55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Alison Rusch

Alison is an Animal Health Biologist for the Steinhart Aquarium.

Q & A

Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise.   I am a Senior Animal Health Biologist.  This means that I work directly with the veterinarian and the husbandry staff, assisting with exams, surgery, medical treatments, as well as conducting diagnostics on all of the animals at the Academy.

What got you interested in becoming a Animal Health Biologist?  The challenge and satisfaction of caring for all kinds of animals in a unique environment with the opportunity to learn and teach.  We work with so many distinct species that we are often challenged in new and different ways to create appropriate methods for accurate diagnostics and safe effective treatments. We then share this information with our colleagues in the field to broaden the base of knowledge in the relatively unexplored  field of fish and exotic medicine.

What do you like most and least about your job?  It is immensely satisfying to have the opportunity to work with such a varied group of animals, in an amazing place, and with an outstanding team of people.   It is also very important to work in an environment where you can be excited by the challenges you face as it presents another opportunity to learn!

What college did you go to and what degree did you receive? BS in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology from Denver State University in CO.

What influenced your job choice and when?  Inherent love of science, animals, and learning.   

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? I have had everything from dogs, cats, rabbits, and hamsters to fish, iguanas, and birds.  I currently have a ridiculously fabulous dog named Rosie Rocket.

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field.  Take advantage of every learning opportunity – volunteer, intern, or otherwise.   Build skills and utilize knowledge through experience.

More about Alison


Alison’s Suggested Reading:

“Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians” by Dennis M. McCurnin Revised edition (WB Saunders).

“Fish Disease Diagnosis and Treatment” by Edward J. Noga, 1996 (Mosby).

“Manual of Exotic Pet Practice,” by Mark A. Mitchell & Thomas N. Tully, JR., 2009 (Saunders).