Shelli Frey

G. Bowers and Louise Hook Mansdorfer Professorship in Chemistry & Professor




Campus Box 0393


Science Center
Room 356
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400


BS Haverford College, 2001
MS University of Chicago, 2003
PhD University of Chicago, 2008

Academic Focus

biophysical chemistry; lipid membrane biophysics

Research in my lab is biophysical in nature – essentially using physical and chemical techniques to answer biological questions about the cell membrane, the selectively phosholipid bilayer permeable structure that separates a cell’s interior from its surroundings. We use two-dimensional lipid monolayers at the air/water interface as models of the outer leaflet of the cell membrane that allow control over composition and surface density of the biological components. In addition to monolayers, we create and image with fluorescence microscopy more physiologically relevant giant unilamellar vesicles, essentially spherical lipid bilayers that model a cell membrane without any cellular contents. With access to several cell membrane models and a variety of biophysical techniques, current projects in Lipid lab focus on studying basic intermolecular interactions between the phospholipids contained in the layer  and measuring interactions of exogenous biological agents (nanoparticles, huntingtin protein and frog spit are examples) with the cell membrane – including how the agent affects the membrane and how the membrane affects the agent.
RECENT PUBLICATIONS (* denotes Gettysburg College student)
  1. M Chaibva, X Gao, P Jain, WA Campbell*, SL Frey, and J Legleiter. Sphingomyelin and GM1 influence huntingtin binding to, disruption of, and aggregation on lipid membranes, ACS Omega, 2018, 3(1), 273-285.
  1. SL Frey, EB Watkins, EY Chi, KD Cao, T Pacuszka, J Majewski, KYC Lee. Enhanced ordering in monolayers containing glycosphingolipids: impact of carbohydrate structure. Biophysical Journal, 2018, 114(5), 1103-1115.
  1. X Gao, WA Campbell*, M Chaibva, P Jain, AE Leslie, SL Frey, and J Legleiter. Cholesterol modifies huntingtin binding to, disruption of, and aggregation on lipid membranes. Biochemistry 2016, 55(1), 92-102.
  1. SL Frey, J Todd, E Wurtzler, CR Strelez*, and D Wendell. A non-foaming proteosurfactant engineered from Ranaspumin-2. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 2015, 133, 239-245.


  • The George I. Alden Tust: Acquisition of an atomic force microscope for Gettysburg College. June 2018. 
  • National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Grant: Acquisition of a circular dichroism spectropolarimeter for research and training of undergraduates at Gettysburg College. August 2017 – July 2020. 
  • Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh College Equipment Grant to obtain a modular spectrofluorometer. May 2016.