Sharon Christ, PhD

Research Interests

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


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. Most of my work involves analysis of existing large nationally representative data sets but also data collected using observation and experimental designs. As a methodologist, I collaborate widely on studies where I employ complex modeling and estimation techniques to address important questions about human health and development.

I and my graduate students are currently working on a project to evaluate the impacts of child maltreatment experiences in adolescence on well-being outcomes, including academic achievement, aggressive behaviors, and mental health. We are using large cohort studies of children in contact with Child Protective Services in the U.S. as well as a cohort of the general population of adolescents.

Selected Publications

  • Haebig, E., Leonard, L., Deevy, P., Karpicke, J., Christ, S., Usler, E., Kueser, J., Souto, S., Krok, W., & Weber, C. (2019). Retrieval-based word learning in young typically developing children and children with Development Language Disorder II: A comparison of retrieval schedules. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62(4), 944-964.

  • Leonard, L., Karpicke, J., Weber, C., Deevy, P., Christ, S., Haebig, E., Souto, S., Kueser, J., & Krok, W. (2019). Retrieval-based word learning in young typically developing children and children with Development Language Disorder I: A comparison of retrieval schedules. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62(4), 932-943.

  • Mishra, A. A., Friedman, E., Christ, S. L., & Denning, M. (2019). The association of psychological well-being with disablement processes in a national sample. Applied Psychology: Health and Wellbeing, 11(2), 262-285.

  • Mishra, A. A., Friedman, E., Mihalec-Adkins, B. P., Evich, C.D., Christ, S. L., & Marceau, K. (2019). Childhood maltreatment exposure and physical functional limitations in late adulthood: Examining subjective sleep quality in midlife as a mediator. Psychology & Health.

  • Kwak, Y., Mihalec-Adkins, B., Mishra, A. A., & Christ, S. L. (2018). Differential impacts of participants in organized activities and maltreatment types on adolescent academic and socioeconomic development. Child Abuse & Neglect, 78, 107-117.

  • Mishra, A. A., Christ, S. L., Schwab-Reese, L. M., & Nair, N. (2018). Post-traumatic stress symptom development as a function of changing witnessing in-home violence and changing peer relationship quality: Evaluating protective effects of peer relationship quality. Child Abuse & Neglect, 81, 332-342.

  • Zheng, D., Swenor, B. K., Christ, S. L., West, S. K., Lam, B. L., & Lee, D. J. (2018). Longitudinal relationships between visual impairment and cognitive functioning in Salisbury Eye Evaluation Study. JAMA Ophthalmology, 136(9), 989-995.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kwak, Y., Lu, T., & Christ, S. L. (2017). Organized and unstructured activity participation among adolescents involved with child protective services in the United States. Child & Youth Care Forum, 46(4), 495–517.

  • 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.

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Christ, S., Abel, E., & Poehlmann-Tynan, J. (2016). Circadian sleep patterns in toddlers born preterm: Longitudinal associations with developmental and health concerns. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(5), 358-369.

  • 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


  • 2019: Honorable Mention for the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN) Disruption Paper Competition

  • 2015: College of Science Team Award for Statistics Living Learning Community

  • 2014: Center for Aging and the Life Course Outstanding Professor Award for Exceptional Teaching and Mentoring of Emerging Scholars in Aging

Recent External Grants

  • 2019-2024: Co-Investigator, R01 DC017017-01, Kaganovich (PI) National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, Audiovisual Processing in Children with Developmental Language Disorders.

  • 2018-2023: Co-Investigator, R01 HD091373-01, MacDermid Wadsworth (PI), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Effects during adolescence of early childhood exposure to parental wartime deployment.

  • 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.

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

Professional Service

Ad Hoc Journal Review

American Journal of Epidemiology, American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Sociology, BMC Public Health, Child Development, Child Development Perspectives , Children and Youth Services Review, Current Sociology, Developmental Psychology, European Journal of Public Health, Journal of Adolescent Health, Journal of Aging and Health, Journal of Children and Poverty, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Journal of Family Issues, Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, Journal of Research on Adolescence, The Journal of Primary Prevention, Population Research and Policy Review, Psychological Methods, PLOS One, Social Science Research, The Journal of Primary Prevention

Grant Review

Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Collaboration in Translational Research Pilot Grant Program, September 2018.

Sharon Christ
Associate Professor

(Pronouns: she/her/hers)

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)

Fowler Memorial House, Room 215
Purdue University
1200 West State St.
West Lafayette, Indiana  47907-2055

Phone: 765-496-1638
Fax: 765-494-0503


Program Participation:

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