Dear colleagues and students
The Vice-Chancellor’s Inaugural Lecture series is a central part of academic life at the University of Cape Town (UCT). It is one of the events we have had to reimagine as we navigate a new environment. These lectures are held to commemorate the lecturer’s appointment to full professorship. They serve as a platform for the academic to deliver, in an accessible way, a lecture that imparts an idea of the body of their research to members of the wider university community and the general public.
I am excited to invite you to the next Vice-Chancellor’s Inaugural Lecture, which will be presented online by Professor Muthama Muasya. His lecture is titled “Biodiversity studies in the Anthropocene: from species discovery in fragmented landscapes to unravelling the origin of iconic African flora”.
Professor Muasya is an internationally recognised plant taxonomist and evolutionary biologist. The lecture will showcase species discovery in the Cape flora and highlight the evolution of the savanna – the cradle of humankind – and other iconic African flora.
Africa has much to reveal about life on earth. Knowing the evolutionary history of species, past and present, is essential for sustainable use of our shared biodiversity resources. New species continue to be discovered, especially in the southern hemisphere, but the race to find them is impeded by large-scale changes in land use and the global impacts of climate change in Anthropocene – our current geological epoch, dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems.
While growing up in rural Kenya, Professor Muasya established a passion for the local plants and animals at an early age. He obtained a PhD from the University of Reading in 1998 and began his research career at the National Museums of Kenya. For the past 15 years he has been a member of the Faculty of Science at UCT, teaching undergraduate courses at all levels and mentoring more than 25 postgraduate students.
Professor Muasya is a leader on the systematics of the plant family Cyperaceae (or sedges). He has described three genera and over 100 species new to science, and is part of a team studying the evolution of the Cape and African flora. He is deeply involved in biodiversity policy advocacy and professional societies in South Africa and internationally, notably on the Council of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy.
We look forward to the lecture.
When: Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Time: 18:00 SAST
Platform: Microsoft Teams
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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