Kevin Karner

Kevin Karner

My name's Kevin Karner. I'm from Minnesota. I go to school at the University of Minnesota where I am a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning candidate.

What got you interested in sustainability?

I grew up by a lake as a kid and loved to hike around the woods near my parents’ house. My early awareness of sustainability, and planning, probably came from watching nearby woods be cleared out for new housing projects. In high school, I always gravitated towards macro-level subjects and in college I gained a much better understanding of the widespread implications of climate change. While my focus has drifted from subject to subject over the years, there’s been little doubt that whatever sub-discipline I landed on would have some footing in this push towards greater sustainability.

What sustainability, energy, and mobility issues are important to you?

Autonomous vehicles and shared ownership have the potential to radically change mobility in the US, if not the world. But while these shifts could make personal travel more energy efficient, they could also increase overall vehicle miles traveled and further incentivize unsustainable land use patterns. For the promises of these two developments to deliver on their sustainability potential, there needs to be widespread adoption of electric vehicles. So the question is, how can electric vehicle ownership realistically be made as available and attractive as gasoline powered vehicles in the short term? How can smart design and planning promote the expansion of renewably powered EV infrastructure?

What exciting projects/research are you working on now?

I’m currently working on an evaluation of Pinellas Sun Coast Transit Authority’s ground-breaking partnership with Uber to expand transit access, as well as two-year evaluation of TDM focused parking facilities in Minnesota.

What are your plans for the next five years?

I’d like to work in a larger city before eventually heading abroad for an extended period. My recent trip to East Asia was really an eye-opener in terms of some of the amazing work being done on Smart Cities outside of North America. While I'm able to, I'd love to pick up some work experience in a different policy context. 

What made you want to apply to SISE?

I’ve heard from multiple alumni about what a fantastic experience SISE was for them. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a couple weeks in Chicago than learning about vehicle technology with such a diverse group of likeminded students and professionals!

What are you most looking forward to doing in the city?

Chicago is actually very bike friendly for a major city. UIC is in a fairly central location and prime for checking out other neighborhoods or the lakeshore on two wheels. I look forward to a bit of weekend exploration with anyone who’s up for it!

Do you like cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?

In principle, but my allergies tend to keep me at a distance from most cats with hair.