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The family is central to human development and family studies, as it is a primary context in which individual socialization and development take place. It is, perhaps, the principal medium through which culture, society, and social change affect the individual. And it is a social fact in itself that feeds back and can accelerate or mitigate changes occurring in the broader society.

Graduate study at Penn State offers students a unique opportunity to develop the substantive, methodological, and theoretical skills necessary to study human families.

  • David M. Almeida: Daily stress processes; adult development; family factors in mental health; work and family linkages; fatherhood; statistical techniques for measuring change.
  • Sunhye (Sunny) Bai: Sunhye Bai researches daily family processes that shape adolescent development, with a focus on family-based risk and protective factors for youth internalizing problems.
  • Mayra Bamaca-Colbert: Immigrant youth and families, with an emphasis on how culture and parenting/parent-child relationships interact with other contexts (e.g., peer and neighborhoods) to affect adolescent adjustment.
  • Christian Connell: Factors impacting parental engagement in child abuse or neglect; impact of caregiver wellbeing (e.g., mental health, substance misuse) on child health and safety; impact of family- and community-based services on parent wellbeing and family functioning; impact of foster caregiver characteristics and practices on child welfare outcomes.
  • Gregory M. Fosco: Family systems processes and children’s social-emotional development, family-centered preventive interventions for youth emotional and behavioral problems, interparental conflict and child development, emotion regulation and self-regulation.
  • Steffany J. Fredman: Individual psychopathology in a couple and family context; military couples and families; dyadic early intervention after trauma exposure; couple-based interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Rukmalie Jayakody: The impacts of poverty and social policies on families and children: welfare reform and barriers to self-sufficiency; family structure and child outcomes; living arrangements and family transitions.
  • Lynn M. Martire: Family relationships and management of chronic illness in adulthood; couple-oriented interventions; chronic pain; late-life depression.
  • Susan M. McHale: Family relationships and family roles (particularly gender roles) in childhood and adolescence; differential socialization of siblings.
  • Douglas M. Teti: Socioemotional development in infancy and early childhood; parenting and coparenting in bedtime/nighttime contexts, infant sleep, and infant development; family-based preventive interventions to promote early development and parent-child relations; role of child sleep, parenting, and co-parenting in the transition to kindergarten.
  • Samantha Tornello: Sexual and gender minority parents; pathways to parenthood; couple dynamics and family functioning; division of labor; children's development, and stigma and discrimination.