Aviwe Matiwane


Aviwe Matiwane

You know the feeling you get when you open a present? You have no idea what you are going to get, but the mystery and excitement is overwhelming. That is how I feel when I split a rock apart and find a fossil plant!

Fossilised plants

It was my grandfather who introduced me to plants, he is a herbalist. I started going to the forest with him at a young age to get medicinal plants, he taught me which ones were useful. However, I had no idea that I could pursue a career in plant sciences. It was only when I got to varsity and botany was one of my electives, I got hooked. The rest is history. I came across palaeobotany when I started volunteering at the Albany Museum with Dr Rose Prevec (my supervisor) – I realized how much I enjoyed and love doing the work and going into the field with her. Then I decided after my Masters degree I would pursue a career in this field. I absolutely love what I do, and that’s why I’m involved in outreach in diverse communities.

Aviwe observing the landscape

My research involves finding the best descriptive features to identify and name these fossil plants. I hope to standardise the approach used to describe these fossils.

I’m also describing the flora of the middle Permian era in South Africa because not much is known about the fossil plants of this period. I’m currently the recipient of a PhD scholarship from the Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences. I’ve received awards for both my PhD research and the work I was doing during my MSc.

Follow me on twitter (@UdeMischa) and Instagram (@lovely_bhedla or @palaeo_botanists)

I love being a scientist because...

I get to find solutions to questions that many people ask. I also get to work with fossil plants.

The most awesome thing I have done so far is...

Completing in FameLabSA and making it to the top 10 national finalists.

My heroes are...

My grandfather.

Advice I would give my 7 year old self...

Love yourself, do not pretend to be anything you are not, and do not let others put you down.

At primary school my favourite thing to do was...

Playing with puppies and solving crossword puzzles.

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