Fate and Transport Research for Human and Ecological Exposure Risks


Kelly G. Pennell, PhD, PE is an established fate-and-transport expert who has been part of the environmental health and engineering academic community for over a decade working within multi-disciplinary teams. She is adept at drawing connections between separate disciplines related to complex environmental problems. Her professional experience as an environmental consultant (1997-2002), policy liaison (2005-2011) and an academic researcher provides unique and critical experience to integrate information resources and meaningfully engage with a variety of stakeholders relevant to the topic of environmental fate and transport.  Dr. Pennell has built stakeholder relationships and multidisciplinary teams to conduct field studies and investigate environmental exposure risks and (re)define conceptual models for exposure. From 2009 to 2013, she conducted a multi-organization study in a neighborhood in the Boston-Area. More recently, from 2014-2018, she led a field study with US EPA, the City of Mountain View, CA, and a “start-up” sensor company to investigate pollution in a San Francisco California-bay area neighborhood that extended several miles and involved an aging sanitary sewer system. Dr. Pennell is passionate about connecting research with policy and practice.  The focus of her research program aims to conduct stakeholder-engaged,  environmental fate and transport research that improves human and ecological exposure risk predictions for legacy and emerging pollutants.

Dr. Pennell has served in leadership roles at the University of Kentucky for several years.  She has been actively engaged in the UK Superfund Research Center (UK-SRC), since she joined UK in 2013. From 2016-2019, she served in leadership (e.g. associate director and acting director) of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI). From 2018-2019 she served as the acting director of the Tracy Farmer Institute of Sustainability and the Environment (TFISE).  Both Institutes (KWRRI and TFISE) are administratively located in the Office of the Vice President of Research. In addition, along with faculty from four other departments within the College of Engineering, she established an “official” undergraduate environmental engineering certificate program in 2018 and serves as the director of the certificate program.  Prior to University Senate approval of the current certificate program, she was the director of an “unofficial” certificate program from 2015-2018.


2005, Purdue University, PhD-Civil (Environmental) Engineering

2001, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, MS-Environmental Engineering

1997, Lawrence Technological University, BS-Civil Engineering

Professional Experience

2016-present: University of Kentucky, Associate Professor

2013-2016: University of Kentucky, Assistant Professor

2010-2013: University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth, Assistant Professor

2005-2011: Brown University Superfund Research Program, Governmental Liaison

2008-2010: Brown University, Research Assistant Professor

1997-2002, ARCADIS, Project Engineer