M. Giovanna Merli

M. Giovanna Merli

Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology

External Address: 
236 Rubenstein Hall, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90312, Durham, NC 27708-0312
(919) 613-9305


My research straddles three disciplinary realms: demography, contemporary Chinese society and global health. I focus on a range of population and health issues in developing countries that intersect frontline public policy, such as the role of China's population control program in lowering fertility preferences and fertility rates in China, the social and behavioral determinants of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and the methodological evaluation and implementation of network-based approaches to sample hard-to-reach and hidden populations such as those at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as undocumented migrants. 

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania 1996

  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania 1993

Selected Grants

Focused Training in Social Networks and Health awarded by National Institutes of Health (Investigator). 2015 to 2020

Duke Population Research Institute awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2020

Testing Multiple Modes of Data Collection with Network Sampling with Memory awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

Using Multiple Data Sources to Improve Respondent Driven Sampling Estimation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2016

HIV risk behaviors among methamphetamine users in Cape Town, South Africa awarded by National Institutes of Health (Investigator). 2012 to 2015

Developing an Interdisciplinary Graduate Curriculum in Global Health awarded by National Institutes of Health (Course Faculty). 2008 to 2012

Verdery, AM, Merli, MG, Moody, J, Smith, JA, and Fisher, JC. "Brief Report: Respondent-driven Sampling Estimators Under Real and Theoretical Recruitment Conditions of Female Sex Workers in China." Epidemiology 26.5 (September 2015): 661-665. Full Text

Merli, MG, Moody, J, Mendelsohn, J, and Gauthier, R. "Sexual Mixing in Shanghai: Are Heterosexual Contact Patterns Compatible With an HIV/AIDS Epidemic?." Demography 52.3 (June 2015): 919-942. Full Text

Kimani, SM, Watt, MH, Merli, MG, Skinner, D, Myers, B, Pieterse, D, MacFarlane, JC, and Meade, CS. "Respondent driven sampling is an effective method for engaging methamphetamine users in HIV prevention research in South Africa." Drug and alcohol dependence 143 (October 2014): 134-140. Full Text

He, W, James, SA, Merli, MG, and Zheng, H. "An increasing socioeconomic gap in childhood overweight and obesity in China." American Journal of Public Health 104.1 (January 2014): e14-e22. Full Text

Fisher, JC, and Merli, MG. "Stickiness of respondent-driven sampling recruitment chains." Network Science (Cambridge University Press) 2.2 (January 2014): 298-301. Full Text Open Access Copy

Tian, FF, Merli, MG, and Qian, Z. "Job Mobility and Extramarital Sex in Reform-Era Urban China." Chinese Sociological Review 46.1 (October 2013): 60-82. Full Text

Yamanis, TJ, Merli, MG, Neely, WW, Tian, FF, Moody, J, Tu, X, and Gao, E. "An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Recruitment Patterns on RDS Estimates among a Socially Ordered Population of Female Sex Workers in China." Sociological Methods & Research 42.3 (August 2013). Full Text

Weir, SS, Merli, MG, Li, J, Gandhi, AD, Neely, WW, Edwards, JK, Suchindran, CM, Henderson, GE, and Chen, X-S. "A comparison of respondent-driven and venue-based sampling of female sex workers in Liuzhou, China." Sex Transm Infect 88 Suppl 2 (December 2012): i95-101. Full Text