Shobhana Chelliah's research is primarily in the field of documentary and descriptive linguistics which seeks to preserve, analyze, and mine data from little-studied endangered languages for the wealth of linguistic and cognitive information they offer while at the same time assisting communities in maintaining and renewing their linguistic and cultural heritage. She is currently the Program Director for the National Science Foundation’s Documenting Endangered Languages program. Chelliah has been working since 2008 on projects funded by the National Science Foundation to document Lamkang, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Northeast India. Her publications deal with linguistic field methodology, case marking in Tibeto-Burman, and the structure of Methei. Chelliah also conducts research on the structure and use of English around the world, with special emphasis on the teaching and use of English in the former British colonies. She teaches courses both in Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language tracks.