Picture of PELAEZ


Associate Professor
LILY G-224
Phone: 765-496-3261

Nancy Pelaez is a physiologist by training and former secondary school biology and chemistry teacher who received tenure and promotion to associate professor based on biology education research publications and leadership. She received a B.S. in Biology summa cum laude and was awarded the Biology Prize from Newcomb College of Tulane University, a k-12 California single subject teaching credential in both Life Science and Physical Science from Mills College, and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics with a research focus on vascular muscle physiology from Indiana University School of Medicine with support from a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowship.  Since joining the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue in 2007, Pelaez has published research articles in the journals Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, BioScience, CBE Life Sciences Education, Advances in Physiology Education, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, Journal of Biological Education, and The American Biology Teacher. 

Pelaez is Principal Investigator with Co-PIs Stephanie Gardner, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, and Trevor Anderson, Associate Professor of Chemical Education and Biochemistry, on the NSF-funded RCN-UBE project #1346567 for bringing together a network of educational specialists (who study how students learn) and scientists (who are active researchers) to develop assessment tools that directly measure what students learn about experimentation in biology: Advancing Competencies in Experimentation - Biology (ACE-Bio) Network (Award Amount:$500,000). Collaboratively, these two groups are developing common learning standards about the concepts underlying an experiment and the nature of representations students should apply in reasoning about experiments and visualizing data. This community is also evaluating existing assessments and creating new assessments based on the standards to reveal areas of student difficulties, leading to new instructional and mentoring approaches targeting those areas.

As an instructor, for the past 15 years Pelaez has taught introductory biology, evolutionary biology, and physiology lab and lecture courses. In terms of elected positions, Pelaez is Convener of Purdue’s Biology Education Area, was on Purdue’s Teacher Education Council Executive Committee in 2013-2014, she served as Purdue’s College of Science Faculty Council Chair from 2012-2013, the American Physiological Society Teaching Section Physiologists in Industry Committee Representative (2010-2013), and has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) since 2015.

Pelaez served as Discussant for the topic, Assessing the Impact of Scientific Visualization, at the Visualization in Science & Education Gordon Conference in 2015. With Charles W. (Andy) Anderson and Diane Ebert-­May from Michigan State University, Pelaez facilitated working groups and was a contributing author in charge of all “Assessment of Student Learning” components for the AAAS 2011 Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education report. Given that role, she has been called upon as an external evaluator to provide feedback on curriculum innovation or faculty development projects focused on transforming biology, ecology, or physiology education.  Pelaez has presented seminars and workshops in Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Portugal, and South Africa, and has hosted academic visitors from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, and Turkey as well as domestic scholars from other institutions. Pelaez has served as an Associate Editor of the leading physiology education journal, Advances in Physiology Education since 2016 while also serving since 2011 as an Editorial Board Member of the leading biology education journal, CBE ­ Life Sciences Education.


Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, Physiology and Biophysics, Ph.D. (minor areas in Science Education and Biochemistry) Thesis: Altered arterial muscle contractility and estrogen protection in spontaneous hypertension

Mills College, Oakland, CA, Science Education: Physical Sciences and Life Sciences K-12 Single Subject Science Teaching Credential

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, summa cum laude, Honors in Biology, Newcomb College Biology Prize: Analysis and comparison of three deciduous forests, B.S. summa cum laude with Honors in Biology.

Professional Faculty Research

(Physiology) Vascular smooth muscle physiology and signal transduction, physiology and evolution, physiology education.


2016 Arthur C. Guyton Educator of the Year Award, the American Physiological Society and Elsevier

2015 Fulbright Scholar: Fulbright Visiting Professor, Biotechnology, Campus Vienna Biocenter, University of Applied Sciences, FH Campus Wien, Vienna, Austria

2014 Howard Barrows Education Award, McMaster University

LSAMP INDIANA Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Faculty Mentor of the Year Award 2014

2011 Purdue Seed For Success Bronze Acorn Award for garnering $1 Million or more in research grants

Outstanding Faculty Mentor: Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) 2010

2005 Teaching Career Enhancement Award of the American Physiological Society

2002 M. Irene Ferrer Award for Gender-Specific Medicine

2002 American Physiological Society Teaching of Physiology Section Recognition Award for Meritorious Research by a Young Investigator

2001 M. Irene Ferrer Award for Gender-Specific Medicine

2001 American Physiological Society Teaching of Physiology Section Recognition Award for Meritorious Research by a Young Investigator

2001 Robert and Louise Lee Collaborative Teaching Award

1998 L.K. Knoebel Predoctoral Award in Physiology and Biophysics

1993 APS High School Teacher Summer Research Award

1989 Betty Rosenberg award for excellence in student teaching

1989 Assn. of Western Universities Distinguished High School Teacher Award

1978 Fulbright Award

1976 Phi Beta Kappa

1976 Tulane University Biology Prize


RCN-UBE: Assessment of Competence in Experimental Design in Biology (ACED-Bio) Network NSF/BIO Award Number: 1346567, Principal Investigator http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1346567

NSF Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Phase I: Teaching Ethical, Experimental, and Quantitative (TEEQ) Biology through Problem-Based Writing with Peer Review NSF DUE 0837229.http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0837229

NSDL BiosciEdNet (BEN) Pathway for Video and Image Data Access (VIDA) for Science Inquiry During Teacher Preparation Subcontract award from American Association For Advancement Science, NSF DUE-0532797.

Other Activities

Project Evaluator, Faculty Developer Network for Undergraduate Biology Education, NSF FDN-UBE #1346570 (2015-2019).

Project Evaluator, Toads, Roads, and Nodes: Collaborative Course-Based Research on the Landscape Ecology of Amphibian Populations, NSF DUE #1140475 (2012-2014)

External Evaluator, Diagnostic Question Clusters (DQC) questions to diagnose common student misconceptions in biology, NSF DUE #0920186 (2010-2013)

High School Science Laboratories: Role and Vision Committee Member, National Research Council Board on Science Education. 2004-2005.

Director of local organizing committee for the Teaching Workshop at the 35th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) in Pali Mountain, CA, April 7-10, 2005.

Participant at the Teaching Workshop for the 36th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) in Kyoto, Japan, July 28-Aug 2, 2009.

Guest Co-Editor for the special issue of CBE-Life Sciences Education (LSE) (volume 12 (2), 2013) focused on teaching and learning at the intersection of biology and physics.

Contributing Author and "Assessing Student Learning" working group leader, AAAS report, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action, 2009-2010.

Professional Faculty Research

(Physiology) Vascular smooth muscle physiology and signal transduction, physiology and evolution, physiology education.

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