Community Spotlight: Q&A with Alida Cantor

Alida Cantor is inspired by her 17-month-old daughter. 1. Who are you? 
Alida Cantor, assistant professor of Geography and a new Faculty Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. 
2. What are you working on right now?
My work focuses on water law and politics. Right now I'm planning a new research project looking at changing relationships between water politics and land use changes in Hawai'i. The project focuses on Maui, where historically a lot of water has been used to grow sugar cane. Currently, sugar production is in decline, but the sugar companies are turning into "water companies" that want to put the water toward development. Native Hawaiian groups and environmentalists argue that the water historically used by sugar companies should be returned to native and environmental uses and are using legal strategies to accomplish their goals. I want to learn more about how this land use change is opening up new opportunities for contesting a historically unjust water rights system. 

3. What’s the one thing you want the sustainability community to know about the work you’re doing?
As a new faculty at PSU, I am really looking forward to learning more about my new home state of Oregon. In terms of my research, I'm looking forward to learning more about local and regional water issues and conflicts.  I'm also excited to meet students and faculty on campus with shared interests. So, I'd say I want the sustainability community to know that my door is open. 

4. What, to you, is the most exciting aspect of the research and teaching you do? 
I love facilitating student engagement in sustainability related issues. I try to encourage my students to engage beyond the classroom, whether it's attending conferences or campus events or just following the news. If a student in my class gets excited about something they read about or hear about in class and wants to learn more about the issue, or better yet, do something about it, that's a success.

5. Who is one person that inspires you to do the work that you do? 
It's a bit of a cliche, but my 17-month-old daughter. I want her to have a healthy planet and a more just society to live in. That isn't something I can do alone, of course, but I want to be a part of the very big team of people around the world who are working towards those goals in so many different ways.