a true hero and my respect for her only continues to grow. She is still a trailblazer at the age of 85! Happy Birthday Dr. Goodall! Thank you for inspiring the young biologist in me.