Bharathi Jayanthi Zvara

Bharathi Jayanthi Zvara, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Maternal and Child Health
Faculty Fellow
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
Faculty Fellow
Integrative Medicine, UNC School of Medicine
421C Rosenau Hall
CB# 7445
Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Dr. Bharathi Zvara is an Associate Professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a developmental psychologist whose main research interest is in the emotional and behavioral development in young children. A central focus of her research is to characterize the effects of early-life adversity and trauma and identify the biological and behavioral mechanisms through which early childhood experiences impact growth and development. Her work documents the key role of the family system, responsive caregiving practices, and the broader environment in which children live and develop. Her goal is to produce translatable knowledge to inform policies and programs that ultimately improve the lives of children and families. 

Honors and Awards

Editorial Board
2021, Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science

Grand Rounds - Department of Medline
2019, UNC-CH

Grand Rounds - Department of Pediatrics
2018, UNC-CH

National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Award

Teaching Interests

Dr. Zvara teaches courses that explore theories and models for understanding how family relationships and family experiences are associated with child development and well-being. The courses examine the dynamic relations between the individual and his or her social environment that are necessarily interdependent, exerting a continuous and reciprocal influence on one another. Students consider how a researcher goes from complex theories to actually doing research to test some of the questions that arise from theory; they also discuss different methods that can be used in developmental research, and the strengths and weaknesses of different methods.

Representative Courses

PSYC 250 Child Development

MHCH 702- Foundations of Maternal and Child Health

Research Activities

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust: Innovations for Public Good. Supporting Child Mental Health in the Robeson Lumbee Community

Principal Investigator, Childhood Maltreatment, and the Transition to Parenting: A Psychobiological Model. Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Co-Investigator, Mood, Mother and Child: The Psychobiology of Dyadic Resilience. Funded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Co-Investigator, A Mechanistic Study of the Association between Poverty and Executive Functions in Early Childhood: Contributions of Early Brain Development and the Early Caregiving Environment. Funded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Principal Investigator, Characterizing trajectories of parent-child mealtime interactions across the toddler to preschool period to identify parent-child relationship qualities that increase risk for obesity and identify aspects self-regulation that predict healthy weight in preschool aged children. Funded by The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Service Activities

2020-present Department of Maternal and Child Health, Master’s Committee 

2016-2019 Department of Maternal and Child Health, Adjunct Professor Appointment Committee

Practice Activities

Associate Director CDS Observes, FPG Child Development Institute

Editorial Review Board Member of Journal, Family Relations 

Brain Development Research Consortium FPG Child Development Institute

Key Publications

Factors Associated with Parenting Stress in Parents of 18month old Children. Khalsa, AM., Weber, Z., Zvara, BJ., Keim, S., Andridge, R., Anderson, S. (2021). Child: Care, Health & Development.
View publication

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Maternal Age are Associated with Successful Detoxification from Opioids in Pregnancy. Macfie, J., Towers, C., Fortner, K., Stuart, G., Zvara, BJ., Kurdziel-Adams, G., Kors, S., Noose, S., Gorrondona, A., & Cohen, C.  (2021). Addictive Behaviors.
View publication

A Mixed Methods Analysis of Environmental and Household Chaos: Implications for Childhood Obesity Prevention Through Toddlerhood. Krupsky, K., Parrott, A., Andridge, R., Zvara, BJ., Keim, S., Anderson, S. (2021). BMC Public Health.
View publication

Associations between caregiver knowledge of infant development and aspects of caregiver well-being in a sample of toddlers born premature and full- term. Sullivan, J., Zvara, BJ., Keim, S., Andridge, R., Anderson, S.  (2021). The Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
View publication

Maternal and Paternal Attachment Style and Chaos as Risk Factors for Parenting Behavior. Zvara, B.J., Lathren, C., Mills-Koonce, R. (2020). Family Relations.
View publication

Intimate Partner Violence, Parenting, and Children’s Representation of Mothers and Fathers. Zvara BJ, Mills-Koonce WR (2020). Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
View publication

Pregnant Women’s History of Childhood Maltreatment and Current Opioid Use Severity: The Mediating Role of Reflective Functioning. Macfie, J., Zvara, BJ., Stuart, G., Kurdziel-Adams, G., Kors, S., Fortner, K., Towers, C., Gorrondona, A., Noose, S. (2020). Additive Behaviors.
View publication

Maternal history of childhood maltreatment and children's cognitive and social development. Zvara, BJ., M. Burchinal & the Family Life Project Key Contributors (2019). Early Child Development and Care.
View publication


  • PhD, Developmental Psychology (Quantitative Psychology Concentration), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • MS, Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University
  • BS, Biochemistry, The Ohio State University