An interdisciplinary group of faculty and student scholars at the Cal State San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus is conducting a community-based research project focusing on local perspectives of the Salton Sea.

Spanning regions in both Riverside and Imperial Counties, the Salton Sea impacts a large geographical region and many local communities. Numerous environmental issues have been raised by the increasing evaporation of the Sea, including air quality, human health impacts and impacts on biodiversity and wildlife.

Working with the Salton Sea Authority, and with funding from CSUSB’s Office of Community Engagement and The Project for Environmental Awareness, Communication, and Education (PEACE) at PDC, the research team is conducting qualitative interviews with local residents to uncover prominent cultural narratives concerning the Salton Sea and its impact.

The team will present its findings to the Salton Sea Authority and other local agencies and community groups.

Palm Desert Campus faculty members Michael Karp, history, and Michael Salvador, communication studies, are leading the team of PDC student environmental research fellows, which consists of communication studies majors Johnny Arredondo, Alexis Hass, Nadine Jolly and Andrea Rodriguez, as well as psychology major Dolores Vega. Additional students in the Environmental Communication class at PDC are also participating in the research project.

Karp and Salvador say that the project came about through their shared interest in research on the environment. Karp had also recently embarked on a new research project exploring the environmental history of the Colorado Desert, which includes the Salton Sea. And when the director of the Salton Sea Authority reached out to Salvador, the two faculty members decided to work together on a project with them.                                                                         

“We are grateful for the support of CSUSB’s Office of Community Engagement and PEACE at PDC,” said Salvador. “All of the funding is going directly to our Environmental Research Fellows, allowing us to engage PDC undergraduate students in meaningful scholarly research, which is a high-impact practice.”

“This project demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of the Palm Desert Campus and the collaboration of students and faculty in both history and communication studies to address contemporary environmental issues,” said Karp.

This is one of the first formal research projects that PDC students have been involved with and it is impacting their lives in a variety of ways.

“Working on this project has allowed me to use my skills to make an impact in the place I call home,” said Arredondo. “I’m extremely fortunate to work with a bright group of people who believe in a better environment for all.”

“Although this is an environmental project, it encompasses so much more,” said Vega. “It’s about history, culture and the voices of underrepresented communities looking to be heard.”

“Being selected as a research fellow means so much to me,” said Hass. “I am able to work hand in hand with community members and peers to share what a special place the Salton Sea really is and all it represents.”

For more information about the research project, contact Michael Karp at or Michael Salvador at

The CSUSB Palm Desert Campus offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a doctorate in educational leadership, and teaching credentials and certificates. With more than 1,600 students, it is the Coachella Valley’s four-year public university and plays a vital role in educating and training the region’s growing population.

For more information about the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus, contact Mike Singer in the Office of Strategic Communication at or (760) 341-2883, ext. 78107, or visit the PDC website at