New Professor Spotlight: Dr. Robert Kelley from the Computer Science Department

The Mathematics and Computer Science faculty. Photo courtesy of

Computer Science is one of the fastest-growing majors on campus. This fall, the department which had been made up solely of three full-time professors, expanded with the hiring of Dr. Robert Kelley, Assistant Professor of Computer Science.

This semester, Dr. Kelley teaches Introduction to Computer Science, Distributed and Parallel Programing, as well as Data Visualization. In the future, he hopes to put together a course in Machine Learning with the hopes that it “will be fun for students as well as myself,” he said.

Dr. Kelly originally obtained a BA in English with the goal of attending law school, but upon graduation, decided that he was uninterested in being an attorney. He then went into a MS program for Library and Information Science and was exposed to many different computing topics there. After completing that program, he became a part of the PhD program in Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Louisville. He graduated from there in 2010 and his dissertation research was on security for wireless sensor networks.

After graduation, he stayed at the University of Louisville as a post-doc and worked the Real-time Decision Support System for Pandemic Response. “The project was to develop a computational system to assist pandemic response personnel with making decisions on where and how to distribute food, vaccines and other resources across the state of Kentucky in the case of [a] massive pandemic,” Dr. Kelley said.

After working there, he transitioned to working at the same university as an assistant professor in the School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. The research focused on respiratory infectious diseases, such as influenza and pneumonia, and Dr. Kelly was responsible for various processes of data analysis He shared that his formal education background is “definitely unique” within the field of computer science.

Currently, Dr. Kelly is interested in using computer science for the “building [of] data visualization systems and measuring their effectiveness using cognitive task analysis.” Data can oftentimes be understood more readily if placed in a visual format so that patterns or trends may be more readily detected by someone analyzing it. This computer software would create such a visual representation of otherwise text-based data. Dr. Kelley also is intrigued by “designing and implementing wireless sensor networks with which to collect real-time data [from which] I can implement real-time visualization and machine learning algorithms.”

After spending the last five years only in research environments and having limited contact with undergraduate students, Dr. Kelly is excited to be back in the classroom teaching and about the possibilities of cross-disciplinary collaboration a liberal arts college like St. Mary’s provides,” he said.