Catherine Riihimaki

Associate Director, Science Education
Email Address:
Office Location: 
Peter B. Lewis Library, Room 234

Ph.D. Earth Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2003
B.A. Geosciences and Mathematics, Williams College, 1998

Dr. Riihimaki supports science education initiatives at the Council.  Her disciplinary expertise rests in the fields of environmental science, geoscience, and geographic information systems.

Geoscience interests focus on how physical landscapes change through time, particularly in the context of climate change. Catherine has worked 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 have included investigations of 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. She has collaborate with colleagues across disciplinary boundaries by serving as the project expert in GIS.

At the Council on Science and Technology, her current projects include:

  • Science and Engineering Education Initiative (SEEI): Focus on courses in ENV, GEO, and WWS. Working with faculty, Catherine helped revised the focus of the course to enable students from many different disciplines to become more engaged and informed environmental citizens. She has also taught two freshman seminars, one on mapping and the other on water issues, and is the lead lab instructor for ENV201.
  • Education Research: Catherine is a part of three ongoing research projects through CST, all involving mixed methods of survey data combined with qualitative interviews and classroom observations. Near the end of a two-year project investigating the experience of students in PHY103/104, which began to incorporate parts of the ISLE ( curriculum in fall 2013. She is in the midst of a multi-year study of Freshman Scholars Institute students and faculty, exploring how this program impacts their Princeton experiences from the summer before their freshman year through their sophomore year. Finally, she is at the onset of a study looking at the experiences of Princeton faculty teaching STEM in the 21st century.