About Us

Sonya Chapnick

2020 Science Slam Chair

Sonya holds a degree in environmental biology, and loves exploring and sharing the mystery in all living things, including human physiology.  She's a certified yoga therapist and a proud and happy mom of two girls, one who is a 4th grader at Westwood Charter.

Erina Vlashi

Future 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 a WestWood Charter.

Beth Cheung

Past Chair

Beth has a background in mechanical and bioengineering, and is currently an Associate Professor of Engineering and Department Chair at Los Angeles Pierce College.  Beth has two children who attend Westwood Charter.


Karen Cavassani

Volunteer Coordinator

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.

Nina Nattiv

Volunteer Coordinator

Nina Nattiv has BA in molecular and cell biology from UC Berkeley. She currently practices dentistry at her own dental practice. She loves doing science experiments with her daughters, who are in Kindergarten at Westwood Charter Elementary.

Ronit Berkovich

Volunteer Coordinator

Ronit has been connected to her scientific side as a microbiologist in the pharmaceutical industry. She holds a BS in Biology and is currently exploring her artistic side with her online Etsy shop "RonitDesigns." She has one daughter at Westwood Charter and another daughter at LACES.

Elaine Hsieh

Volunteer Coordinator

Elaine is trained in molecular biology and pediatric hematology/oncology. She has two children, a 5th grader at Westwood Charter and an 8th grader at Emerson Middle School. As part of the Science Slam Committee, Elaine looks forward to collaborating with Westwood Charter parents to share the wonders of science with all of our children.

Heidi Cruz

Treasurer & 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 2nd grader at WWC.

Diana Fung


Diana believes that today’s young scientists are tomorrow’s leaders. With a B.A. in Journalism from the U.S.C School of Communications, her closest space encounter was flying Concorde at Mach 2 or twice the speed of sound when she handled the aircraft’s Farewell Tour for British Airways. She has a 3rd grader at WWC. 

Mary Susselman

Logistics Coordinator

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 oldest of two daughters is in 1st grade at Westwood Charter.

Michelle Lum

Logistics Coordinator

Michelle has her PhD in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and is a faculty member in the Biology Department at Loyola Marymount University, where she enjoys teaching and studying plant-microbe interactions with her students. She has a daughter in 4th grade at Westwood Charter.

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. 

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Science Slam is  an annual parent organized event endorsed by Westwood Charter School.  This website is owned and operated by a parent steering committee, not by Westwood Charter School.