Rachel Vasseur

Research Associate

Rachel serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Research Associate in Disease Investigations. She is part of a team that conducts post-mortem necropsy examinations on animals from the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, native wildlife, and other conservation projects off site, such as the Hawaiian Alala. During necropsy, she collects tissues for other SDZWA researchers, including valuable samples for our Frozen Zoo®. Another important part of her job is in helping maintain our museum-accredited Pathology Archive of microscopic slides, tissue blocks, frozen tissues, formalin-fixed tissues, and gross photos, each containing several thousands of records. She is responsible for trimming in tissues for histologic examination and sending out samples for diagnostics. Since becoming a permanent part of the Disease Investigations team, Rachel has found that her work is exciting as she is constantly learning new things and is proud to contribute to the science at work here. 

After being an wildlife care specialist at a small zoo in Clinton, Tennessee, Rachel came to San Diego in 2018 with hopes of finding a home at San Diego Zoo, to contribute to wildlife conservation efforts. After working in SDWA’s Development department as an on-site fund-raiser, a field season with Recovery Ecology’s Terns and Plovers, and short time in Biodiversity Banking, she was finally able to call Disease Investigations home. 

Rachel earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Middle Tennessee State University with a minor in Global Studies. This allowed her to form a perspective on conservation that conveys the interconnectedness between animals, people, and the environment. In her free time, she enjoys finding creative outlets in photography and DIY projects, taking care of plants and her cuddly cat Rima, and experiencing new people, places, and things.