Doctoral Students Create Salton Sea Blog

Blog is part of National Science Foundation program that promotes interdisciplinary engagement

Creators of the Salton Sea Sense blog at the Salton Sea.

Creators of the Salton Sea Sense blog at the Salton Sea.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — A group of University of California, Riverside graduate students has created a blog written in English and Spanish devoted to the Salton Sea to raise awareness to the scientific and policy questions affecting the body of water.

The blog, Salton Sea Sense, was created in conjunction with the National Science Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, which is designed to provide interdisciplinary training for scientists and engineers.

“The Salton Sea is truly an interdisciplinary issue,” said Drew Story, a graduate student in chemical and environmental engineering who is one of the creators of the blog. “We created an outlet that is a comprehensive source for knowledge, news and avenues for engagement regarding the sea.”

In 2012, UC Riverside received a five-year, $3 million IGERT grant from the National Science Foundation to allow graduate students from disparate disciplines to conduct doctoral-level research on water sustainability. The grant application was submitted by faculty members from UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and Bourns College of Engineering.

To date, the funds have been used to support over 25 graduate students, who receive fellowships for two years that are valued at $30,000 annually. While the students conduct traditional graduate-level research, they are also required to complete a separate project that focuses a problem without a single, technical solution, but instead requires consideration of a diversity of factors.

The current group of students created the blog, in part because it provides a channel for immediate dissemination of information. Past fellows wrote policy-oriented papers on green action plans created by cities and the endangered delta smelt that is the center of political and environmental battles in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The current group of nine students, who created Salton Sea Sense, includes environmental engineers, a chemist, environmental scientists and environmental toxicologists.

They launched the blog in April 2015 with the goal of elevating the public perception of the Salton Sea. The mission of the blog is to promote conversations that lead to an improved understanding of the ecological, economical, and cultural value of the Salton Sea.

“The goal is to make information about the Salton Sea accessible and important to community members, policymakers and industry leaders,” said Holly Mayton, a graduate student in chemical and environmental engineering who also helped create the blog.

The other creators and contributors to the blog include: Stacia Dudley, Miguel Garcia, Caroline Kim, Melissa Morgan, Katherine Muller, Samuel Patton, Jaben Richards, Todd Luce and Gustavo Mellior.

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