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Dr. Larios-Sanz Explains Intricate Details of Life

View a general biology class on the nature of the cell and learn more about how Dr. Maia Larios-Sanz, an assistant professor in the Biology Department at University of St. Thomas, who inspires her students with her own passion for the subject.

Larios-Sanz says general biology is one of her favorite classes to teach.

In this class, students build on their critical thinking skills as they are exposed to the scientific method and learn to appreciate life and its many intricate details and processes. In the unit profiled here, students are introduced to the many sub-compartments of animal and plant cells.

“They get a feel for the types of jobs carried out by each part of the cell, how their shape fit their function, and how everything is interconnected, “Larios-Sanz said.   “Students get to see the big picture after they analyze each component. They appreciate the sophisticated and highly coordinated mechanisms that make a single cell work, and how that contributes to the general well being of a whole organism. They see how it all ties together and how important each part is to the workings of life processes.”

A native of Mexico City, Larios-Sanz joined the UST faculty in 2006 after earning her doctorate at the University of Houston and then completing her post-doctoral education at Rice University.

Larios is also the Service Learning Coordinator in the Department of Biology. Together with her colleagues, she is working towards incorporating Service Learning across the biology curriculum. These opportunities are already available in General Biology II, Medical Microbiology and Cell Biology.

“What I like about St. Thomas is that the small classes really give me a chance to interact with each and every student,” she said. “Being a professor, I have the best job I could ever want. Not only am I working in a field that I love, but I get to teach students who are eager to learn. It’s amazing to me to see the quality of students who come to UST.”

When she’s not teaching courses on general biology, bioinformatics or microbiology, Larios-Sanz says she stays busy at home with her husband and children, ages 7, 5 and 2.

“If I weren’t a professor and if I could have my biggest wish, I would want to be an astronaut,” she said with a laugh. “Obviously it’s not very realistic for me now, but it’s something I always wanted to do as a kid. I love the idea of discovering new places and seeing our planet from an entirely different perspective.”

Students interested in majoring in biology can call Dr. Larios-Sanz at 713-831-7866 or