Kalil is a developmental psychologist who studies child and family functioning in low-income households. She has served as a research fellow in the Program on Poverty and Social Welfare Policy at the University of Michigan.Her research focuses on welfare reform and child development; transitions to adulthood for teenage mothers; and the effects of cohabitation and multigenerational coresidence on child and adolescent adjustment. In April 2002, Kalil received a W.T. Grant Scholars Grant for her study "Consequences of Parental Job Loss for Adolescents." She also received an Individual National Research Service Award, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Postdoctoral Fellowship in 1997.