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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Silver Taps: Maria ‘Maya’ Stavrianakou

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When Maya Stavrianakou came to A&M from Greece at the age of 50, she brought with her years of knowledge and a compassionate nature.
Stavrianakou came to Texas A&M to study neuroscience a year and a half ago after a successful career in Greece. Mark Harlow, assistant professor in biology, was Stavrianakou’s mentor during her time at A&M. He said along with attending school in Greece, she also studied in Switzerland.
“She already had her Ph.D. in physics and had worked for 15 years developing software,” Harlow said. “That made for an unusual graduate student, that’s for sure.”
Harlow said her graduate school interview with him was enjoyable, and her enthusiasm for her work was quite clear.
Stavrianakou worked as a research assistant in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow in the 90s before attending school in Switzerland.
Huinan Li, Stavrianakou’s colleague, said she got along with everyone in the lab.
“She was so vibrant,” Li said. “She was very private, but was so friendly at the same time. Everyone felt welcome around her.”
Harlow said her talent was unmatched.
“She’s done fantastic work for us,” Harlow said. “She was so enthusiastic about it. Even when she decided to take up neuroscience in 2008, she excelled in the new field. We were finishing up a paper when she passed away, and it was truly beautiful work. It’s sad.”
Harlow said while Stavrianakou only had her mother after her father passed away when she was young and her sister died in a car accident a few years ago. She was still an uplifting person who always enjoyed doing things for others.
Harlow said Stavrianakou was well-known among her friends for her cooking.
“Every time the students would get done studying or working for a long period of time, they would get together and spend time together and Maya would cook a meal,” Harlow said.
Li said Stavrianakou was fond of art and dancing and spent most of her time in the lab telling her colleagues about her favorite art.
“Her favorite painting was ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ by Katsushika Hokusai,” Li said. “She loved that painting. Talked about it all the time.”
Harlow said one of the things he remembers most about Stavrianakou was that she was constantly giving, even in times of hard work.
“If there was a birthday in the lab, Maya would make sure it was celebrated,” Harlow said. “She would prepare a gift and coordinate with everyone to get it together.”

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