Nancy Pruitt

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Nancy Pruitt

Professor of Biology, Emerita

Department/Office Information



My goals in the classroom and laboratory are to guide students to self-learning. The best way to learn is to do, so my courses are designed to maximize the doing, whether it be problem solving, designing experiments in the laboratory, or investigating ideas in the literature of biology. The courses I teach include Introductory Biology, Cell Biology, Human Physiology, Comparative Physiology, a context-based introductory course for non-majors on the topic of extreme biology, and a research course on animal adaptations to the environment.

Introductory Biology is a critical course in the curriculum of early science students. Traditional courses at the introductory level have focused on surveys of life on Earth or overviews of the entire field. One of my interests is in developing teaching materials for introductory students that focus on the theme of evolution -- the concept that informs all of biology -- and presents the field as a series of interconnected concepts.

With coauthors Larry Underwood and Bill Surver, I have written a textbook that remains true to these ideals. BioInquiry is published by John Wiley and Sons. The first edition came out in January of 2000, the second edition appeared in 2003, and the third edition was released in 2005.

In addition, I have written a problems workbook and student study guide that accompanies Cell Biology: A Molecular Approach by Gerald Karp. The fifth edition of that workbook appeared in 2007.

  • BA, Gettysburg College, 1975
  • MA, Wake Forest University, 1977
  • PhD, Arizona State University, 1983

Animal physiology, cellular biology, comparative physiology

Cellular and molecular adaptations in freeze tolerant animals, lipid metabolism, enzyme kinetics.

* = undergraduate author


  • Pruitt, N. L. and C. Lu.* 2008. Seasonal changes in phospholipid class and class-specific fatty acid composition associated with the onset of freeze tolerance in third instar larvae of Eurosta solidaginis. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 81(2): 226-234.
  • Pruitt, N. L., N. Moqueet,* and C. A. Shapiro.* 2007. Evidence for a novel cryoprotective protein from freeze-tolerant larvae of the goldenrod gall fly Eurosta solidaginis. Cryobiology 54:125-128.
  • Pruitt, N. L., J. R. Small and T. Woodin. 2006. Funding undergraduate neuroscience education: CCLI yesterday and today. J. Undergrad. Neurosci. Ed. 6(2): E14-E17.
  • Pruitt, N. L., M. Almodovar,* J. R. Small and T. Woodin. 2006. Biology 2010 and the course, curriculum and laboratory improvement program at NSF. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly 26(4): 185-188.
  • Cell Biology: Problems Workbook and Study Guide, Fifth Edition. (John Wiley and Sons, 2007)
  • BioInquiry: Making Connections in Biology, Third Edition (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2005)
  • Articles in Journal of Comparative Physiology, Journal of Experimental Zoology, Biochimica Biophysica Acta, Lipids, Molecular Physiology, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, American Journal of Physiology, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, Cryobiology, etc.


Project Direct, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant, 1996-2004; NSF UCCD Grant

I served as chair of the Department of Biology from 2008 to 2010. In 2010, I moved to the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty to serve a three-year term through June 2013.