November is here and this time we are interviewing Maritina Stavrakaki, a special member of our team – she’s not an intern, she’s not a full-time member but she’s continuing her research after finishing with her PhD really recently. The interesting fact is that Maritina manages to combine her research with the work that we are doing in Agro-Know, something that I personally find really interesting and challenging at the same time. Let’s see what Maritina has responded to our questions!
1. You are a special case in the AK team – the first PostDoc researcher around here! Would you like to share some info on how you took the decision to combine your research with Agro-Know’s activities ?
It was back in May 2013, I was in Rome for a project meeting, still a PhD candidate in Viticulture at the Agricultural University of Athens, I had just turned 30 and I remember thinking “now is the good decade, the good stuff is about to start now”… The idea for a post-doc dawned on me because I was trying to find a way to combine all my educational background and research with information and computer science, if possible. I am a keen learner, I always want to learn new things and having worked with Vassilis, Effie and other members of the AK team through the VOA3R project, and having seen up close and personal what it is they are doing, I thought to myself that something good is here with challenging potential. Nikos (Manouselis) was in Rome too at that time, and since we had already begun the collaboration for the VOA3R project, I approached him and asked him if there was any possibility that we could continue our collaboration under the umbrella of a post-doc project after I finished my PhD dissertation. He replied that we could definitely come up with something. And we did 🙂
2. What is your educational background and which is your current role in the Agro-Know team?
I am a certified agriculturist/agronomist, since I hold a BSc degree in Crop Science and Engineering, a Msc degree in Viticulture & Enology and since July, I am a proud holder of a PhD in Viticulture, all acquired from the Agricultural University of Athens. So I have joined in a more official manner the AK team as a Viticultural Research Fellow, or a Viticultural Specialist if you prefer, with the Agro-Know R&D Department, and I will offer my expertise and help in the various Agro-Know departments and at the same time, I will try and learn many interesting and new things and tricks from everyone within Agro-Know.
3. What do you find interesting in your work with AK so far? Do you see any challenges in your daily routine at the office?
I have never worked for a company before, meaning I have previous professional experience through the many scientific projects I have participated in with the Laboratory of Viticulture, but never in a company like Agro-Know, so everything is new and exciting and interesting to me. I have the opportunity to work with highly creative, professional and driven guys, and it is the perfect opportunity for me to distance myself from the university/student point of view and see what it is like out there in the real world. It’s more like someone told me “let’s see what you are made of” and this, on its own, is very challenging on a daily basis!
4. You have a strong experience in viticulture, thanks to your studies; do you find the opportunities to combine them with your work here?
I think that since Agro-Know, as its name suggests, is actively involved in the world of Agriculture, and since Viticulture is a major sector of Agriculture itself, I believe that there will be many opportunities for me to combine my expertise as an Agriculturist with my work in Agro-Know. At least that is the general idea and my goal. And worst case scenario, if I don’t find the opportunities, I will create them! 😉
5. You were actively involved in VOA3R, one really interesting ICT-PSP project which focused on open access for agricultural research outcomes. What is your opinion about open access in general? Have you faced any access restrictions to scientific publications as a young researcher?
All young researchers, at one point or the other, will eventually have to face access restrictions to scientific publications. Many online journals turn on and off their subscriptions with greek universities due to financial and other reasons, but the problem remains for the young researchers, especially when they are pressed with strict deadlines for their thesis and they have no way of accessing the information they want. So the VOA3R project helped me understand what open access means, and that it doesn’t matter how much research you make, how many data you have, how many papers you have written, unless you can share it openly with everyone. Of course there are many mandates and regulations as to what is considered open access and how we can protect the scientific works (copyrights etc) but I am in favour of open access as a whole philosophy.
6. What are your hobbies / How do you spend your free time?
I am a complete movies addict and so I try to stay up to date with all the films hitting the big screen as well as foreign tv series, I play a couple of sports like basketball, volleyball and football and I also practice my Kung Fu skills.
7. Where can we find you online?
8. Favorite kind of music?
I generally listen to all kind of music (rock, pop, dance, greek etc), except maybe for the very heavy “laika” or the very heavy hard metal music. But I totally enjoy listening to disco music and oldies music (80’s, 70’s etc). Lately I’ve been listening to Self Control, by Laura Branigan, reminiscing the old GTA days.. 😉
9. Which was the last book you read / movie you watched?
The last book I read, which felt like a movie, was Inferno by Dan Brown. Ok, it is not exactly winning-a-Nobel-Prize material but still ideal for summertime. I see so many movies all the time that it is difficult to keep track of the last one, but I think it must have been “Deux jours, une nuit” with Marion Cotillard (who is by the way for once more absolutely amazing), a simple, touching, cruel but also realistic story about a mother who discovers that her colleagues have opted for a pay bonus in exchange for her dismissal, and who has only a weekend at her disposal to convince her colleagues to give up the bonus so that she can keep her job.
10. What was the last gadget you bought and why you bought it?
I am a total gadget person and like to get my hands on anything gadget-wise. The last gadget I bought worth mentioning was my smartphone, an iPhone 5s, which I brought back with me from my last year’s trip to the United States. As for why I bought it, I really cannot put it down in words..
11. Anything else to share with us?
Yes.. “I know Kung Fu” !!.. 😉
Thank you Vassilis for a cool and interesting interview. Until the next one!
I would like to thank Maritina for taking the time to provide us with her responses for this mini-interview and confirm that we are really happy to have her in the team 🙂