April 03, 2013

Alumnus Rob Lyerla will present Russell lecture

by Christi Mathis

Robert Lyerla

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- Rob Lyerla, a two-degree SIU Carbondale graduate and health care professional, will present the annual Robert D. Russell Scholar Address on Monday, April 8.

The symposium begins at 6 p.m. in the Student Health Center Auditorium.  Lyerla will present his address at 6:30 p.m.  The presentation is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Lyerla is senior adviser in the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality Strategic Information at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA).  Lyerla, who is also a faculty member at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., has served in a number of positions in the health care field internationally.

Lyerla earned a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1984 and a doctorate in educational measurements and statistics in 1994 from the University’s then-College of Education.  In 2010, he spoke at commencement ceremonies for the College of Education and Human Services and received the Alumni Achievement Award.

The symposium wraps up National Public Health Week, and honors the late Robert D. Russell, professor emeritus of health education.  Russell earned numerous awards for his work as an educator and research for more than 48 years in the health field.

Lyerla’s experience also includes work as the senior advisor for strategic information in the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, supporting the work of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. 

His background also includes time with the National Institutes of Health as acting director of the Division of International Relations, and five years in the epidemiology and analysis division with the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS in Geneva, Switzerland. Lyerla was responsible for estimating the HIV infections in most at-risk populations, along with focusing on HIV epidemics in Southeast Asia, China, Russia, and other countries in the former Soviet Union.

Lyerla’s background also includes eight years as an epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. He received the Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1998, and is a captain in the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

The day will also feature presentations and poster sessions that highlight current research, best practices and health information.  Faculty and student presentations in the Student Center river rooms begin at 9 a.m.  Morning and afternoon student poster sessions organized by students from the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Eta Sigma Gamma, the campus health education honorary society, will be in the Old Main Lounge.

Lyerla earned undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry from Bradley University.

Symposium sponsors include the College of Education and Human Services’ Department of Health Education and Recreation, Southern Illinois Healthcare, Alpha Alpha Chapter of Eta Sigma Gamma and Student Health Services.

For more information, call 618/453-2777 or email herec@siu.edu.