By Sandra Baltazar Martínez

Ten years ago, Alejandro Ruvalcaba was shackled in a Northern California jail wondering whether he would make it through his four-year sentence alive.

In 2013, the former gang member, who was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon at the age of 18, discovered he could take college courses from prison through a distance-learning program. So, he embarked on his college education from inside concrete walls.

Now, the 28-year-old is the co-founder of a new UCR student organization called the Underground Scholars Initiative, or USI. The group launched last fall, modeled after the one at UC…

World Series winner Joe Kelly unwinds during his return to UCR.

By Omar Shamout

UCR knows a thing or two about producing World Series-winning relief pitchers. Just ask the Highlanders’ head baseball coach, Troy Percival ’91, who won the World Series in 2002 as a closer for the Anaheim Angels. Joining Percival in that esteemed club last October was Joe Kelly, who played for the Highlanders from 2007–09 and won the World Series as a reliever with the Boston Red Sox last season. Kelly dominated the postseason, pitching 11 innings with 13 strikeouts. …

How UCR is helping save California’s largest body of water — and the people who live there.

T which sits about 100 miles east of San Diego and directly on top of the San Andreas fault, is shrinking, and the contaminants that had been hidden below the water are now spreading to nearby communities as toxic dust.

While Californians are acutely aware of the danger posed by the San Andreas and its promised “Big One,” the Salton Sea’s demise is a less well-known threat. Maybe that’s because the shock-and-awe destruction of a massive earthquake feels more tangible than the invisible menace of what one researcher calls “an unchecked, slow-moving environmental disaster.”

Or could it be because…


Salton Sea residents — and their stories — emerge before the oppressive summer heat.

By Susan Straight | Photos by Douglas McCulloh

For this Coachella Valley-raised legislator, what happens at the Salton Sea is personal.

By Tess Eyrich

Garcia speaks at the Salton Sea in November 2017.

Eduardo Garcia doesn’t sugarcoat his recollections of driving to UC Riverside for his first day as an incoming transfer student in 2001.

“I was so scared,” Garcia, 42, said. “I remember driving my Mitsubishi Eclipse full of clothes and other things my mom had packed and just being super nervous because I had never been away from home, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready.”

Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, Garcia, a Democrat, now serves the region as a member of the California State Assembly representing the 56th District, which includes cities and unincorporated…

Highlander Highlight

All eyes are on this freshman with big-league ties.

By Madeline Adamo

Haylee Kela usually knows the first question people are going to ask her when they meet — it’s in the way they stare.

“Where are you from?”

It doesn’t bother Haylee, who is half Hawaiian and half Portuguese, and she’ll usually ask what their question is with a knowing sparkle in her eye.

“People are always so surprised,” after they learn of her unique heritage, Haylee said.

They might also be surprised to learn that Haylee is the starting center fielder for the UCR softball team — a rare feat for a freshman. …


How the Salton Sea’s toxic dust is poisoning the community.

By Iqbal Pittalwala


Solving one of California’s most pressing environmental crises will involve rethinking how resources are managed across the southwest.

By Tess Eyrich


At the bottom of the Salton Sea sits an ecosystem run amok.

By Sarah Nightingale


An epic tale of man versus nature in the harsh California desert.

By John Warren

UC Riverside

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