Vice Chair

Chemical Engineering

Scott Shell


We use molecular simulation and statistical mechanical theory to understand multi-scale, hierarchical interactions in complex soft materials and biomaterials. Our current foci include:

Multiscale modeling.  We are developing fundamental strategies to create accurate coarse-grained models that enable unprecedented large-scale yet predictive simulations of complex molecular systems. (1) We introduced a powerful, universal approach to coarse-graining using the relative entropy, a quantity that measures information loss upon coarsening.  (2) With Leal, we are creating hybrid simulation strategies that couple molecular and hydrodynamic models.  (3) With Fredrickson, we are integrating molecular simulations and polymer field theory to develop new design workflows for complex polymer and colloidal formulations. 

In silico design of materials and interfaces.   We are developing optimization strategies coupled to molecular simulations that discover novel interfacial materials with programmed thermodynamic and transport properties.  Current applications include the design of next-generation water purification membranes (with Han, Segalman). 

Water and hydrophobic interactions at interfaces.  The hydrophobic interaction drives self-organization in living systems and many complex fluids.  We are elucidating thermodynamic and molecular-structural explanations for its unusual but central role in a variety of phenomena, including peptide-surface interactions, nanobubbles, and solute-interface adsorption.

Peptide self-assembly. Peptides are versatile self-assembling systems that offer new bottom-up routes to nanoscale materials and scaffolds.  We use multiscale simulations to uncover sequence-structure relationships underlying their assembly, and novel systems for achieving new structural behavior. 



The Shell Lab


  • CoMSEF Impact Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2017
  • Invited Lecture, 14th International Conference on Properties and Phase Equilibria for Product and Process Design (PPEPPD), 2016
  • Dudley A. Saville Lectureship, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, 2015
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, UCSB Academic Senate, 2014
  • Named among 80 seminal papers in the J. of Chemical Physics’ 80th Anniversary Collection, 2013
  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor, CSEP programs, CNSI, UCSB, 2013
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, UCSB Housing & Residential Services, 2012
  • Sloan Research Fellowship, 2012
  • Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching Award, 2011
  • Hellman Family Faculty Fellowship, 2010
  • ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator Award, 2010
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2009
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, UCSB Housing & Residential Services, 2009
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award, 2007
  • Porter Ogbus Jacobus Honorific Fellowship (Princeton), 2004
  • Ticona Outstanding Second Proposition Award (Princeton ChE), 2004
  • William R. Schowalter Travel Award (Princeton ChE), 2003
  • Ticona Excellence in Teaching Assistantship Award (Princeton ChE), 2002
  • Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 2000
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship offer (declined), 2000
  • Gordon Wu Fellowship (Princeton), 2000
  • Andrew Carnegie Scholar (Carnegie Mellon), 1999
  • Tau Beta Pi, 1998


BS: Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University (2000)
PhD: Chemical Engineering, Princeton University (2005)
Postdoc: Biophysics, University of California San Francisco (2005-07)

Lab Websites