Christa Lilly

Honorary:, PhD, MS

Christa Lilly

I think biostatisticians have the best job in public health since we get to work with all these amazing students and their projects!

Introduce yourself.

I am a tenured associate professor in Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at WVU. I have applied biostatistical interests in psychometrics, factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and longitudinal data analysis with continuous outcome data. My applied research interests focus on the analysis of health-behavioral interactions between parents and children and the influence of those interactions on health outcomes. Often my examinations are centered in impoverished or medically underserved areas. I enjoy teaching multivariable biostatistics, structural equation modeling, and longitudinal data analysis.

What are your research interests and why did you choose to pursue them?

Although I’m a trained psychometrician, I’ve found a great home in public health as a biostatistician. I love knowing my research work is immediately impacting parent and child health. For example, I work with Drug-Free Moms and Babies project as their quantitative evaluator, and I worked for many years as the statistician for the CARDIAC project (which seeks to improve cardiovascular health in children in WV). Although I’m “just” the biostatistician working at my desk most days, I know through these projects I’ve helped save lives and that is incredibly rewarding.

What is something you love about teaching?

I love teaching applied biostatistics. For my final exam in one of my classes, I have my graduate students write a research project report on their own applied area of interest with a sample dataset. I love reading about all the different public health applications, everything from how best to clean lettuce to prevent E. Coli outbreaks, mapping tick-borne illnesses in WV, promoting clean needle use in a substance using population, and interventions for managing chronic illness such as diabetes.

I think biostatisticians have the best job in public health since we get to work with all these amazing students and their projects!

What is a career milestone or achievement of which you’re most proud?

Since I’m recently tenured, I guess I should say that! I think although I’m certainly happy to have tenure, what I’m most proud of would be my student-nominated teaching and mentoring awards. Honestly, anytime a student says that although my class was tough it taught them that biostatistics can be enjoyable, I love it.

What's your favorite...

  • Book: I’m an avid reader, so I can’t narrow this down to one! I’m always in the middle of several romance, sci-fi, and fantasy series; give me a strong female lead and a happy ending, please.
  • TV Series and/or Movie: The Mandalorian is fantastic.
  • Music Genre: I like pretty much everything but heavy metal.
  • Place You’ve Visited: I really loved New Zealand and Iceland; island countries with lots of mountains and gorgeous rivers, yes, please.
  • Local Restaurant: Again, there’s a bunch! Terra Café’s desserts and Hill and Hollow for dinner. Maybe lunch at Yama’s, and brunch at Iron Horse.
  • Thing To Do When You're Not Working: White water rafting or cross-country skiing

Anything else you’d like your future students to know about you?

One of my favorite things about being a biostatistician is doing consulting work. I think some folks would find working on so many different projects confusing (and it definitely can be), but I really enjoy the application of biostatistical skills in different areas and the challenge of always learning something new. I’m definitely never bored!