Meet Aviwe Matiwane, a black female palaeobotanist

Aviwe Matiwane on site, finding some wonderful fossil plants

Meet Aviwe Matiwane, a palaeobotanist, who takes us on a journey back in time, before dinosaurs walked the Earth, and tells us about how ancient forests and 260 million-year-old plants formed the coal we know today. She studies the fossils of these ancient forests and is trying to find the best way to name and describe these ancient plants.

Aviwe Matiwane is an Eastern Cape scientist with a great passion for palaeontology. Registered at Rhodes University as a PhD student in the botany department, she is doing her research at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown on plant fossils of the Permian Period (from over 251 million years ago). Matiwane’s work involves trying to solve a 200-year-old scientific problem: to determine the taxonomy of ancient fossil plants. “Species identification has proven to be subjective, inconsistent, and extremely challenging. My work considers new approaches,” says Matiwane. Her passion for her work and sharing it also led her to be selected as one of the top 10 finalists in the 2016 FameLab competition, the annual science communication competition run by the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement and Jive Media Africa. She was also chosen as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2018. She has also received accolades for her MSc and PhD research. Matiwane has a strong passion for science communication, education, and outreach and women empowerment. She is passionate about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She is inspired by her grandparents, Benjamin Matiwane and Nomzamo Matiwane. Follow Matiwane on her social media pages to track and be inspired by her developments and growth in the STEM sector.

Instagram: @lovely_bhedla@palaeo_botanists
Facebook: Aviwe Lwanda Nosipho Matiwane;
Department of Earth Sciences, Albany Museum
Twitter: @UdeMischa