The Sunday News
Belinda Moyo, Sunday News reporter
A 29-YEAR-OLD Bulawayo woman flew the country’s flag high in Albuquerque, New Mexico in America where she scooped the Scientist from Economically Developing Nations award recently.
Hazel Taruvinga from Entumbane submitted an abstract for presentation at the 78th annual meeting for the Society of vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) which was selected among the 11 other abstracts which were presented at the conference. A total of 860 abstracts were submitted to the Society of vertebrate Paleontology and only 12 were selected for presentation of which Hazel’s stood the best.
Vertebrate paleontology is the study of prehistoric species. It reveals crucial information about planet Earth’s nature, both past and present and its incredibility. It unearths the history of millions of living creatures, including people. It helps scientists understand how humans came into being as well as the changing of climate.
In an interview with Sunday Life, Taruvinga said she was overwhelmed for being the first female and the only African who won an award.
“I was overwhelmed for being the first female and the only African who got the Scientist from Developing Nations award. Despite that at least 1 440 people attended from all over the world, I felt challenged being the only Zimbabwean,” she said.
She added that as an A-level certificate holder she never stopped researching to further her science studies and the zeal lured her to join a team of palaeontologists led by Chris Griffin from an American University.
“After my A-level I did not find the opportunity to go to university but this did not stop me from researching more about the science world. In 2014 as I worked at the Bulawayo museum I took advantage of the coming in of a student from America who was doing his research on geology. I wrote an article called the ‘The giants of the earth’ which I submitted to Sunday News.
This year I joined a team of palaeontologists led by Chris Griffin from the American University and I discovered a species called cynodont (an extinct mammal relative).
“I conducted a research project with Christopher Griffin on the identification and description of a Zimbabwean cynodont. I was awarded a Scientist from Developing Nations travel grant through the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology to present a poster on the cynodont research at the 2018 SVP annual meeting in New Mexico where I scooped an award for the first Scientist from Economically Developing Nations,” she said.
She lobbied the Government to consider having palaeontology in local universities.
“I believe other countries have taken palaeontology as a field and in some countries it is in their school curriculum. Just like geologists or mammalogists or entomology, the Government should consider having palaeontology in our universities, at least in one local. Palaeontology helps us understand how the human body came into being,” she said.