Catherine Riihimaki

Princeton University


In addition to my education activities, I maintain an active Earth science research program. My research focuses on how physical landscapes change through time, particularly in the context of climate change. I work primarily in the US Rocky Mountains, with ongoing projects on Holocene environmental records from lake sediment in Glacier National Park, Montana, and coal-based evidence of river erosion in the Powder River basin, Wyoming and Montana. Additional projects look at the impacts of stream restoration on water quality in the Lake Tahoe basin, California and Nevada, and the role of long-term subsidence on the topography of the Hawaiian islands. Finally, I collaborate with colleagues across disciplinary boundaries by serving as the project expert in GIS.

Geology and Geography Research

Associate Director, Science Education

Council on Science and Technology

234 Lewis Library

Princeton, NJ 08544

car3 at princeton dot edu


Princeton Science and Engineering Education Initiative:

In September 2012, I began a new position at Princeton University as a science education specialist with the Princeton University Council on Science and Technology. Along with my CST colleagues, I work with faculty teaching introductory science courses aimed at students across the disciplinary spectrum. Our goal is to transform these courses based on the best teaching practices in the pedagogy literature, which emphasize that long-term student learning and engagement are best accomplished through interactive teaching techniques. My main focus is environmental science courses.

My teaching interests focus on introducing Earth science, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and data visualization to undergraduate students. My past courses have dealt with spatial and temporal patterns of natural physical processes, delving into the dynamics of river systems, climate change, glaciers, and mass movements (landslides, debris flows, etc.). We particularly focus on understanding the effects of humans on natural landscapes and how Earth history can provide us with a long-term perspective on human impacts. Because many of today's research questions are quantitative, each of my classes incorporate quantitative problem solving to expand the breadth of knowledge of students that are comfortable with math, and to help break down phobias of those that aren't. In each class, we also spend time developing skills to critique and produce data visualization through maps, graphs, and films.