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 ( After the PhD, I was a postdoctoral fellow for two years at the Center for Developmental Science ( 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

  • Kwak, Y., Lu, T., & Christ, S. L. (in press). Organized and unstructured activity participation among adolescents involved with Child Protective Services in the United States. Child and Youth Care Forum.

  • Kwak, Y., Mihalec-Adkins, B., Mishra, A. A., & Christ, S. L. (in press). Differential impacts of participation in organized activities and maltreatment types on adolescent academic and socioemotional development. Child Abuse & Neglect.

  • Christ, S. L., Kwak, Y., & Lu, T. (2017). The joint impact of parental psychological neglect and peer isolation on adolescents’ depression. Child Abuse & Neglect, 69, 161-162.

  • Christ, S. L., Kwak, Y. Y., & Lu, T. (2017). Adolescents’ experience of parental psychological caregiving and neglect: Construct development. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(3), 326-336.

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Christ, S., Abel, E., & Poehlmann-Tynan, J. (in press). Circadian sleep patterns in toddlers born preterm: Longitudinal associations with developmental and health concerns. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(5), 358-369.

  • Choi, J. Y., Elicker, J., Dobbs-Oates, J., & Christ, S. L. (2016). Predicting growth trajectories in early academic learning: Evidence from growth curve modeling with Head Start children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 244-258.

  • MacDermid Wadsworth, S. M., Cardin, J. F., Christ, S. L., Willerton, E., O'Grady, A. F., Topp, D., Lester, P., & Mustillo, S. (2016). Accumulation of risk and promotive factors among young children in U.S. military families. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57(1-2), 190-202.

  • Alexander, S. C., Christ, S. L., Fortenberry, J. D., Pollak, K. I., Østbye, T., Bravender, T., & Shields, C. G. (2015). Identifying types of sex conversations in adolescent health maintenance visits. Sex Health. doi:10.1071/SH15080.

  • Fernandez, C. A., Christ, S. L., LeBlanc, W. G., Arheart, K. L., Dietz, N., McCollister, K. E., . . . Lee, D. J. (2015). Effect of childhood victimization on occupational prestige and income trajectories. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0115519. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115519

  • Friedman, E. M., Christ, S. L., & Mroczek, D. K. (2015). 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, 27(5), 843-63. doi:10.1177/0898264315569453

  • Marini, C. M., MacDermid Wadsworth, S. M., Christ, S. L., & Franks, M. M. (2015). Emotion expression, avoidance and psychological health during reintegration: A dyadic analysis of actor and partner associations within a sample of military couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(8), 1-22. doi:10.1177/0265407515621180

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 2017-2019:  Principal Investigator, The Spencer Foundation, The impacts of emotional neglect during adolescence on academic functioning and long-term educational attainment: How do schools facilitate protection?

  • 2016-2021:  Co-Investigator, R01 DC014708-01, Leonard (PI), National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, Retrieval-Based Word Learning in Specific Language Impairment.

  • 2014-2015:  Co-Investigator, MacDermid Wadsworth (PI), NIFA, Using Practical Rigor to Evaluate U.S. Military Family Support Programs: Development and Implementation Plans.

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

  • 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.

  • 2013-2018:  Co-Investigator, R01 AG041750, Friedman (PI), National Institute on Aging, Living Well with Later Life Multimorbidity: A Biopsychosocial Approach.

  • 2013-2018:  Co-Investigator, 2 R01 DC000559-23, Smith (PI), National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, Physiological Correlates of Stuttering.

Sharon Christ
Associate Professor

Human Development & Family Studies / Department of Statistics

Faculty Associate:
   Advanced Methods at Purdue,
   Center for Families
   Center on Aging and the Life

(PhD, University of North Carolina)

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