About Us – Meet The Team

The EpiCenterLA
Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide practical information in new and innovative ways for those interested in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Covered topics include cyberthreats, epidemics, terrorism, hospital-acquired infections such as C.difficile, disaster communication, sister cities working together with Los Angeles, urban planning for disasters, and a calendar of related events. We host a website, EpiCenterLA.org, that is continually updated and contains background as well as new information on disasters and related topics.  It includes text, video and infographics.  We provide original content essays on the website as issues come up. Our target audience goes from trained first responders to the general population. 

Meet The Team

Welcome to the team! 

Dr. Peter Katona

Team Lead

Dr. Peter Katona is Clinical Professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Adjunct Professor of Public Health in epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. He has worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an EIS Officer studying viral diseases and doing epidemic investigation; and at Apria/Corum/CVS Healthcare as their Corporate Medical Director. He is an internationally recognized authority on bioterrorism and has lectured throughout the world on this topic. 

Meredith Steinberg


Meredith is a fourth-year Human Biology and Society major and Public Health minor. She plans to pursue a career in social epidemiology and conduct research in the future. 

Meredith’s interests outside school include hiking with friends and going to the beach.



Andy Shen is a fourth-year statistics major with a minor in mathematics. In the future, Andy hopes to earn his PhD in Statistics and either become a professor or do data-driven work for programs involving national security. 

Andy is also a Resident Assistant for UCLA Residential Life. 


web Developer

Henry Liang is currently a third year undergraduate at UCLA. He is an applied math major, doing research in the areas of predictive modeling and health sciences. 

He loves going to the gym and doing motorsports. 

Carolyn Moor


Carolyn is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Statistics and minoring in Geographic Information Systems and Technologies. She hopes to pursue a career in data science and analytics. In addition to academics, Carolyn is on the UCLA Club Lacrosse team and enjoys spending her free time exploring Los Angeles. 




Lauren is a third-year Human Biology and Society major and Applied Developmental Psychology minor. She is passionate about bioethical applications to social science and plans to pursue a career as a future healthcare physician.

During her free time, Lauren is a foodie enthusiast who loves hiking near the beach, fostering kittens, and creating mini DIY projects.



Evelyn is a third-year undergrad at UCLA majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She is incredibly passionate about the societal impacts of climate change, and firmly believes that effective marketing is the solution to achieving the cultural groundswell and political momentum to create change. In the future, she hopes to eventually pursue a career in the field of sustainable marketing.



Jessica is a third-year student, planning to major in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She wants to become a pharmacist in the future. She loves learning about social, health, and environmental issues concerning the youth. In her free time, she loves to play with her dog, cook food, and watch documentaries.

Kenneth Thai


Kenneth Thai is a second-year undergraduate student at UCLA  pursuing a major in Biology and possibly Human Biology and Society. He is extremely passionate about advocating for equitable access to healthcare. In the future, he hopes to become an emergency/family medicine physician. 
Outside of academics, Kenny is a devout foodie and loves to explore and try new foods!



Ellis Kim is a sophomore at UCLA majoring in Education and Social Transformation and on the Pre-med Track. She aspires to be a child psychiatrist and to help make new policies in the nation’s Education system.
Ellis loves making youtube videos and filming lookbooks.



Harlene is a third-year undergraduate at UCLA majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Neuroscience. She hopes to attend medical school in the future to pursue a career as a health-care physician. In her free time, Harlene likes to go on drives, find new coffee shops, and listen to crime podcasts. 

Nazrin Rustamzade


Nazrin is a third-year Human Biology and Society and Political Science double major. She hopes to earn an MPH degree and pursue a career in healthcare management and policymaking. Outside of school, Nazrin is passionate about cooking, baking, and learning new languages. 

Kevin Zhang


Kevin is a fourth-year Biology undergraduate at UCLA. His joy is to organize free health screenings and a phone service for linguistically isolated immigrants in Los Angeles. He is an enthusiast for cutting edge science and after previously shadowing and interning, now works part-time in the pharmaceutical industry.

Sophia Gonzales


Sophie is a second year biochemistry major drawn to the intersection of graphic design with scientific research and information. In particular, she aims to employ design to make difficult scientific concepts and research more understandable to the general public. Although uncertain about her future, she would like to conduct disease or viral research. In her free time, Sophie enjoys trips to coffee shops and spending time with friends.

Sarah Fazio


Sarah Fazio is a first-year undergraduate planning to major in statistics. In the future, she intends to pursue a career in data science or biotechnology. Outside of school, she likes to run, listen to Taylor Swift, and watch Warriors basketball. 

Natan Hekmatjah

Active alumni

Natan graduated in 2019 as a Psychobiology major from UCLA. He hopes of attending medical school to become a future health-care physician. An interesting fact about Natan is that his name is spelled the same forwards and backwards!

Jessica Irvine

active alumni

Jessica Irvine graduated in 2020 from UCLA with a degree in Psychobiology and minor in Public Health. She aspires to become a physician. 

 Jessica has a passion for travel. She went to Tanzania in 2018 and is eager to explore as many new destinations as she can.



active alumni

Sarita Lee is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Statistics who is super passionate about applying statistics to public health applications. Her research interests include public health policy and using mathematical modeling and data analysis methods for disaster situations. 

Sarita also loves teaching others how to salsa dance.

Samira Mosalla

active alumni

Samira Mosalla graduated in March 2020. She is taking a gap year to study for the MCAT, so that she can apply to PA programs. Her goal is to become a Physician Assistant although she have not yet chosen a specialty. She interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Emergency. 

In her free time she likes to cook and go on hikes.



Alexandra Dove

Plans to attend medical school in the future and work in the emergency room. She also would like to practice wilderness medicine and combine her love for the outdoors with science. Alexandra loves to travel and when she was twelve she hiked a volcano in Guatemala where they roasted marshmallows over the lava.


Dina Simon

Graduated as an Economics major and  Neuroscience minor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Due to her interest in public health, medicine, and business, in the future, she hopes to pursue a MPH, MD, MBA, or some combination of the three. Outside of school, she enjoys learning new languages and is currently studying Japanese.


Jose Barrera

Graduated as a Biophysics major and a Spanish minor with aspirations of aiding in disaster relief by conducting search and rescue efforts with Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams as a physician. Apart from being a student, José was an amateur boxer for the UCLA Boxing team and continues to box in his free time.


Aaron Knuteson

Graduated as a Pscyhobiology  student at UCLA. He plans to attend medical school in the near future and hopes to further integrate stem cell biology with medicine. His main focuses were gun violence and the anti-vaxxer movement. In his free time, Aaron swims for the UCLA Club Swim Team and helps run a non-profit named “The Bruin Experiment.” 



Graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a degree in Economics, and plans to attend medical school. A fun fact about Marissa is that she is a dual citizen in the United States and Luxembourg.


Yousof Fawzy

Graduated as a Physiological Science major. He has worked in the Emergency Medical Services special event division for over three years. He plans to attend medical school and specialize in Emergency Medicine. Yousof’s interests reside in integrating clinical medicine and public health with an emphasis on disaster preparedness.

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