Our Board

Kathryn Zavala
Co-President

Kathryn Zavala is the Program Director for MedTech Innovator, a nonprofit global competition and accelerator for medical device, diagnostics, and digital health startups. She received her BS from UC Berkeley, where she majored in Molecular and Cell Biology and Rhetoric and earned her PhD in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA. Kathryn previously held a position as Senior Technology Fellow at the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property, where she assisted with the commercialization of university technologies. At Campbell Alliance, Kathryn developed commercial strategies for biopharma clients. Through her involvement in AWIS LAVC, she is committed to fostering professional development for women, as they are critical in sustaining a healthy talent pool to support the science and technology industries in LA and beyond.

Co-President
Martina DeSalvo
Co-President

Martina DeSalvo is a Licensing Associate in Business Development at Amgen. She received her BA in Molecular and Cell Biology and Italian Studies from UC Berkeley and earned her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA. While at UCLA, Martina was a lead coordinator for Advancing Women in Science and Engineering (AWiSE) and Brain Awareness Week (BAW). She launched AWiSE STEM Day, a program that brings over 100 underserved middle school girls to UCLA to learn about science through hands-on activities. While in graduate school, Martina completed an internship on Amgen’s Neuroscience Regional Medical Liaison team, where she identified opportunities to enhance communication between internal and external stakeholders and designed new strategies to improve this process. As AWIS LA/VC Co-President, Martina supports our strong LA/VC network by connecting women through career development, mentoring and outreach events.

Co-President
Liana Bates
Vice President of Finance

Dr. Liana Bates has a mixed experience in biomedical research, intellectual property protection, as well as business development. She currently works at Tarcine BioMed USA, focusing on exploring collaborations with global companies by introducing novel diagnostic and pharmaceutical products to China. Liana holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry.

Liana is also the Vice President-Communications of the Chinese association for Science and Technology, USA (CAST-USA). Her responsibilities include helping US biopharma and medtech companies explore business opportunities in China, organizing networking events, and promoting professional development opportunities for CAST members.

Vice President of Finance
Lining Zhu
Vice President of Communications

Lining Zhu is currently a postdoctoral fellow in City of Hope, developing antibody-based biosensors for detecting botulinum toxin. She graduated from Clemson University with her PhD focusing on cancer immunotherapy and received additional training at University of Southern California in tumorigenesis. As a graduate teaching assistant, she has taught general biology lab course to over 200 undergraduate students. This experience planted the seed of her interest in motivating young students to pursue careers in science. She has mentored more than 35 students in the classroom and laboratory through her active involvement at City of Hope. Lining joined AWIS with the commitment to help advance career development for women in STEM fields. In her spare time, she is an active member of Toastmaster International and enjoys outdoor activities and playing the piano.

Vice President of Communications

Past Presidents

Christina Vorvis
Interim President

Christina Vorvis is a Licensing Associate in Business Development at Amgen. Prior to joining Amgen, Christina earned her PhD at UCLA in Oncology, where she utilized transcriptomic and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies to identify novel mechanisms in pancreatic cancer. During her career at UCLA, Christina led new initiatives at the UCLA Business of Science Center (BSC), including Advancing Women in Science (AWiSE) and the Inventathon, a 24-hour healthcare hackathon. In addition to her contributions at the BSC, Christina established a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program at UCLA tailored for high school students coming from low-income communities with the objective to inspire students to pursue higher education in STEM-related fields. Before graduating from UCLA, Christina interned as a Technology Transfer Fellow at UCLA’s Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research, where she focused on marketing life science innovations. With a strong appreciation for mentorship and career development opportunities, Christina’s background and accomplishments are in-line with the vision and mission of AWIS.

Interim President
Erin Denny
Past-President

Erin is currently a Licensing Manager at Amgen in the Business Development department. She graduated with her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the City of Hope. Her thesis work focused on the mechanism of drug resistance in breast cancer. She received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Biotechnology from USC. While at USC, she co-founded the Healthcare in Business Club to bring the life sciences and business students together to provide professional, academic and social activities for those interested in pursuing opportunities in the healthcare and life science industries. She became involved with AWIS when she first began graduate school and was immediately impressed by the women that planned and hosted the event. Erin joined the planning committee shortly after attending her first event and became co-chair of the networking and social committee the following spring. She then served as the VP of Chapter Operations, focused on expanding the AWIS network through Los Angeles and Ventura County and is now Co-President of the chapter.

Past-President
Allison Sargoy
Past-President

Allison is a Licensing Manager in Business Development at Amgen. Allison received her PhD in Neurobiology at UCLA where she studied voltage-gated calcium channels in retinal ganglion cells and their unmyelinated axons. During her graduate studies, Allison interned as a Technology Transfer Fellow at UCLA's Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research. Allison joined the AWIS LA/VC community in 2010 as the founder of the Outreach program to raise awareness for the disproportionate representation of women in science and to educate young students of the many opportunities a career in STEM may provide. Allison served as the co-President of the LA/VC Chapter from June 2014 - December 2016 and continues to serve as the Outreach Chair.

Past-President
April Shiflett
Past-President

April is a scientist working in Drug Product Process Engineering at Amgen. She completed four years as a post-doctoral researcher at UCLA in the department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, where her research focused on the human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Her previous scientific work has also focused on human parasitic diseases. She received her BS degree in genetics from the University of Georgia in 1999, and her PhD in pathobiology from Brown University in 2007. She first became involved in AWIS in 2008, and prior to becoming president served two years as vice-president of communications. Involvement in AWIS has strengthened her networking skills, her leadership skills, and her interest in career development.

Past-President
Tracy Blois
Past-President

Tracy currently works as a Licensing Manager in the External R&D Group at Amgen. Previously, she held the position of Principal Scientist of Quality Control Methods Validation and Development at Grifols, Inc. Tracy earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UCLA in spring 2010 and her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of San Diego where she first benefited from a strong female mentor. She has always been passionate about outreach, but her personal experiences have developed a deep interest to specifically inspire and encourage other young women to pursue careers in science. She wishes that all women in science take the opportunity to experience the benefits of AWIS membership and involvement as much as she has. As a result, Tracy remains committed to furthering the strong foundation on which AWIS Los Angeles/Ventura County was built to ensure that the chapter remains a valuable resource to scientists in the local area.

Past-President