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Feature

Jane Goodall with chimp.

Jane Goodall's breakthrough research on chimpanzees will be accessible worldwide thanks to the work of U faculty.

Goodall research more accessible

Private gifts spur digitization of Jane Goodalls' research; software provides better access to data

From M, summer 2007

Nearly five decades of research material collected by famed primatologist Jane Goodall reside at the University--and access to the scientific treasure recently got a lot easier.

U ecologist Anne Pusey and computer scientists Shashi Shekhar and Jaideep Srivastava have developed a way to efficiently search the digitized archive of handwritten field notes, audio recordings, and some 600 hours of video footage from Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Private gifts have helped to start the digitization project, but more will be needed to complete it.

On a campus visit to test out the new software, which in part uses concept definition tags (for example, "aggression") to return search results, Goodall called the technology "extraordinary." She added, "Years and years of blood and toil, crawling through the forest, being scratched by thorns, having my hair caught have amazingly been amalgamated and will be useful to students all over the world."

Goodall hopes the new data analysis system will lead to more comprehensive and expedient studies of chimp behavior and attract researchers from diverse disciplines who "will ask new questions that maybe we wouldn't think of asking."