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Meet the team engaging the educators of today and students who will become the scientists of tomorrow.

Our Team

Rita Blaik

Director of Education

Rita Blaik is the Education Director for the CNSI at UCLA. Her life’s goal is to find new and innovative ways of communicating science to people through workshops, interactive discussions, art, and other media. In her role at the CNSI, she oversees the education activities at the institute including K-12 teacher training workshops, a nanoscience and entrepreneurship competition, high school summer programs, community outreach, and graduate student and postdoctoral scholar professional development. She received her Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from UCLA working on nanotechnologies for enzymatic biofuel cells. In addition to her work as a scientist, she is also an artist and a faculty member at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

Elaine Morita

Education Program Coordinator

Elaine Morita is the Education Program Coordinator responsible for coordinating the teacher workshops, summer programs and community outreach. She enjoys working with educators, graduate students and undergraduates to excite younger students to pursue studies in STEM fields. Prior to joining CNSI, Elaine was a researcher at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope. She has BS degrees in chemistry and biology, a MS in Biology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from UCLA Medical School.

Kevin Cannon

Education Postdoc

Kevin Cannon received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 2019 for work on the design of symmetric protein nanostructures for imaging, energy, and biomedical applications. He currently has a joint appointment as a postdoctoral scholar with the CNSI Education team and the Institute for Genomics and Proteomics at UCLA, where he carries out research related to structural biology and cryo-electron microscopy in the Yeates Lab. Kevin is from Austin, Texas and enjoys rock climbing and live music.


Sarah H. Tolbert

Faculty Director

Sarah H. Tolbert is a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at UCLA.  Her research focuses on controlling nanometer-scale architecture in solution-processed nanomaterials to generate unique optical, electronic, magnetic, structural, and electrochemical properties.  She has published over 200 scholarly research article and has 20 patents focusing on electrochemical energy storage (including both pseudocapacitors and batteries), organic electronics, nanomagnetics, nanoscale control of thermal conductivity, and new ultra-hard materials.  She also serves as the faculty director for the CNSI Education program aimed at bringing nano-concepts to schools, students, and the general public throughout the greater LA area.  Professor Tolbert is the recipient of a number of awards; recent awards include Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the UCLA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, an NSF Special Creativity Award, and the American Chemical Society R.A. Glen Award. She directs the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables (SCALAR).