Department of Human Evolutionary Biology Harvard University 11 Divinity Ave Cambridge, MA 02138 Email: ercastil [at] fas.harvard.edu Phone: (617) 863-7427
Fax: (617) 496-8041
I am a biomechanist and evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, where I'm currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. I'm broadly interested in the evolution of the human body and evolutionary perspectives on health. My current research focuses on several topics, but I'm primarily engaged in studying the origins of hominin lumbar lordosis (curvature of the lower back), asking three main questions:
1. From an evolutionary and biomechanical perspective, why is the lower spine curved?
2. What factors contribute to variations in lumbar lordosis, particularly during development?
3. What are the biomechanical benefits and costs of differing degrees of lumbar curvature?
To answer these questions, I examine how the lower back acts as a viscoelastic system, showing both spring and damping characteristics in response to loading when we walk, run, and carry loads. Using morphometrics, modeling, and experimental methods, my research seeks to predict and test the effects of variations in lumbar curvature on loading behavior in vivo with the ultimate goal of understanding the epidemiology and natural history of spinal pathologies.