Kelly is an archaeobotanist with interests in food systems, agricultural development, cultural adaptations to environmental change and global sustainability. Her work focuses predominantly on the reconstruction of past diet and subsistence strategies in the Balkans from the Neolithic to the Late Middle Ages (6000 BC – 16th Century AD). She is particularly interested in exploring how archaeology and anthropology can help inform current food systems issues, especially as they are tools well-suited to investigating food security and agricultural development over different time frames and under different challenges.
Kelly is currently the Programme Manager for the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, which links together existing research on the food system at Oxford and supports new interdisciplinary research that addresses the challenges of feeding the global population in a healthy, equitable and sustainable way. A substantive part of this work involves project managing the Wellcome Trust, Our Planet Our Health, funded Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) Project, which aims to understand the health, environment, social and economic effects of meat and dairy consumption to provide evidence and tools for decision makers to promote healthy and sustainable diets.