HDFS faculty member named Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professor

June 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Samantha Tornello, assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State, has been named the Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professor in Health and Human Development.

Tornello’s research focuses on family composition, parental dynamics, and individual functioning of families headed by sexual and gender minority people. Her research also addresses how both positive and negative experiences can impact parents and children in these families.

Samantha Tornello

Samantha Tornello is assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State.

IMAGE: Penn State

“Receiving this professorship will allow me to significantly expand my current research program. It also shows me that the College of Health and Human Development and Penn State recognize the importance of research on sexual and gender minority parents and their children,” said Tornello.

“For example, in one study, I am examining the role of stigma and discrimination across the family creation process and during pregnancy. I want to understand what couples are navigating during this process, how these experiences impact the family, and how to improve the health and well-being of sexual and gender minority parents and their children.”

Tornello will hold the professorship for a period of three years. She plans to use the support that the professorship provides to pilot new studies and extend her current research using new methodology, including interviews and videotaped observations.

“For those who choose to become parents, the label of mom, dad or maddy is super important. I want to give a voice to those who often get left out of research on family, parents and children,” she said.

Douglas Teti, professor of human development and family studies and head of the department, said it is an honor for a professor in the department to receive this prestigious appointment.

“This professorship is intended for a person who, early in their career, has shown great promise,” he said. “The research that Samantha Tornello does is groundbreaking work, and this professorship will facilitate her research program and put her in good position to secure external funding.”

Tornello joined the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State's University Park campus in 2017. Previously, she was a faculty member in the psychology department at Penn State Altoona. She earned her doctorate in developmental and community psychology from the University of Virginia in 2014.

Early career professorships, like the three Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professorships made possible through her estate, provide faculty members with funds to support their professional development. These endowments also impact students, as professors often use such funds to hire undergraduate and graduate students as research or teaching assistants, or to cover students’ independent research or professional travel.

To learn more about the Penn State Department of Human Development and Family studies, visit hhd.psu.edu/hdfs.

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Last Updated June 28, 2019