In junior high school, Brent Shell tinkered with computers. He took them apart and put them back together again, just to satisfy his curiosity.
“Even to this day, I wonder how things work,” says Shell, a lecturer of anatomy and biology in the Department of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences.
Discovering how computers worked, what each component did and how the individual units functioned as a whole got him thinking about biological systems and the human body.
“Computers are an incredible puzzle and so, too, are biological systems,” Shell says. “I enjoy learning about the beautiful complexity that makes computers and biological systems function.”
As an undergraduate, he double-majored in psychology and biology. His desire for a deeper understanding of how the human body works led him to research.
As a Ph.D. biomedical sciences student, Shell studied how the brain controls blood pressure. His excitement about the research triggered an interest in teaching.
“While working through my dissertation, I just couldn't shut up about it,” he says. “I found that I loved teaching and discussing physiology, so I slowly transitioned to more teaching responsibilities.”
When he arrived at UMass Lowell as a lecturer in 2017, Shell also took on the role of managing the Student Resource Center, a place where students get extra help from tutors, mentors, 3-D anatomy models and other resources.
And if that wasn’t enough, he worked as an advisor for the Health Education Academic Living Learning (HEALL), a living-learning community in the Riverview Suites residence hall that brings together students interested in health sciences.
He applied his knowledge of computer systems to both the Student Resource Center and HEALL. By creating digital check-in systems and online fun activities, he’s improving services and engaging students.
For his leadership, Residence Life recognized Shell with the “HEALL Advisor of the Year” award.
“It was exciting to be recognized for doing something I really enjoy,” he says.
A native of Houston, Texas, Shell has settled in to life in New England – and to UMass Lowell.
“I came to UMass Lowell because of the dedication of the faculty,” he says. “Every person I encountered during my interview was focused on helping students succeed and improving the quality of student life on campus. There is a wealth of compassion and commitment at UML that I had to be a part of. Even after being here for over a year, I am constantly learning about new initiatives and plans to maximize the student experience.”