The Tang Prize Foundation yesterday named English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall as the winner of the fourth Tang Prize in sustainable development.
The award recognizes Goodall for her “groundbreaking discovery in primatology that redefines human-animal relationship and for her lifelong, unparalleled dedication to the conservation of Earth’s environment,” the Taipei-based foundation’s award citation said.
Goodall began studying primates in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, in 1960 at the age of 26, after she obtained a grant under the auspices of anthropologist Louis Leakey.
“Her discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools rocked the scientific world and redefined the relationship between humans and animals,” it said.
Goodall observed and recorded chimpanzee behavior, such as making small tools to probe termite tunnels, gesturing to each other with actions such as begging with outstretched hands, patting and embracing, which provided a “firm basis” for a wide range of evolutionary theorizing, the foundation said.
Goodall, 86, has established several institutions and programs for studying wildlife and promoting environmental conservation, including the Gombe Stream Research Center (1965), the Jane Goodall Institute (1977), which established a branch in Taiwan in 1998, and the Roots and Shoots Program (1991), which has branches in more than 100 nations, including Taiwan.
Goodall has won numerous awards and recognition, including the Gold Medal Award from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2006. She was named a UN Messenger of Peace in 2002.
She continues to travels the world to speak about the threats facing chimpanzees, environmental crises and the collective power of individual actions.
Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), chairman of the Ruentex Group, established the biennial Tang Prize in 2012, to honor people who have made prominent contributions in four categories: sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, Sinology and rule of law.
Winners of the prize receive a cash award of NT$40 million (US$1.35 million) and NT$10 million in research funding, along with a gold medal and a certificate.
Former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland won the first Tang Prize in sustainable development in 2014, followed by US physicist Arthur Rosenfeld in 2016, and James Hansen, director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, director of the Center for Clouds, Chemistry and Climate at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 2018.
The foundation is to announce the winner of biopharmaceutical science today, followed by Sinology on tomorrow and rule of law on Sunday.
The award ceremony and related events are to be held in late September in Taipei.
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