Darla M. Castelli, Northeastern University

Darla M. Castelli

PhD, FNAK

Professor; Department Chair

Physical Therapy, Human Movement, and Rehabilitation Sciences


Experience in Action

Darla Castelli, PhD, is Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, and Rehabilitation Sciences. A fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology and SHAPE America, she studies the effects of physical activity on cognitive and metabolic health in children and emerging adults.

Dr. Castelli has designed six federally-funded physical activity intervention programs to improve physical and cognitive health. Her research projects have received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education.

As a member of two Institute of Medicine Committees, Dr. Castelli helped generate new national guidelines for physical activity participation in schools. She has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed publications and five books. Dr. Castelli is currently the principal investigator of an NIH-funded study on obesity and metabolic risk factors among Latina mothers.

At Northeastern, Dr. Castelli directs the Behavioral and Cognitive Health Lab.

Research Keywords

Cognition, pedagogy, children, fNIRS

Select Publications

Kim, J., Lindqvist, A.K., & Castelli, D.M. (2024). Effects of gamification on physical activity participation and healthy eating among college students. Journal of American College Health.

Centeio, E. & Castelli, D.M. (2023). ACTIVE YOU: Teacher attributes and attitudes predicting physical activity promotion. Behavioral Sciences, 13(3), 210. doi.org/10.3390/bs13030210.

Koepp, A.E., Gershoff, E. T., Castelli, D.M., & Bryan, A. (2022). Preschoolers’ executive functions following indoor and outdoor free play. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 100182. doi: 10.1016/j.tine.2022.100182.

Fritz, C., Dylan, B., Lee, G., Julien, C., Burson, S., Castelli, D., Ramsey, C., Payton, J. (2022). Project moveSMART: When physical education meets computational thinking in elementary classrooms. Computer, 55(11), 29-39.

Select Awards

2023McCloy Research Award (career award) – Society of Health and Physical Educators — SHAPE
2022Textbook Longevity Award for Publication of Fitness for Life v7– McGuffey Academic — Authors Association
2022Fellow – North American Society for Health, Physical Education, Sport, and Dance
2020-2021Curriculum & Instruction Award (career teaching & curriculum writing) — SHAPE
2020Catherine Ennis Scholar (career award) — American Educational Research Association
2020Scholar Award (career award) — SHAPE America

Courses Taught

  • Research Methods in Applied Health
  • Cognition & Exercise Across the Lifespan
  • Pediatric Exercise Science
  • Physical Activity and Public Health