Professor Kelley is a Kansas native and attended Wichita State University. She traveled to New York for graduate work and Northern California for research. Professor Kelley returned to Kansas in 2016 to join the Department of American Studies after teaching at the Universities of Miami, Oklahoma, and Illinois.
Professor Kelley's work focuses on broad issues of gender, health, and marginalized populations. Her newest research is an investigation of women, guns, and American culture. It involves a national survey of gun ownership, attitudes, and behaviors for women, along with an ethnographic study of women and gun identity. Another of Professor Kelley's recent projects involves collecting and analyzing data on the role of "natural mentors," specifically teachers and coaches, in delinquency outcomes for adolescents. Finally, Professor Kelley is continuing to study the role of gender schemas for career choice in cross-cultural and international settings. Professor Kelley has conducted research on a number of health-related topics including illicit drug use, drug treatment, needle exchange, HIV/AIDS risk behaviors, problem alcohol use, and sports. She teaches about drugs and alcohol on a regular basis. Professor Kelley's multi-method approach to these topics draws on theories from deviance, criminology, and medical sociology with a focus on social learning and community connections. She has recently written and published articles about college drinking, gender, delinquency, and sports. Professor Kelley is a faculty affiliate in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and holds a courtesy appointment in Sociology.