Jane Goodall-Hanne Smith
Jane’s first National Geographic special aired when I was around 12 or 13 years old. It held me spellbound and set me on a path to enter Stanford University's human biology and primatology programs. My time with the baboons and chimps of Gombe provided me with the single most profound and influential learning experience of my life. I owe my understanding of primates, human and non-human--and my applications of that understanding--to Jane. In addition, the experience of living and traveling in Tanzania and Kenya opened my eyes to non-Western cultures and government systems. This added another layer of understanding to my life, which I also owe to her.
I have always admired Jane's determination and focus. Her out of the box perspective on primate behavior and individuality was refreshing and appropriate, and it helped to change the mechanistic perspective of the day. This was a huge contribution to science. Way to go, Jane! Later, her approaches to working with Tanzanian people in the environs of Gombe were innovative and provided good models for involving local people in the protection of vulnerable ecosystems. I appreciated her insight and was able to adapt some of her techniques and perspectives to challenges I faced in my own local area.
Thanks, Jane, you’ve made a difference!
Hanne Smith, one of the more than 30 Stanford undergraduates who spent six months doing field research at Gombe, was there from June to December in 1974.