Much of Professor Shell's research centers around tuberculosis. She studies the stress response mechanisms that allow mycobacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis to survive the conditions encountered during human infection. Her lab approaches this problem from multiple angles, using M. tuberculosis and its avirulent relative M. smegmatis to interrogate the fundamental biology of gene regulation and stress responses, including the mechanisms that underlie survival of antibiotics. A long-term goal for her lab is to produce a knowledge base that will inform efforts to design more effective diagnostics, drugs, and regimens.
Scarlet Shell, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology, has received a $1.1 million CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for a five-year program to study the molecular mechanisms bacteria use to survive stressful conditions of starvation and lack of oxygen.