M. Scott Shell (he/him/his)

John Myers Founder's Chair 
Department Vice Chair


(805) 893-4346
3321 Engineering II
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5080

ChemE Research Areas: 


2024  Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2022  Academic Senate Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award
2018  John E. Myers Founder's Chair in Chemical Engineering
2017  AIChE CoMSEF Impact Award
2015  Dudley A. Saville Lectureship, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Princeton University
2014  Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award
2013  Named among 80 seminal papers in the J. of Chemical Physics' 80th Anniversary Collection
2012  Sloan Research Fellowship
2011  Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching Award
2009  NSF CAREER Award
2007  Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award
2004  Porter Ogbus Jacobus Honorific Fellowship (Princeton)
2000  Wu Fellowship (Princeton)
2000  Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship

Research Description: 

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. 


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

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