• BS, Environmental Science, California Lutheran University. Project: Light/Dark adaptation of octopus retinal physiology
  • PhD, Earth Sciences, University of Southern California. Project: Benthic and pelagic marine ecology following the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction

Research Summary

I study marine ecological transitions over large spatial and temporal scales. Marine invertebrates influence habitat development and structure, as well as regional to global marine chemistry and climate feed-backs. I examine the sedimentary and fossil record of mass extinctions, critical transitions in biogeography, and small scale animal-environment interactions.


Kathleen Ritterbush grew up enjoying the great outdoors of California and the American West, and completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Science at California Lutheran University in 2006. She spent a 6-month hiatus sophomore year, as well as two post-graduate years, leading adventure science education field programs for non-profit organizations. She developed new curriculum and field programming for ship, island, and mountain-based education centers, and worked extensively with at-risk urban youth and with demographics underrepresented in science and engineering careers. Ritterbush earned a PhD at the University of Southern California (2008-2013), with adviser David Bottjer, and a NASA postdoctoral research position at University of Chicago with Michael Foote (U Chicago) and Arnie Miller (U Cincinnati). Ritterbush joined the faculty of the Geology and Geophysics Department at the University of Utah in July, 2015. She advises computing, experimental, and microscopy laboratories on campus, and leads extensive field work. Ritterbush' work is supported by the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation.