Hiram College
Cara Constance, Ph.D. Photo

Cara Constance, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology, Chair

B.A., Hiram College
Ph.D., University of Virginia (Charlottesville)

205B Colton Hall


  • Hiram College (Biology), B.A.
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville) (Biology), Ph.D.
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville) (Biology), Post Doctoral Fellow

Professional Appointments

  • Hiram College: Associate Professor of Biology 2012-present
  • Hiram College: Assistant Professor of Biology 2008 – 2012
  • College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA): Assistant Professor of Biology 2003 – 2008
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville): Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor (Biology) 2001 – 2003

Courses Taught

  • BIMD 280: Exploration of Healthcare professions (online)
  • Biology 230: Molecular and Cellular Biology (lecture and lab)
  • Biology 255: FrogWatch USA (service-learning course)
  • Biology 265/266: Human Genetics (lecture and lab)
  • Biology 280: Seminar – Topics in Medical Research
  • Biology 380: Advanced Molecular Biology
  • FRCL 118: Freshman colloquium, “Ethical and Social Responsibility in the Age of Genomics”
  • FRCL 100/ FSEM 103: Freshman colloquium/Freshman Seminar, “The Promise of Stem Cells”
  • INTD 280: Turning Japanese
  • INTD 288: Japan: Urbanization and Innovation
  • INTD 381: The Science and Culture of Sleep
  • STDV 651: Sophomore Development
  • STDV 280: “So you wanna be a doctor”

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of biological rhythms. Virtually all organisms have adapted to life on earth by having an internal timer that controls rhythmic behavioral, biochemical, and physiological processes, and confers a circadian period of about a day. My primary research interest is to determine how the molecules that comprise the central clock mechanism ultimately lead to regulation of rhythmic behaviors.

The primary model system that I use in my research is the frog, Xenopus laevis. To address my research questions, I employ molecular genetic and bioinformatics techniques (database searches, sequence analysis, PCR, mutagenesis, subcloning, Northern blot analysis, in situ hybridization), Xenopus transgenesis (introduction of transgenes into animals; animal husbandry; genotyping) and I use a behavioral assay in order to monitor the effects of the transgenes that are introduced in the animal on circadian locomotor activity of tadpoles and adult animals. These techniques include a broad spectrum of approaches, from the study of molecules to analysis of the whole organism, and may be of interest to students who have an interest in cell biology, genetics, biochemistry and/or cellular and molecular neurobiology.

In addition to laboratory research, I also combine field work with molecular biology techniques.  My field projects include testing for ranavirus (Rv) and chytridiomycosis (Bd) infection of amphibians at the JHB Field Station, and behavioral monitoring of native species of tadpoles and frogs collected at wetland sites in order to compare aquatic and terrestrial amphibians’ circadian behavior throughout all of their life stages.

As a FrogWatch USA Chapter coordinator, I co-instruct FrogWatch USA training sessions at the JHB Field Station.  FrogWatch USA surveys help to evaluate the long-term health of the habitats by monitoring the amphibian populations.

Students who are potentially interested in pursuing a research project in my laboratory may contact me to learn more about my research.

Research Publications (Manuscripts and Abstracts)

  • Loyola, CE*, Mortimer, EN*, Myer, AM*, and Constance, Cara M. Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio 44234. Determining the developmental stage of onset of behavioral circadian rhythms in Hyla versicolor (Gray treefrog) and Xenopus laevis. Poster abstract from Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) poster symposium at the Society for Neuroscience’s 44th annual meeting, Neuroscience 2014, Washington, DC, Nov. 17, 2014.
  • Hirsch, N., Constance, C.M., Maxson, J., and Marques, C.M. Bridging the Gap Between Undergraduate Laboratory Coursework and Independent Research: Developmental Genetics of Hindbrain Development in Xenopus tropicalis.  Program No. 23.01SA.  2013 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. SanDiego, CA: Society for Neuroscience, 2013. Online.
  • Dillon, Ashley M.* and Constance, Cara M.   Monitoring behavioral rhythms in frog and toad species at the James H. Barrow Field Station.  Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio 44234.   Poster abstract from Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) poster symposium at the Society for Neuroscience’s 43rd annual meeting, Neuroscience 2013, San Diego, CA,  Nov. 11, 2013.
  • Raina, G.K*., J.M. Clark, J.E. Metzinger, and C.M. Constance. “A new citizen science initiative at Hiram College:  FrogWatch USA frog and toad monitoring program.” Poster Presentation at the Ohio Natural History Conference, Columbus, Ohio (Feb. 2013) and Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana (March 2013).
  • Lois M. Banta, Erica J. Crespi, Ross H. Nehm, Jodi A. Schwarz, Susan Singer,  Cathryn A. Manduca, Eliot C. Bush, Elizabeth Collins, Cara M. Constance, Derek Dean, David Esteban, Sean Fox, John McDaris, Carol Ann Paul, Ginny Quinan, Kathleen M. Raley-Susman, Marc L. Smith, Christopher Wallace, Ginger Withers and Lynn Caporale. (2012). Integrating genomics research throughout the undergraduate curriculum: A collection of inquiry-based genomics lab modules. Cell Biology Education- Life Sciences Education. 11(3): 203-208.
  • Kudo T, Loh DH, Kuljis D, Constance C, Colwell CS. (2011). Fast delayed rectifier potassium current: critical for input and output of the circadian system.  J Neurosci. Feb 23;31(8):2746-55.
  • Kim SM, Power A, Brown TM, Constance CM, Coon SL, Nishimura T, Hirai H, Cai T, Eisner C, Weaver DR, Piggins HD, Klein DC, Schnermann J, Notkins AL.(2009). Deletion of the secretory vesicle proteins IA-2 and IA-b disrupts circadian rhythms of cardiovascular and physical activity. FASEB J. Sep;23(9):3226-32. Etchegaray JP, Machida KK, Noton E, Constance CM, Dallmann R, Di Napoli MN*, Debruyne JP, Lambert CM, Yu EA, Reppert SM, Weaver DR. (2009). Casein kinase 1 delta regulates the pace of the mammalian circadian clock. Mol Cell Biol. Jul;29(14):3853-66.
  • Constance, C.M., Fan J-Y, Preuss F., Green C.B., Price J.L. (2005) The circadian clock-containing photoreceptor cells in Xenopus laevis express several isoforms of casein kinase I. Brain Res. Mol. Brain Res. May 20;136(1-2):199-211.
  • Constance, C.M., Green, C.B., Tei, H., and Block, G.D. (2002) Bulla gouldiana period Exhibits Unique Regulation at the mRNA and Protein Levels. J Biol. Rhythms 17 (5) 413-427.
  • Constance, C.M., Morgan IV, J. I.*, and Umek, R.M. (1996) C/EBP alpha Regulation of the Growth-Arrest-Associated Gene gadd45. Mol. Cell Biol. 16, 3878-3883
  • Shugart, E.C., Levenson, A.S., Constance, C.M., and Umek, R.M. (1995) Differential Expression of gas and gadd Genes at Distinct Growth Arrest Points during Adipocyte Development.  Cell Growth and Differentiation 6, 1541-1547.

*undergraduate co-authors