September 26, 2023
Kelly Stulce’s VTTI career started in August 2008 in a not uncommon way. She initially joined the Institute as a data reductionist, which involves viewing video and driving data from research studies and meticulously annotating the details frame by frame. This work is the backbone of VTTI’s naturalistic driving research and serves as an excellent training ground for those who aspire to work in one of VTTI’s research divisions or centers. (In naturalistic driving studies, VTTI researchers install cameras and other sensors that won’t disrupt the driving task into participants’ vehicles to capture real-world driving behaviors.)
In 2011, Kelly was brought in to work on the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP 2 NDS) as a project assistant; this part-time position later evolved into a full-time role. Kelly describes her time working on SHRP 2 as “an 11-year course in project logistics, data collection and quality management, and IRB protocol development that facilitated my growth into the project manager role I now hold.”
Currently serving in the Division of Vehicle, Driver, and System Safety, Kelly is responsible for coordinating all aspects of a project and ensuring that studies produce quality deliverables that meet sponsor requirements on time and within budget. She says, “On any given day, I may be called to serve as a problem solver, a cheerleader, or a taskmaster. My job is to make sure every member of the team has the resources and information they need to do theirs.”
Kelly also serves as the secretary for VTTI’s Road to Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (RIDE) Committee and as the IRB coordinator for the Vulnerable Road User Safety program, which involves making sure that the correct protocols are followed for studies involving human participants.
Prior to joining VTTI, Kelly taught English at Blacksburg’s middle and high schools. During her tenure there, she wrote and piloted the Creative Writing course for Montgomery County School System middle schools; she credits that experience with equipping her to develop training protocols at VTTI. When her daughter—now a student at James Madison University—started kindergarten, Kelly saw that working at VTTI would allow her to parlay her love for language, her passion for organization, and her proclivity for analytical thinking into a career where she could make a tangible difference.
A native of the New River Valley, Kelly holds a B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary, and she attended graduate school at Jacksonville State University. In February of this year, she earned Project Management Professional (PMP) credentials.
In her current role as an empty nester, Kelly stays busy spending time with her two golden retrievers, Charly and Bella, and four cats; she is also an avid reader. She typically reads five books at a time, with her selections running the gamut from classic literature to contemporary novels, non-fiction, memoirs, essay collections, and short stories.
She describes her work and her colleagues this way: “I am surrounded by a group of dedicated professionals who hold themselves to the highest standards of excellence. As a veteran of VTTI, I can honestly say that the drive to be my best and to equal the offerings of my colleagues has only grown during my time here. It doesn’t go away.”