Guadalupe X. Ayala, Ph.D.
Guadalupe X. Ayala, Ph.D

2019 Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award

Guadalupe X. Ayala, Ph.D.

San Diego State University
Professor of Public Health, Division of Health Promotion and Director, Institute for Behavioral and Community Health

There is no greater reward than working alongside colleagues, staff, students and community partners to promote the health and well-being of a community and tackle some of the greatest health challenges of our lifetime.

Major Accomplishments:

  • Led implementation of the $6 million California Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Co-led the securing of $19 million in grant funding for health disparities research—the second-largest grant in San Diego State’s history
  • Developed evidence-based health interventions that can be translated into real-world use
  • Co-author of “Introduction to Health Promotion & Behavioral Science in Public Health” and author of 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters

Illness may be the great equalizer (everyone gets sick, after all), but some groups of people have a greater burden of illness, disease and mortality than others. Solving these inequities is the life’s work of Guadalupe X. “Suchi” Ayala, Ph.D.

In the 14 years Dr. Ayala has spent at San Diego State University, and in her earlier research, her work has focused on finding real-world ways to reduce health disparities and improve the well-being of California communities. To that end, Ayala has served as principal investigator on more than 24 grants, cooperative agreements and endowments, totaling $40 million from prestigious sources that include the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Among other research accomplishments, Ayala has created evidence-based interventions for both individuals and communities that reduce Latino health disparities in obesity, diabetes and asthma by improving diet, physical activity, and management of chronic conditions. Her leadership of the campus’s nonprofit Institute for Behavioral and Community Health focuses on identifying and improving health disparities among the Latino, lower-income and LGBTQ communities.

An inspiration to her colleagues, Ayala mentors faculty in their research and engages students in her scholarship, laying the groundwork for a new generation of public health researchers and practitioners. Since her arrival to SDSU, she has advised more than 60 students in the master’s in public health program.

This consummate collaborator was honored in 2018 with the Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation award at San Diego State—only the second recipient of the award, and adding to multiple accolades, including the 2015 Outstanding Faculty Member (Monty) award for her college.

Professor Ayala received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at San Diego State University-University of California San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology; her master’s degree in public health at San Diego State; a master’s in experimental psychology at California State University San Marcos; and a bachelor’s at the University of San Diego.