Marlena Chavez received a B.S. degree in Biology (2007) from the University of New Mexico. She earned her M.S. degree as a Pathologists' Assistant (2014) from Rosalind Franklin University. She is the Senior Pathologists' Assistant and has been in her current position for 8 years.

Personal Statement

I began working for UNM as a research tech in 2008 and discovered the Pathologists' Assistant profession. I immediately fell in love with the highly dynamic and hands on work environment of the gross room that involves interaction with clinicians, laboratory personnel, and trainees. After obtaining my degree as a Pathologists' Assistant in 2014, I was thrilled to be able to come back to UNM. Under the direction of our Anatomic Pathologists, I manage the Surgical Pathology Gross Room.

Areas of Specialty

My clinical service and expertise consists of grossing, which is the macroscopic examination, dissection, and dictation of surgical specimens resulting in the surgical pathology report and sections selected for microscopic examination. I specialize in frozen sections and other operating room consultations as well as specimen gross photography. My teaching is centered on resident education through lectures and grossing. I also mentor our other Pathologists' Assistants.

Achievements & Awards

iTeach Award 2021
Promotion from Lecturer III to Senior Lecturer III 2020




  • English

Courses Taught

First Year Conference-Grossing 101:
Introduction to Grossing
Frozen Sections
Uterus, Breast, and Ovary
Urinary Tract and Male Genital System
Head and Neck
Hepatobiliary and Pancreas
Bone, Soft Tissue, and Lung

Research and Scholarship

My research consists of collaborating with our tissue bank, the Human Tissue Repository. I submit normal and tumor tissue to be banked, deidentified, and made available for future research as formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue and frozen tissue.