About Us

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Mary Susselman

2022 Chair: marykws@gmail.com

Mary received her BS in Psychobiology at UCLA and completed her Nuclear Medicine Technology internship at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She is currently an Associate Chief Nuclear Medicine and MRI Technologist at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center. Mary's daughters are in kindergarten and 3rd grade. 

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Bisrat Gee

Future Chair/Logistics

Bisrat has a degree in Bioengineering and a MS  in Mechanical Engineering.   As an engineer, she was responsible for developing medical devices like stents, pacemakers, and implantable drug pumps. Currently, she heads a consulting firm providing med tech companies strategic expertise in the development and implementation of clinical research trials. 

She has a daughter in 3rd grade at WWC and another daughter who is a 6th grader at the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) STEM school.

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Erina Vlashi

Past Chair

Erina studies cell biology and drug development and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at UCLA. Erina has one son at Westwood Charter.

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Karen Cavassani

Logistics

Karen has a background in cellular immunology and is currently a Project Scientist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center where she is studying the role of immune cells in prostate cancer progression. Karen has two children who attend Westwood Charter.

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Heidi Cruz

Technology guru

Heidi is a technology lover who works in advertising. She enjoys board & video games, art and science-fiction. She'd like to make a science-fiction experiment for Science Slam, but her teleportation experiments have been unsuccessful. Her daughter is a 4th grader at WWC.

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Nina Nattiv

Volunteer Coordinator

Nina has has a BA in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. Currently she practices dentistry at her own dental practice.  She loves doing science experiments with her daughters who are in first grade at Westwood Charter.

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Sara Medifar

Treasurer

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Pooja Kulkarni

Raffle/Tshirt/Passport Coordinator

Pooja Nawathe MD, FAAP, FCCM, CHSE-A, CHSOS is a Pediatric Critical Care physician by background. She finished her fellowship at Columbia University, New York, then worked as a junior faculty at Columbia University. 

She is presently the Associate Director of the Congenital Cardiac ICU at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Medical Director of Simulation, Department of Pediatrics. She has a 5th grader- Vihaan in Ms. Garringer's class and a 3rd grader- Arya in Ms. Smith's class. 

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Carlos Alcala

Volunteer/Experiment Coordinator

Carlos has a degree in Economics from UC Irvine and is a licensed commercial Drone pilot and unmanned vehicle researcher. He received his flight and aeronautical training from the US Air Force as an officer, the FAA Wings program, and with other organizations such as NASA and the various government agencies. Carlos also has experience working for lab testing companies and is a certified gemologist. 

He has a daughter in 2nd grade at WWC who aspires to become a geologist and/or a veterinarian. Carlos and his daughter spent most of the pandemic doing difficult science experiments in search of new ways to use geological materials. Carlos and his daughter also firmly adhere to the NASA 8 step Engineering Design Process. 

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Jenny Rosenberg

Volunteer Coordinator

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Christina Close

Teacher representative

Christina is a Family 4-5 teacher and serves the critical role of liaison between the Science Slam steering committee and the teachers and staff at Westwood Charter.