Birutė Galdikas

Garbės daktarė / Honorary Doctor (Suteiktas vardas 2010-02-24)

Birutė Marija Galdikas is worldly renowned anthropologist, conservationist and the most famous researcher of orangutans of Lithuanian parentage. She is a specialist of contemporary primatology, conservationism and the author of several books relating to the endangered orangutan species. She was awarded with VMU honorary doctor’s regalia in 2010.

Prof. Birutė Galdikas was born on 10 May 1946 in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 1966, Galdikas earned her bachelor’s degrees in psychology in University of British Columbia and anthropology in 1969 (University of California). She earned her master’s degree in physical anthropology from UCLA in 1969 and her doctorate in anthropology in 1978.

Since 1979, she has been the professor of Universitas Nasional in Jakarta, Indonesia; from 1989, she is a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.

She was encouraged to study primates by famed British paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. From 1967 to 1979, she participated in archaeological excavations in Southern California and the Balkan countries.  In 1971, she arrived to Indonesia and established an orangutan observatory in the Tanjung Puting National Park.  She developed and implemented seven projects of orangutan research and conservation. In 1986, she founded Official Orangutan Foundation in Los Angeles; it has divisions in Indonesia, Australia, Canada and the Great Britain.

The life and works of Prof. Galdikas are described in six books and depicted in documentaries in Indonesia, Japana, USA, France, Italy and Australia.

On 6th of July, 2010, on the occasion of the Statehood Day (Coronation of King Mindaugas), the president of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė awarded VMU Honorary Doctor Prof. Birutė Galdikas with the Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania.

In the future, Galdikas is planning to develop communication with Vytautas Magnus University: to deliver an intensive course for VMU students and collaborate researching genetic polymorphism of Borneo orangutan population. She invites volunteers from Lithuania, including the students of VMU Faculty of Natural Sciences to work in Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine in Pasir Panjang. It is planned to plant Dr. B. Galdikas name oak forest in Kaunas Botanical Garden of Vytautas Magnus University.