Dr. Kelton received his B.S. in Mathematics from Arkansas Polytechnic College graduating magna cum laude and his masters in Physics from the University of Tennessee; his thesis was entitled "Kinetic Properties of Thin Film Solid Solution Gold (Calcium) Alloys Prepared by Simultaneous Vapor Deposition, P. G. Huray - Thesis Advisor. In 1980 he received his M.S. in Applied Physics at Harvard University and in 1983 his Ph.D. in Applied Physics also from Harvard University. His doctoral thesis title - "Electrical Resistivity Measurements of Structural Relaxation and Crystallization and Transient Nucleation in Amorphous Metals," F. Spaepen - Thesis Advisor.
From 1983 to the present Dr. Kelton has served as: a Post Doctoral Fellow in the Division of Applied Sciences at Harvard University, Assistant Professor of Physics at Washington University, Associate Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Science at Washington University, Associate Professor of Physics at Washington University, Adjunct Senior Investigator, Graduate Center for Materials Research at the University of Missouri at Rolla, Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Science at Washington University, Consultant MEMC Corporation and ABB/Alstom, Inc. and Professor of Physics at Washington University. He was installed as the Arthur Holly Compton Professor in Arts & Sciences in October, 2006. He served as the Chair of the Physics Department from July 2007 through June 2012. In July 2013, he became the inaugural director of the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, a PhD granting institute that sits in both the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.