R. Natalie P. Goodall Foundation (RNP)
for Research in Southernmost South America


Who is Natalie Goodall ?

A farm girl from near Lexington, Ohio, Rae Natalie Prosser won an art scholarship to Kent State University, where she received a BS in education, biology and art and a MA in biology. Wanting to travel, she taught for Mobil Oil de Venezuela in Barinas and Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. There, she collected and illustrated plants and traveled extensively in Venezuela, Colombia and the Caribbean islands. Later, she and a fellow teacher visited the west coast of South America. Inspired by a book on Tierra del Fuego, Uttermost Part of the Earth by E. Lucas Bridges, she extended her trip southward to 'Fireland', where she met her future husband, Thomas D. Goodall, a great nephew of the author and manager of Estancia Harberton, featured in the book. He went to the US to marry her in 1963.

Estancia life and flora
Living at Harberton on the eastern Beagle Channel, one of the world's southernmost and most isolated farms, she ran a home, cooked on a wood-burning stove, raised two daughters, studied Fuegian history and began collecting and illustrating the native flora. Her first grant from National Geographic Society in 1971 provided a truck and her first assistant; her research on the flora began in earnest, with expeditions to areas remote even in Tierra del Fuego, eventually climbing 27 mountains in search of rare plants and hiking miles of beaches. She built up a personal herbarium of some 7000 specimens of about 500 species, with duplicates sent to institutions on three continents. This work resulted in several scientific papers, the illustrations for the book Flora of Tierra del Fuego, one-man shows and drawings in the collection of the Hunt Botanical Library in Pittsburgh.

In 1978, a road was built from Harberton to the main highway of Tierra del Fuego, Ruta 3, permitting much easier access to the rest of the island. The 85 kms to Ushuaia, where the Goodalls built a house so that their daughters could attend school, now took one and a half hours. Prior to this, access was by a four-seater Cessna, a 6-8 hour trip over a precarious road, or four-hour trip by boat.

In 1982, a new research center, the Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC) opened in Ushuaia and Natalie was employed under contract for three two-year periods. The remainder of her scientific work in Tierra del Fuego (31 years) has been ad-honorem.

Marine mammals
While looking for plants, Goodall picked up several beach-worn skulls of dolphins. They turned out to be extremely rare, so she went back to find more. In 1976, this developed into full-scale research on the smaller cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, beaked whales) of southernmost South America, a project which continues today. 

With the help of co-workers, students and volunteers, she studies the basic biology of marine mammals and birds that strand on the beaches or are taken accidentally in fishing nets. This has resulted in collections of over 2200 skeletons of mammals and 2000 of birds, some 60 papers (including chapters in several books), 70 abstracts and over 60 papers given at conferences. Her 'opportunistic' research has been financed with grants from the National Geographic Society, other organizations and personal funds. She is an 'invited expert' to scientific meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and other international organizations. 

The knowledge of the birds and mammals of Tierra del Fuego led to a series of environmental studies for international oil companies based on the island. This led to the ACATUSHUN BONE MUSEUM, a building donated by Total Austral S.A., Propak Systems Argentina S.A. and the Fondation Total D' Enterprise of France to house the skeletal collections at Estancia Harberton, inaugurated on 10 March 2001.

During the isolation of the early years at Harberton, Natalie became fascinated with the history of Tierra del Fuego, especially the early explorers passing by, the shipwrecks, the natives and the early permanent settlers. In addition to the library of her husband's family, she began collecting books on the area and spends some time each year in historical research. A chapter in a book and a number of articles have been published and more are planned.

Popular works
In her early days, there were no maps of the area available to the public, so she made one. Finding no publishers interested in Tierra del Fuego, she began her own small publishing company, Ediciones Shanamaiim. Her Tierra del Fuego map was printed in 1969 and has had updates and many reprints. Her bilingual guidebook, Tierra del Fuego (fourth edition in preparation) is required reading in local schools. Other items and articles highlight the flora, fauna and history of the area. 
Natalie often serves as a naturalist lecturer aboard cruise ships visiting southern South America. She organizes historical tours, trains guides and runs a tea room at her home, Estancia Harberton, the oldest farm in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, now a National Historical Monument, which is open to the public from October to April. 

Natalie Goodall is an ad-honorem research associate of the:

Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia, Buenos Aires.
Museo del Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego.
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (ex-National Museum of NZ).
Museo de la Ciudad, Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego.
Long Marine Lab, University of California Santa Cruz
Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego.
She is an 'Investigadora Independiente Ad-honorem' of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), the Argentine national science foundation.

Some of her recent honors

Premio Albatros , Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia, San Juan Bosco, 1983.
Invited international member, The Society of Woman Geographers, 1984
Faro del Fin del Mundo, award from the goverment of Tierra del Fuego, 1994
Invited International Fellow, Explorers Club of New York, 1995.
Gold Medal, The Society of Woman Geographers, 1996.
Ohio Women´s Hall of Fame, 1996.
Doctorate in Science Honoris Causa, Kent State University, 1997.
Special Achievement Award, Kent State University Alumnae, 1997.
Pink Carnation Award, highest award of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, 1998.

The Goodalls´ two daughters, sons-in-law and six grandchildren all live in Tierra del Fuego.


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Copyright © 2001 Fundación R. Natalie P. Goodall
Last modification: 17/07/03