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Department of Women's Studies

Department of Women's Studies

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Samantha Tornello

Samantha  Tornello

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Office Phone: (814) 949-5000


Dr. Tornello has been a faculty member at Penn State Altoona since 2014. She has two major research interests: Families and sexual orientation. The majority of her work has focused on the role of family composition in children’s development, parental dynamics, and couple functioning. How do variations (e.g., pathways to parenthood or division of unpaid labor) and changes (e.g., divorce) in family composition relate to family members’ development and functioning? Specifically, in this area of work Dr. Tornello is interested in the role and experiences of fathers, both gay and heterosexual, as it relates to their children within these differently designed families. A second line of research focuses on the reproductive and sexual health of sexual minority individuals. What are the experiences of sexual minority individuals compared to their heterosexual peers? What are the unique challenges, strengths, and issues among this population? How can we harvest the resiliency and minimize the risk impacting sexual minority people and their lives? How do sexual minority people decide to become parents and what methods do they use to create their families? Dr. Tornello hopes that all areas of her research can add to knowledge as well as inform public debates about parenting, sexual orientation, and children’s development. Dr. Tornello loves to mentor undergraduate students as research assistants and collaborators. Dr. Tornello also teaches Introductory Psychology, Psychology of Gender, and courses in Developmental Psychology.