Mark R. Bell grew up in Southern California. He received the B.S.E.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in 1981 and the M.S.E.E. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1982 and 1988, respectively.

From 1979 to 1989 he was employed by Hughes Aircraft Company, Fullerton, CA. From 1979 to 1981 he worked in the Microcircuit Electronics group. From 1981 to 1989 he was affiliated with the Radar Systems Laboratory at Hughes, where he held the positions of Member of the Technical Staff and Staff Engineer and worked in the areas of radar signal processing, radar signal design, electromagnetic scattering, radar target identification, and radar systems analysis. While at Caltech, he was a Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellow. Since 1989, he has been on the Faculty of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, where he is a Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests are in the areas of radar and sonar, information theory, detection and estimation theory, and communications. At Purdue, Professor Bell teaches the undergraduate courses ECE301 (Signals and Systems) and ECE302 (Probabilistic Methods in ECE), and the graduate courses ECE600 (Probability and Random Processes), ECE642 (Information Theory and Source Coding), ECE678 (Radar Engineering) and ECE645 (Detection and Estimation Theory).

In 2011, Professor Bell was elected to the rank of Fellow of the IEEE "for contributions to signal design and processing in radar and communication systems."

Prof. Bell's avocations include guitar, mathematics, and cycling.