by Jenee Odani
Dr. Lei Sachiko Yamasaki, DVM, MS, passed away unexpectedly on May 8.
Lei was born and raised in Honolulu, graduated from Roosevelt High School, and earned a BA in Zoology (with a Marine Options Program Certificate) at UHM. She completed an MS in Animal Sciences from the Dept. of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, and she received her DVM from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif.
During her years as a student, she participated in many programs that led to cherished friendships and future collaborations, including Hanauma Bay, Oceanic Institute, HDOA Aquaculture Development Program, AquaVet I/II, Los Angeles Zoo, U. of Arizona Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory, USGS Honolulu Field Station, USDA APHIS/Veterinary Services, and the U. of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory.
Following graduation, she returned to Hawaiʻi to work at Moana Technologies and in 2012 joined the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture as the Aquaculture Veterinary Medical Officer. At HDOA, she supervised the Hawaiʻi Shrimp Health Certification Program and provided dedicated diagnostic and regulatory services to support the aquaculture industry that she loved. She worked on projects relating to the presence of Nile tilapia and Francisella noatunensis subsp. orientalis in Hawaiʻi, and molecular and histologic diagnostics for fish/shrimp/oyster pathogens. She supported education and aquaculture in the community as a Hawaiʻi State Science & Engineering Fair judge, Technical Committee member for CTAHR’s Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture, Advisory Subcommittee member on invertebrate and aquatic biota for the State of Hawaiʻi, and many other events – all with endless energy and a smile that lit up every room.
Lei was a lifelong scholar and never tired of pursuing new projects or learning new things. Yet, she still managed to carve time out to enjoy the natural beauty of the world through her hobbies of surfing, hiking, fishing, traveling, conservation, and animal rescue. She was a dedicated and respected veterinarian whose love of animals was evident in the menagerie of animals that she cared for over the years: her beloved Simon, Emma, Mao, Copper, Atsila, and many others.
Lei will be forever remembered and missed by her family (parents Michael and Joann, sister Ann), friends, and colleagues from around the world.