Dr. Laura Gruss


Assistant Professor
Office: 171 Center for the Sciences
Lab: 167 Center for the Sciences
Box 6931, Radford University
Radford, VA 24142
Tel: (540) 831-5143
E-mail: lgruss@radford.edu


Courses Taught:

BIOL 104  - Human Biology
BIOL 322 - Human Anatomy and Physiology for Pre-nursing Majors
BIOL 410 - Human Anatomy and Physiology for Science Majors I
BIOL 460 - Advanced Seminar in Biology: Human Evolution; Advanced Human Anatomy


I'm interested in human evolution, especially the evolution of human walking.  I take an experimental approach: by studying the biomechanics of walking in modern human subjects, using three-dimensional movement analysis software, videos, a pressure mat, and other tools, we can make some inferences about the way our ancestors moved.  In the past I have focused on how locomotor biomechanics may have changed over time as the body proportions of our ancestors changed during the last two million years (for example, early species of Homo were tall with narrow bodies and very long legs, whereas Neanderthals were short and wide with short limbs).  I have also done work evaluating the importance of infant carrying in human evolution.  My primary current research involves examining the relationship between structure of the lower limb bones and the stresses placed on the feet during walking in order to evaluate hypotheses about skeletal structure in Homo erectus, an early human ancestor. In addition, my lab has recently acquired a 3D suit (https://inertiallabs.com/static/pdf/Inertial_Labs_3DSuit_Datasheet_rev1.2_March_2015.pdf) for movement analysis, and I hope to use it to study the modifications that people make to their gait when carrying heavy loads atop their heads.

I work closely with undergraduate students in my research; my goal is to involve them in my own projects but also ultimately for them to come up with their own research questions that they can answer in my lab. I enjoy working with a variety of students on a variety of topics, and my research students have come from diverse majors on campus, including Biology, Anthropological Sciences, Nursing, and Dance.