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About Dr. Thomas Pirtle



Neurophysiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology

Personal Statement

Dr. Thomas Pirtle has been with The College of Idaho since 2014.  As an Assistant Professor of Biology at The College of Idaho, he regularly teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Pathobiology, Developmental Biology, and Health Science Seminar.  Dr. Pirtle also teaches Regional Anatomy and Histology as part of the Physician Assistant Program in partnership with Idaho State University. 

Dr. Pirtle’s diverse research program at The College of Idaho focuses on comparative physiology, developmental biology, and neuroethology.  His most current research, in collaboration with Dr. Heggland’s lab, uses the developing chick embryo as a model to identify the possible harmful effects of electronic cigarette chemical flavorings on bone development.  Other research interests include comparative cardiac physiology using the freshwater crustacean, Daphnia magna and control of locomotor behavior in the marine mollusk, Clione limancina. The most recently published work on Daphnia magna in 2018 involved three College of Idaho undergraduate students who co-authored the paper.

Dr. Pirtle’s goal as a professor and mentor of College of Idaho students is to his students to become successful professionals in healthcare and biology.  Dr. Pirtle is proud of the accomplishments of many College of Idaho students who have gained acceptance to professional schools in medical, physician assistant, dental, physical therapy, and biology graduate programs.  In the classroom, Dr. Pirtle’s problems-based approach to curriculum fosters critical thinking and cultivates collaboration among students to help them become proficient, skilled, and compassionate healthcare providers. 

Dr. Pirtle enjoys teaching at The College of Idaho where both faculty and students work together as a community of learners.  Dr. Pirtle is proud to be a Yote!

Professional Experience

Dr. Pirtle taught at Grand Canyon University and Abilene Christian University before coming to The College of Idaho.  He has fifteen years of professional teaching experience teaching a variety of classes that include anatomy and physiology, general biology for both biology majors and non-majors, pathobiology, general and medical physiology, histology, developmental biology, microbiology, seminars in biology and health science.


  • Ph.D. Biology, Arizona State University, 2003
  • M.S. Biology, Abilene Christian University, 1992
  • B.S. Biology, Abilene Christian University, 1990


Pirtle, T.J., Carr, T.L., Khurana, T., and Meeker, G. ZD7288 and mibefradil inhibit the myogenic heartbeat in Daphnia magna indicating its dependency on HCN and T-type calcium ion channels. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol.  2018.  222:  36-42.
Pirtle, T.J., Willingham, K. and Satterlie, R.A.  A hyperpolarization-activated inward current alters swim frequency of the pteropod mollusk Clione limacina. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2010. 157(4): 319-27.
Pirtle, T.J. and Satterlie, R.A.  The role of postinhibitory rebound in the locomotor central-pattern generator of Clione limacina. Integr. Comp. Biol. 2007. 47: 451-456.
Pirtle, T.J. and Satterlie, R.A. The contribution of the pleural type 12 interneuron to swim acceleration in Clione limacinaInvert. Neurosci. 2006.  6: 161-168.
Pirtle, T. J. and Satterlie, R.A. Cellular mechanisms underlying swim acceleration in the pteropod mollusk Clione limacina. Integr. Comp. Biol. 2004. 44: 37-46.
Satterlie, R.A., Norekian, T.P., and Pirtle, T.J. Serotonin-induced spike narrowing in a locomotor pattern generator permits increases in cycle frequency during accelerations. J. Neurophysiology.  2000. 83(4): 2163-2170.
Moroz, L.L., Norekian, T.P., Pirtle, T.J., Robertson, K.J., and Satterlie, R.A. Distribution of NADPH-diaphorase reactivity and effects of nitric oxide on feeding and locomotory circuitry in the pteropod mollusc, Clione limacina. J. Comparative Neurology. 2000.  427: 274-284.