From an early age Uzi Rita loved animals and nature. In the early 1950s, he was one of the founders of the Association of Young Lovers of Animals, a group of young people who collected and identified animals and organized lectures on nature, and with other members of the association (among them Uriel Spriel and Eitan Tchernov) Was in charge of nature conservation on behalf of the regional council in the Judean Hills, even before the establishment of the Nature and Parks Authority.
Prof. Rita studied evolutionary processes in nature and focused on exposing the genetic variability of populations and the effect of environmental conditions on their genetic makeup. His doctoral dissertation, which dealt with populations of Hydras, was completed in 1969 at the University of Michigan. In 1971 he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Genetics at the Hebrew University, and later headed the department.
On Passover 1983, Rita accidentally entered in his car into the Geula neighborhood in Jerusalem. He was attacked by a barrage of stones, one stone hit his head and seriously wounded him. After a life-saving operation, Uzi managed to recover, and a few weeks later returned to work at the Hebrew University.
Some of his studies dealt with questions such as what characterizes individuals migrating from a particular population and establishing a new population, and whether it is possible to predict, based on genetic characteristics, which population will be able to establish itself in the new habitat.
Prof. Rita was one of the pioneers of the use of mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited and has been used in a wide variety of studies, among other things in a study that examined genetic differences among Jewish communities: Ashkenazi, North African, Asian and Balkan, Yemenites, and Ethiopian immigrants. It turned out that the genetic affinity between most of the communities is very high.