Dr. Kelly L. Nash is from New Orleans, Louisiana. She completed her high school studies at the historic St. Mary's Academy. Dr. Nash's undergraduate education was completed at Dillard University in New Orleans. There she studied Physics and Mathematics while on both academic and research scholarships.

Between 1997 and 1999, she completed various summer research experiences at places including the Physics Department of the University of Iowa (1997), Data Storage Systems Center (DSSC) at Carnegie Mellon University (1998), and the Reconfigurable Machining Systems (RMS) Center at University of Michigan (1999). 

In 2000, she was accepted to the University of Michigan Applied Physics program. There she studied under Prof. Donald Umstadter as part of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. After receiving her M.Sc. degree in 2003, she spent time teaching at universities, including her alma mater, Dillard University.

In 2005, she joined the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, There she completed her doctoral studies under the guidance of Prof. Dhiraj K. Sardar in the area of rare earth spectroscopy and crystal field analyses in 2009. She was also named a Director's Fellow with the NSF-funded Center of Biophotonics Science and Technology  (CBST) at the University of California-Davis where she studied the potential applications of rare earth nanoparticles as imaging contrast agents.

Dr. Kelly Nash is a Professor of Physics and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Success at UTSA. She served as the Associate Dean for Faculty Success in the UTSA College of Sciences from 2019-2023. As the former Director of the Kleberg Advanced Microscopy Center (2018-2020), she oversaw the renovation and modernization of the center's operations, making it a premier user and training facility for advanced materials science and engineering research at UTSA. During her time as Graduate Advisor of Record for the graduate program in Physics at UTSA, she oversaw the development of the UTSA-APS Bridge Partnership which created a diverse pipeline of Physics doctoral students. 

Her scientific research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials and their biophysical interaction with biological systems from the molecular to the cellular level. The impact of her nanomaterials research stretches from fundamental biophysical studies to biomedicine, energy, and environmental applications. In 2015, she was awarded the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program award for her research efforts in biophysics.

Dr. Nash’s research accolades are complemented by her service record in the STEM community. Notably in 2017, she was elected to the national chair-line of the American Physical Society (APS) Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics. Over the three years of service to this effort, she demonstrated her leadership in the STEM community and inspired the next generation of physicists and engineers by supporting the expansion and access of this conference to physics and engineering majors by promoting speakers from diverse backgrounds. Through APS she has engaged hundreds of women in STEM through APS efforts that support the professional development of early career women in Communication and Negotiation Skills.  For these efforts, Nash has been highlighted as an APS Women Physicist of the Month. A platform that highlights women in Physics who serve as role models in the STEM community. 

Additionally, she has been given numerous awards for her contributions to science and promotion of inclusiveness in STEM including the  Dillard University Alumni 40 Under 40 award, the UTSA College of Sciences Excellence in Community Service Award, the San Antonio Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award, and UTSA President’s Distinguished Diversity Award. She continually advocates for both minorities and women to be involved in science and research early in their academic careers through strategic initiatives and programming within UTSA and abroad. 

Dr. Nash has a robust scholarly education research portfolio that focuses on developing best practices in STEM education, broadening the diversity of the workforce in STEM fields and the academy, and using experiential learning to provide science and engineering students with the necessary tools to tackle the most pressing issues confronting the U.S. in engineering and science. Over the last decade, Nash has led federally-funded programming that has exposed hundreds of underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students to research, and STEM careers in industry and her mentoring efforts have resulted in 3 NSF Graduate Research Fellow Program Awardees and 1 Barry Goldwater Scholar, all from URM populations.

As the first doctoral graduate of the UTSA Physics program and one of less than 100 African-American women with a Ph.D. in Physics at the time she earned her degree, Dr. Nash has continued to use her experience to serve as a role model to others.  She continues to advocate for the inclusion of women and URMs in STEM fields by serving as a campus advisor to the UTSA chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and Rowdy Women in Physics, which both foster supportive programming and networking for STEM students. In 2019 she was selected as an inaugural IAspire Leadership Academy Fellow sponsored by the APLU and UW-Madison. As Associate Dean for Faculty Success, she has worked to improve faculty diversity, including hires whose research span across various engineering disciplines. She has been integral to the UTSA College of Science’s efforts to develop mentoring programs, including those that support the career success of women and URM faculty. In June 2023, UTSA named Nash as its next Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Success, where she is building on her prior work in faculty recruitment, retention, and development while promoting best practices for diverse faculty university-wide. In recognition of her diversity and inclusion advocacy on local and national levels, Dr. Nash received the President’s Distinguished Diversity Award at UTSA, which bestows the highest level of recognition for work that fosters multicultural communities and competencies by engaging them in STEM research.

Dr. Nash continues to advocate for the inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields by serving as a campus advisor to the UTSA chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and Rowdy Women in Physics (Rowdy WiP) which fosters supportive programming and networking for STEM students.

Outside of her service in the academic community, Kelly has been an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated for over 25 years.