The British primatologist is considered the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. She is also a world renowned animal activist.
The is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and has done extensive work on animal welfare and conservation issues.
Goodall said she was "a little startled" when she was asked if she would serve as Grand Marshal.
"As most of you know, I spent many, many years of my life out with the wild chimpanzees in Africa... Kind of different from Pasadena," she joked.
Goodall remarked that New Year's is about new beginnings and a chance to live life a little bit better.
"When I think of how the world was when I was a child... and what we have done to harm the planet since then, I feel a kind of desperation," Goodall said.
"But if we all get together, it's not too late to reverse this trend," she said.
She encouraged people to think about "the small choices we make," including what we eat, what we wear and how we get around.
"We would start making small changes which, as an individual, mean nothing, but as collectively around the planet more and more people think about the future, that's going to lead to the kind of change we need. And then, oh the places we can go!"
As Grand Marshal, Goodall will appear in the 2013 Rose Parade and at the Rose Bowl game
Last year's Grand Marshal was retired soldier and actor J.R. Martinez.