Growing up in Washington, Kelly has always felt connected to nature and the outdoors. With the Puget Sound and Cascade Range in her backyard, it came as no surprise that she decided to study environmental science, graduating from Santa Clara University with a B.Sc. in environmental science and Spanish studies. Her studies led her to a life of science travel, taking natural history courses in Baja and conducting research at a field station in Costa Rica.
She later received her master’s degree in coastal and marine resource management from University of California- Santa Barbara where she researched the impacts of ocean acidification on marine protected areas and taught undergraduate biology and ecology courses. After completing her master’s, Kelly was a Lead Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust and worked aboard the E/V Nautilus, a research vessel that uses remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to explore the deep sea.
Through her experience as a sea kayak expedition guide and coastal policymaker working to prevent nutrient pollution and ocean acidification, and her adventures scuba diving and exploring new places, Kelly has found the best way to inspire conservation is by finding ways for people to connect with nature and with each other.