Marilyn Magaram Center


Administrative Staff

Annette Besnilian, EdD, MPH, RDN, CLE, FAND
Executive Director

Karmen Ovsepyan, MS, RDN
Associate Director

Lisa Kim
Administrative Assistant

Michelle Chen
Finance Coordinator

April Diederich, RD, CSR
MMC Internship Coordinator

Julie Miller
Food Science Coordinator

Trisha Patel
Project Coordinator

Virdiana Ortiz
Project Coordinator (Cal Fresh Healh Living Program)

Jenica Smith
MMC Project coordinator

Registered Dietitian Consultants

Simona Hradil, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian Consultant/Sports Dietitian


Diem Nguyen, RD
Registered Dietitian Consultant


Elizabeth Kaoh, RD
Registered Dietitian Consultant


Jocceline Hernandez, RD
Registered Dietitian Consultant


Nahal Danesh, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian Consultant

Student Leaders

Briana Caban
Student Leader

Fernando Gonzalez
Student Leader

Joseph Choe
Student Leader

Frida Endinjok
Graduate Research Assistant

Jada Cantrell
Student Leader

Kelly Rodriguez
Student Research Assistant (CalFresh Healthy Living)

Jesus Gonzalez
Student Leader



Founding Director & Chair

Tom Chen Founding Director

Dr. Tom Chen

Founding Director

"It is my privilege to say a few words about Marilyn's hero, Dr. Tom Chen, on his retirement from serving as the first Director of the Marilyn Magaram Center. According to Webster's dictionary, a hero is "a man admired for his achievements and qualities." Tom brought the Marilyn Magaram Center from my vague concept to reality when the Center opened in 1991. Under Tom's leadership important programs were developed that benefited CSUN students and the community. The Center is truly a showplace and a tribute to Tom's vision and his ability to do things well. My family and I take this opportunity to say, Tom, we love you and thank you for having made the Center something Marilyn would have been proud of." - Phil Magaram


Dr. Christine H. Smith

Family and friends of Dr. Christine H. Smith, Professor Emerita, California State University, Northridge, mourn her passing on December 20, 2013 as the result of a tragic accident that had occurred several days prior.

Dr. Smith was born to Herbert W. and Nellie M. Hamilton, the third of three children, on November 5, 1938, in Midwest, Wyoming.  After a childhood rich in music and love of animals, Christine made her way to Southern California where she enrolled in San Fernando Valley State College (SFVSC, now California State University, Northridge) majoring in Home Economics.  Her job sewing costumes in the Drama Department at SFVSC changed her life forever as that is where Christine met the love of her life, Owen Smith, whom she married in 1967.

Chris’s educational career includes a BS degree in Home Economics from SFVSC, an MS degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles   and a PhD in Pharmacology and Nutrition from University of Southern California, School of Medicine. She became a Registered Dietitian in 1978 and later (1995) a Certified Nutrition Specialist.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Smith was presented with numerous awards but because of her devotion to students, the Distinguished Professor Award was her most cherished.  Chris was not only the co-advisor of Family & Consumer Science’s (FCS) Student Dietetic and Food Science Association for 21 years, but also as the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), she guided students through the coursework that academically prepared them to become Registered Dietitians.  Even after her 2001 retirement, she remained an active member of FCS’s DPD/DI (Dietetic Internship) Advisory Board.
Active, as well, in the area of Food Technology,  Dr. Smith was a well-received speaker at an IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) Annual Meeting and served its Annual Meeting Session Committee several times. Chairing the Southern California IFT Section’s Scholarship Committee (more than once) was also professionally fulfilling.  Such dedication was honored in 2005 when she became recipient of the SCIFTS Distinguished Achievement Award.

Dr. Smith’s research focus led her to becoming co-editor of a popular reference work: Food-Medication Interactions first published in 1978. She remained an active contributor to its biennial revisions for nearly 30 years.

Retirement years were busy for Christine: volunteering as a dedicated tutor in the Los Angeles Public Library Adult Literacy Program; joining several “Chicken Ladies,” who faithfully cared for the chickens in a project at a nearby elementary school; travelling with her husband to many magnificent places: India, China, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Fiji, Antarctica, all over Europe, and more.  But those quiet moments that she and her husband had at home were always shared with a beloved member of the feline family.  Hers was a wonderful and full life.

Christine is survived by her oldest brother and sister-in-law, Robert B. and Joyce K. Hamilton, nieces, nephews, and cousins.  On February 9, 2014 at 2:30 p.m., a Celebration of Christine’s Life will take place on the campus of California State University, Northridge, Sequoia Hall, Nobbs Auditorium (room 104).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made payable to CSUN Foundation (memo: Christine and Owen Smith Memorial Fund); mail to Marilyn Magaram Center; CSU, Northridge; Northridge, CA 91330-8308.  This fund will be used to support activities/projects involving students.