Faculty Spotlight: Lisa Asmus
In honor of World AIDS Day, the 33rd Annual Dr. A. Brad Traux Award Ceremony presented 18 awards, including two to SDSU’s own adjunct assistant professor Lisa Asmus. Named for one of the first physicians in San Diego County to treat AIDS patients in the 1980s, the Dr. A. Brad Traux Awards became a way to recognize individuals advancing the goal of ending the HIV epidemic and the social injustices that have allowed it to persist. Not only was Ms. Asmus presented with one of the 2022 HIV Community Service Awards, she was also recognized for the 2022 Outstanding Service Award for HIV Education, Prevention and Counseling, and Testing.
Beginning her career in economics, Ms. Asmus was most interested in development economics and population, which led her to Africa after graduation. Spending most of her time interning at the Family Planning Association of Uganda in women’s health, Ms. Asmus also did a few HIV prevention presentations. “At that time it was hard not to notice the HIV epidemic and problems that it caused,” she said. “That, in turn, led me to a job as a health educator at North County Health Services when I returned to the US, where I provided HIV test counseling, among other things.” As she settled into life in San Diego, Ms. Asmus knew she wanted to return to school but was unsure of what to study until the dentist at North County Health Services (now TrueCare) gave her his copy of what was at the time a new and somewhat controversial book on emerging infectious diseases – The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett. Ms. Asmus then decided to pursue public health and graduated from SDSU with her Master of Public Health (MPH) in epidemiology.
Ms. Asmus joined the Institute for Public Health (IPH) just five short years after its creation and has been there ever since. “I am not sure that I have shaped the [Institute’s] goals as it is more that our goals have always aligned,” Ms. Asmus reflected. “I have always liked the goal of working towards equality, addressing the social determinants of health, and serving diverse populations… The field of program evaluation is just something I fell into, but it fits with what I like doing best - data, numbers, statistics, and helping agencies I work with manage their data and reports.” Ms. Asmus’ work as an evaluation specialist/supervisor at IPH involves collaborating with a wide variety of groups including Family Health Centers of San Diego, the HIV, STD and Hepatitis Branch of the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, San Ysidro Health, Vista Community Clinic, the San Diego LGBT Community Center, SAY San Diego, the Multicultural Health Foundation; she is now beginning a new collaboration with TrueCare, where she was first given the copy of The Coming Plague that led her into public health. “My typical day is me getting up, going to my computer and attending meetings with staff from these organizations…. Then I spend my time creating surveys, designing evaluation plans, providing technical assistance, analyzing data, creating databases, and writing reports. Sometimes I work on the evaluation sections of grants, and enter data, or conduct interviews.” Evaluating anywhere from eight to ten projects simultaneously on topics ranging from HIV treatment and care to prevention of cardiovascular disease through reduction in blood pressure, Ms. Asmus still carves time out of her busy schedule to train SDSU students so they will be