Kelly received his Ph.D. in aquatic entomology from Michigan State University. His research interests include bioassassment of large river ecosystems and non-point source pollution of streams, but his passion is teaching. Kelly is the Environmental Studies Chairperson and regularly teaches ecology, evolution, and biodiversity courses for science majors and non-majors. He also teaches Global Seminar, which is an international collaboration in which students from around the world interact via videoconference and online to work through case studies examining sustainable development. He co-leads a Tropical Field Natural History study abroad trip to Colombia, where students get to explore the Central Andes, Amazon, and Caribbean regions of this culturally and biologically diverse country.
Currently, he serves on the Tompkins Cortland Sustainability Council, the College Teaching Center Board, and co-advises STAND, which is a student club aimed at increasing civic engagement in our college community.