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Karl Zelik

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation


Mechanical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering (secondary)


Intellectual Neighborhoods

Research Focus

Biomechanics of legged locomotion, lower-limb prosthetics, assistive technology, dynamic walking principles, neural control, human-device interfaces, mobility, rehabilitation engineering

Current Projects

Biomechanics & Assistive Technology Laboratory
my.vanderbilt.edu/batlab 

Mission: We investigate fundamental mechanisms underlying legged locomotion and how these principles can translate to improvements in assistive technologies such as prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons. By developing devices that better interface with the human body, and tools that better quantify human movement performance, we strive to improve mobility and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and to enhance human capabilities beyond natural biological limits.

Approach: We perform experimental and computational research on human locomotion by combining techniques from engineering, biomechanics, bio-signal analysis and neural control. To study human movement we use state-of-the-art measurement equipment, including an infrared motion capture system, force-instrumented treadmill, portable respirometry system, ultrasound imaging and an electromyographic (muscle activity) measurement system. Research projects in our lab range from designing, building and testing assistive devices to developing new experimental approaches for assessing human mobility to performing computational simulations to better elucidate fundamental principles underlying locomotion. Our interdisciplinary research is performed in collaboration with both local and international engineering and clinical partners.

Selected Publications

Zelik, K. E. and Adamczyk, P. G. (2016) Invited Commentary: A unified perspective on ankle push-off in human walking. J Experimental Biology. 219.23 (2016): 3676-3683.

Zelik, K. E., Takahashi, K. Z. and Sawicki G. S. (2015). Six degree-of-freedom analysis of hip, knee, ankle and foot provides updated understanding of biomechanical work during human walking. J Experimental Biology. 218(6): 876-886. doi:10.1242/jeb.115451

Zelik, K. E., Huang, T. P., Adamczyk, P. G. and Kuo, A. D. (2014). The role of series ankle elasticity in bipedal walking. J Theoretical Biology. 346: 75-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2013.12.014

Zelik, K. E., Collins, S. H., Adamczyk, P. G., Segal A. D., Klute, G. K., Morgenroth, D. C., Hahn M. E., Orendurff, M. S., Czerniecki, J. M. and Kuo, A. D. (2011). Systematic variation of prosthetic foot spring affects center-of-mass mechanics and metabolic cost during walking. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 19(4): 411-419.

Zelik, K. E. and Kuo, A. D. (2010). Human walking isn’t all hard work: evidence of soft tissue contributions to energy dissipation and return. J Experimental Biology, 213(Pt 24): 4257-4264.

Link to Professor Zelik's Publications