Professor Kelly’s research interests are in eating behaviors, body image beliefs, weight stigma, and chronic disease risk. She has specific interests in cognitive and emotional mechanisms for eating behaviors associated with poor mental health and increased chronic disease risk. Her program of research utilizes a diverse array of research methods including experimental paradigms; test meals; dietary recalls; neuropsychological evaluations; ecological momentary assessments; eye-tracking; and actigraphy. She aims to highlight the voices and experiences of those who have traditionally been understudied and underserved in eating, body image, and health related literature, including men, individuals in rural communities, and adults with diverse ethnic, racial, sexual orientation and gender identities. Ultimately, her program of research aims to inform the development and evaluation of culturally-informed theories and interventions for the equitable promotion of health and well-being.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Through my science, mentorship and teaching, I am committed to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion on and off campus, and for my students and the communities we serve. In all of these contexts, I have undergone and continue to undergo a critical self-examination of whose stories are being told and who is best being served. In response, I have shifted my teaching and mentorship approach to better empower my students who have a history of marginalization within academic and professional systems. For example, identity, culture, and values are openly discussed in our annual student evaluation meetings. These discussions are rooted in an ecological framework and regularly shape my mentorship and teaching approaches. I strive to intentionally create space for the opinions and experiences of my students, many of whom hold multiple marginalized identities, and these ideas are integrated into our curricula and research. While there is always room for critique and evolution, my science is dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of those who have been underrepresented and underserved. Some examples of our team’s ongoing initiatives include: overhauling the language we use to avoid stigmatization and enhance inclusivity, and advocating for these linguistic changes among the local health agencies we partner with; creating and evaluating educational interventions targeting individual and systemic perpetrators of bias and discrimination; improving health behavior-related disparities in resource-marginalized rural communities; and applying culturally-sensitive approaches to examine and adapt existing psychological theories among those whose experiences have not historically been considered. Ultimately, we aim to use inclusive outreach and research practices in psychological science to create a positive and equitable impact on individuals’ and communities’ health and well-being.
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Behavioral Health Psychology, August 2013-2016
Uniformed Services University and National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD
Doctor of Philosophy, Counseling Psychology, August 2013
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, May 2004
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
To see her full list of publications, visit her PubMed.
Ongoing research initiatives in Professor Kelly’s lab include: 1) Theoretical investigations of young men’s disordered eating symptoms using ecological momentary assessment data; 2) Evaluating the effectiveness of a brief physical activity manipulation to improve the neurocognitive functioning and eating behaviors of rural children; 3) Developing a school-based mindfulness intervention for improving rural middle school students’ neurocognitive and emotional functioning; 4) Evaluating the acceptability and feasibility of a brief body size discrimination workshop delivered in places of employment; and 5) Examining risk and protective factors in the health and health behaviors of adults with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations.