Kelly Lin Searsmith

Kelly Lin Searsmith
Kelly Lin Searsmith

Administrative Titles

Technical Research Writer
(217) 300-5336
290Y Loomis Laboratory


Kelly Searsmith is committed to strengthening research culture and infrastructure in higher education and to contributing to academic and professional literacies theory and practice. She joined Physics Illinois in September 2017 as an academic professional who provides faculty with writing support and sponsored research administration consulting and assistance. Kelly also contributes to STEM communications curriculum and pedagogy development.

PHYS/GLBL 280: Worked with Prof. Matthias Grosse Perdekamp and instructional staff to redesign the final research paper sequence and contributed throughout the term to the evolution of best literacy instructional practices in the course. Spring 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Presentation for REU participants and others on "Anticipating Audience in Communicating Scientific Knowledge." MRSEC program, Summer 2018, and Physics program, Summer 2019.

Professional Experience

Before joining Physics Illinois, Kelly worked in program and project management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in partnership with UI researchers, as well as in support of literacy in secondary and higher education. Her positions have included Assistant Director for Planning and Development for the NCSA eDream Institute (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media); Director of Research and Development of Common Ground Research Network's Software Division on the Scholar literacy learning environment (in partnership with Professors Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis's research group at the College of Education); Liaison for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)''s Secondary and College Sections and the Conference on English Leadership; and Research Analyst for Advancement at Case Western Reserve University, specializing in individual, foundation, and corporate research for major capital gift solicitation and stewardship. In these positions and others, Kelly has contributed to strategic communications and grants development, writing, and/or management.

In addition to these professional roles, Kelly has taught English since 1987 (30+ years) at the college level, earning teaching awards from UI as a graduate instructor and non-tenure track faculty and working on the tenure track at a public university in North Carolina; administered professional and composition writing programs (UI English, U MD-University College); assessed the oral proficiency of prospective international teaching assistants (UI CITL); and worked for a decade as a freelance academic editor specializing in international English and developmental and substantive editing. Kelly also served as a contributing editor and reader for a peer-reviewed journal in her original academic specialty and as a copy editor for an international journal of civil engineering. She has published both creative work and scholarship.


Ph.D. Student in Higher Education, University of Illinois, Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, College of Education, Fall 2021-present

Ed.M. in Higher Education, University of Illinois, Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, College of Education, 2019-2021.

Ph.D., University of Illinois, Department of English, Fall 1999.

M.A., Case Western Reserve University, Department of English, Fall 1990.

B.A. cum laude, Case Western Reserve University, Departments of English and Psychology, Spring 1987.

Collegiate Member, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Professional Membership

National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA), 2018-present.

UI Sponsored Research Administration Campus Research Administrator Cohort A, 2018-2019.

Association on Higher Education and Disability, 2021-present

Invited Talks

American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 22 November 2019, Orlando, FL. With Laura DeThorne (Western Michigan University). "Autism & Neurodiversity: Reimagining the Strengths of the Human Spectrum."

University of Illinois Department of Psychology Diversity Seminar, Counseling-Community Program, 22 February 2019. With Sarah Christensen, organizer, CU Human Library. "Volunteering as a Human Book: A Late-Life Autism Diagnosis."

Illinois Speech Hearing Language Association Convention, 18-19 October 2019, Rosemont, IL. Individual Presenter and Co-Presenter with Laura DeThorne (Western Michigan University). "The Cliff at Childhood's End: Helping Emerging Adults Make the Leap to College" and "Autism and the Neurodiversity Paradigm."

Panel discussion participant, CITL-DRES Accessibility MOOC, August 2018.

Campus Volunteering

  • Advocate for the autism community and mentor to students on the autism spectrum who have registered with Disability Resources & Educational Services:

Volunteer, CU Human Library Project, which is committed to sharing the stories of individuals with potentially stigmatizing identities with members of their lived communities in an effort to grow compassionate understanding for difference, 2017-present.

Video interviewee, accompaniment to the American Speech and Hearing Association Sig 1 April 2018 special journal issue on autism (edited by then-UI Professor Laura DeThorne).

Consultant, Theater Illinois production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Director Latrelle Bright), February 2019 performance, KCPA.