News | U Hawaii MURP Student, John Canner, Studies Connections between Food Systems and Transportation

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by Dan Lamere, USC, Master of Urban Planning 2021

Meet John Canner, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning student concentrating in Land Use, Transportation, and Infrastructure Planning.


Canner’s path to studying transportation-related research topics has involved multidisciplinary degree programs, giving him a broad perspective on possible solutions to research problems. “The mobility aspect of transportation has always been fascinating, but now that I look at these transportation networks as systems, I am very interested in how we move people and goods more efficiently and equitably,” he shared.


“My prime focus is transportation, but land use, critical infrastructure, and disaster management are huge priorities to me. I like to look at research that involves all these themes because it’s easy to draw a lot of lines once you start looking,”  Canner explained. 


Canner has extensively researched developing a decision-making model for sea-level rise adaptation for vulnerable highway transportation infrastructure in Oahu, worked on community mapping of vulnerable transportation infrastructure in Hauula, and is pursuing a community-based project in the low-lying area of Kahauiki Village to set an evacuation plan in the event of a natural disaster. His team was awarded the 2019 Hawaii APA Student Project Award for a project titled “Finding Our Way Home: How Can Our Community Address Homelessness?”



Canner’s interest in transportation has been shaped by several personal and academic experiences. After receiving an Associate of Arts degree in Finance from the University of Central Florida, he relocated to Hawaii, where he worked as a lifeguard at Turtle Bay and as an open ocean kayak guide on the North Shore of Oahu and donated his free time to local nonprofits.  Through these activities, he became aware of the Bachelor’s degree program in Sustainable Community Food Systems from the University of Hawaii West Oahu (UHWO), which he pursued.  During his time at UHWO, he held internships at the Center for Food Safety and the Reppuns Kalo Farm in Waiahole, Hawaii. 


While studying food systems, Canner began to see the connection between agriculture and transportation systems and decided to further his studies with a graduate-level degree in urban planning. “I have always been fascinated with transportation - moving people and products. Agriculture plays such an important role in transportation,” he continued, “and after learning about how planners interact with land use and transportation, I knew it was the career for me. Transportation shapes people’s lives, both directly and indirectly, and I aspire to be involved in public projects that make a difference in humanity.” In the long run, Canner hopes to use his academic and research experience to eventually work as a transportation planner at a public agency or a planning firm.


About the Author:

Dan Lamere is a second-year Master of Urban Planning student at the USC Price School of Public Policy. He works as a staff writer and project coordinator for the METRANS student team.