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Sharon Christ, PhD

Research Interests

Structural equation modeling, longitudinal modeling, mixed effects (multilevel) modeling, complex sample data estimation, adolescent development, child maltreatment, healthy aging, work and health


I received my PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill in 2008. My primary area of study was quantitative methods and statistics. Prior to the PhD, I earned an MS from the department of Statistics at UNC. As part of my graduate career, I also worked full time for four years as a Research Statistician at the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science (http://www.irss.unc.edu). After the PhD, I was a postdoctoral fellow for two years at the Center for Developmental Science (http://www.cds.unc.edu/) at UNC where I received training in the theories and methods of human development.

My research includes applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences, especially statistical models applicable to human health and development processes. My primary tools are structural equation modeling (SEM) with latent variables, multilevel (mixed effects) models, longitudinal modeling, and analysis of complex sample data using a design based (marginal, population average) modeling approach. I teach graduate level statistics courses in all of these areas. Measurement of social constructs, missing data, and selection problems are also foci of my work. My work involves analysis of existing large nationally representative data sets as well as data collected using observation and experimental designs. My own areas of substantive interest are in healthy aging and child maltreatment exposure during adolescence.

Selected Publications

  • Fernandez, C. A., Christ, S. L., LeBlanc, W. G., Arheart, K. L., Dietz, N., McCollister, K. E., . . . Lee, D. J. (in press). Effect of childhood victimization on occupational prestige and income trajectories. PLOS ONE.
  • Friedman, E. M., Christ, S. L., & Mroczek, D. K. (in press). Inflammation partially mediates the association of multimorbidity and functional limitations in a national sample of middle-aged and older adults: The MIDUS study. Journal of Aging and Health. doi: 10.1177/0898264315569453
  • Zheng, D. D., Bokman, C. L., Lam, B. L., Christ, S. L., Swenor, B. K., West, S. K., . . . Lee, D. J. (2015). Longitudinal relationships between visual acuity and severe depressive symptoms in older adults: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation Study. Aging and Mental Health. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2015.1008985
  • Christ, S. L., Lee, D. J., Lam, B. L., & Zheng, D. D. (2014). Structural equation modeling: a framework for ocular and other medical sciences research. Ophthalmic Epidemiology, 21(1), 1-13. doi: 10.3109/09286586.2013.867508
  • Christ, S. L., Zheng, D. D., Swenor, B. K., Lam, B. L., West, S. K., Tannenbaum, S. L., . . . Lee*, D. J. (2014). Longitudinal relationships among visual acuity, daily functional status, and mortality: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation Study. JAMA Opthalmology, 132(12), 1400-1406. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.2847
  • French, D. C., Lu, T., Christ, S. L., & Purwono, U. (2014). Trajectories of Indonesian adolescents' religiosity, problem behavior, and friends' religiosity: Covariation and sequences. Child Development, 85(4), 1634-1646.
  • Zheng, D. D., Christ, S. L., Lam, B. L., Tannenbaum, S. L., Bokman, C. L., Arheart, K. L., . . . Lee, D. J. (2014). Visual acuity and increased mortality: The role of allostatic load and functional status. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 55(8), 5144-5150. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14202
  • Lam, B. L., Christ, S. L., Zheng, D. D., West, S. K., Munoz, B. E., Swenor, B. K., & Lee*, D. J. (2013). Longitudinal relationships among visual acuity and tasks of everyday life: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation study. Investigative Ophthalmology Visual Science, 54(1), 193-200. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10542
  • Waller, M. W., Iritani, B. J., Christ, S. L., Tucker Halpern, C., Moracco, K. E., & Flewelling, R. L. (2013). Perpetration of intimate partner violence by young adult males: The association with alcohol outlet density and drinking behavior. Journal of Health and Place, 21, 10-19. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.01.002
  • Wang, F., Christ, S. L., Mills-Koonces, R., Garret-Peters, P., & Cox, M. (2013). Association between maternal sensitivity and externalizing behavior from preschool to preadolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 34, 89-100.
  • Christ, S. L., Fleming, L. E., Lee, D. J., Muntaner, C., Muennig, P. A., & Caban-Martinez, A. J. (2012). The effects of a psychosocial dimension of socioeconomic position on survival: Occupational prestige and mortality among US working adults. Sociology of Health and Illness, 34(7), 1103-1117. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01456.x
  • Waller, M. W., Iritani, B. J., Christ, S. L., Clark, H. K., Moracco, K. E., Halpern, C. T., & Flewelling, R. L. (2012). Relationships among alcohol outlet density, alcohol use, and intimate partner violence victimization among young women in the United States. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(10), 2062-2086. doi: 10.1177/0886260511431435
  • Casanueva, C., Cross, T. P., Ringeisen, H., & Christ, S. L. (2011). Prevalance, trajectories, and risk factors for depression recurrence among caregivers of young children involved in child maltreatment investigations. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 19(2), 98-116.
  • Davila, E. P., Christ, S. L., Caban-Martinez, A. J., Lee, D. J., Arheart, K. L., LeBlanc, W. G., . . . Fleming*, L. E. (2010). Young adults, mortality, and employment. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(5), 501-504. doi: 10.1097/JOM.
  • Biemer, P. P., Christ, S. L., & Wiesen, C. A. (2009). A general approach for estimating scale score reliability for panel survey data. Psychological Methods, 14(4), 400-412. doi: 10.1037/a0016618
  • Chapman, M. V., & Christ, S. L. (2008). Attitudes toward out-of-home care over 18 months: Changing perceptions of youths in foster care. Social Work Research, 32, 135-145.
  • Christ, S. L., Lee, D. J., Lam, B. L., Zheng, D. D., & Arheart, K. L. (2008). Assessment of the effect of visual impairment on mortality through multiple health pathways: Structural equation modeling. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 49(8), 3318-3323. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-1676
  • Christ, S. L., Lee, D. J., Fleming, L. E., LeBlanc, W. G., Arheart, K. L., Chung-Bridges, K., . . . McCollister, K. E. (2007). Employment and occupation effects on depressive symptoms in older Americans: Does working past age 65 protect against depression? Journal of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences,62(6), S399-403.
  • McCrae, J. S., Chapman, M. V., & Christ, S. L. (2006). Profile of children investigated for sexual abuse: Association with psychopathology symptoms and services. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(4), 468-481. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.76.4.468


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-2010, Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina
  • PhD, 2008, Sociology, University of North Carolina
  • MS, 2004, Statistics, University of North Carolina
  • MA, 2002, Sociology, University of North Carolina
  • BA, 1994, magna cum laude , Sociology, University of Minnesota

Courses Recently Taught

  • HDFS 613: Statistical Approaches for Development and Family Researchers
  • HDFS 627: Multilevel Modeling in Developmental and Family Research
  • HDFS 628: Structural Equation Modeling
  • STAT 522: Sampling and Survey Techniques

Recent External Grants

2015 – 2017
Co-Investigator, Matthias & Shields (PIs)
Identifying Communicative Factors Affecting Opioid Management for Chronic Pain
Total: $275,000

2014 – 2015
Co-Investigator, MacDermid Wadsworth (PI)
Using Practical Rigor to Evaluate U.S. Military Family Support Programs: Development and Implementation Plans
Total: $1,363,636

2014 - 2016
Co-Investigator, Schwichtenberg (PI)
National Institute of Mental Health
Self-Regulation and Sleep in Children at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Total: $930,000

2014 - 2019
Co-Investigator, #12120283, Ward (PI)
National Science Foundation
MCTP: Sophomore Transitions: Bridges into a Statistics Major and Big Data Research Experience Via Learning Communities
Total: $1,990,940

2013 - 2018
Co-Investigator, R01 AG041750, Friedman (PI)
National Institute on Aging
Living Well with Later Life Multimorbidity: A Biopsychosocial Approach
Total: $1,200,000

2013 - 2018
Co-Investigator, 2 R01 DC000559-23, Smith (PI)
National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders
Physiological Correlates of Stuttering
Total: $3,758,568

2011 - 2016
Co-Investigator, R01 CA155376-01, Shields & Epstein (PIs)
National Cancer Institute
Social and Behavioral Influences on Clinical Communication and Pain Management
Total: $2,700,000

2012 - 2014
Principle Investigator, Loan Repayment Program Renewal
National Institutes of Health, Pediatric Research LRP
Evaluating Maltreatment Effects on Adolescent Well-Being Using Advanced Modeling