Photo credit: Michael Neugebauer

Scripps Nierenberg Prize Awarded to Renowned Primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall

Annual award recognizes science in the public interest

The fourth annual award honoring the memory of William A. Nierenberg, who led Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, as director for more than two decades, will be awarded to celebrated primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Goodall will receive the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest during a ceremony on Friday, April 30, at 7:15 p.m. in front of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Goodall will be presented with a medal and $25,000. The award ceremony will be followed by "Reasons for Hope," a free public presentation and a book signing with Goodall.

"Jane Goodall has devoted her life to studying and caring for chimpanzees and to raising our awareness of the connectedness of all living things," said Scripps Director Charles Kennel. "Her awe-inspiring half century of work as a scientist, and her vision of the future as a U.N. Messenger of Peace, make her an ideal recipient of the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest."

Goodall's work in East Africa redefined the relationship between humans and animals, and her revolutionary research lent great insight into the evolutionary past of humans. Under the mentorship of anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey, Goodall traveled to Tanzania, Africa in 1960 to begin studying wild chimpanzees at the Gombe Stream Reserve.

Within her first year in Gombe, Goodall made several important findings. She discovered that chimps, previously thought to be vegetarians, were meat eaters. Most importantly, Goodall witnessed their ability to make tools-challenging the belief that this behavior distinguished humans from animals. Goodall documented the social organization of chimps in the wild, defying scientific standards by giving the chimps names instead of numbers. She revealed chimpanzees' complex social behavior and hierarchy, and later made the unsettling discovery that chimpanzees engage in primitive and brutal warfare.

In 1965 Goodall earned her Ph.D. in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from England's Cambridge University. Soon thereafter, she returned to Tanzania and founded the Gombe Stream Research Centre. Today a skilled team of researchers and field assistants, including many Tanzanians, continue Dr. Goodall's research at the Centre, which also is a training ground for primatology students.

In 1977, Goodall created the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit that has helped establish a worldwide network of individuals committed to improving life on Earth. Through research, conservation, and education programs, JGI is "creating healthy ecosystems, promoting sustainable livelihoods and nurturing new generations of committed, active citizens around the world."

In April 2002, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Goodall a United Nations "Messenger of Peace." U.N. Messengers help mobilize the public to become involved in work that makes the world a better place. In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II named Dr. Goodall a Dame of the British Empire, the female equivalent of knighthood. Goodall has received countless awards and honors, including the Medal of Tanzania, the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal, Japan's prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research 2003, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, and the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence.
Goodall's work has captured the hearts and attention of the public, allowing people worldwide to explore and discover the mysterious world of chimpanzees.

The Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest is named for William Nierenberg (1919-2000), a renowned national science leader, who served Scripps Institution as director from 1965 to 1986. The recipient of numerous awards and honors for professional research and public service, Nierenberg was widely known for a long record of national and international service. He served on various panels of the Presidents' Science Advisory Committee. A leading expert in several fields of
underwater research and warfare, Nierenberg was also known for his work in low-energy nuclear physics. Past winners of the prize include Jane Lubchenco, Walter Cronkite, and E.O. Wilson.
Seating for the presentation is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

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For more information about Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute, please visit

About Scripps Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

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