Following a post-doctoral fellow at University of Connecticut from 1986 to 1988 in paleobotany, Kelly taught at Appalachian State University in North Carolina from 1988 to 1997 (promoted to Associate Professor and tenured in 1994) and at California State University, Hayward from 1997 to 2002. She joined Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus in the Department of Applied Biological Sciences in 2002. Currently, she teaches General Genetics and two successive courses in Applied Plant Taxonomy. She is a member of the Association for Plant Taxonomy (ASPT) and the Botanical Society of America (BSA). She has received funding from the National Science Foundation to fund her work on the molecular systematics of the flowering plant genus Medicago which includes the important legume forage crops alfalfa and bur-clover. As part of her research efforts she has traveled to Iran and visited herbaria in Germany and England to collect plant material. Kelly Steele is active with local organizations including Central Arizona Weed Management Association (CWMA) that provide public education on invasive plant species.
Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of California-Santa Barbara, 1986
B.A., Zoology, University of California-Santa Barbara, 1975