Student Spotlight March 2023

    Claire Johnson is a master's student studying Urban Planning and is anticipated to graduate in the fall of 2023. She received her Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies at the University of Louisville, summa cum laude.


    Q: What brought you to the University of Louisville?

    A: In a previous role in local government, Dr. Matt Ruther reached out to me for information for a project that he and his class we were working on. I provided that to him and then bothered him for information about the Department of Urban and Public Affairs and Urban Planning. If it weren’t for him initially reaching out to me and his accessibility after to answer my questions, I doubt I would have ever continued my education.

    Q: What are the specific areas of your research?

    A: I work with Dr. Kelly Kinahan on eviction research for the Louisville Metro Addressing Street Homelessness Evaluation and with Dr. Kinahan and Dr. Lauren Heberle on the Metropolitan Housing Coalition Annual Report. I also recently worked with Metropolitan Housing Coalition and District 8 Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong on a report looking at housing instability for families in her district. This report was referenced in recent policy changes such as the Lead-Safe Louisville program and the Collegiate proposal to demolish affordable housing.  

    Q: What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

    A: I started school in an assistant position, and through my education, increased confidence and experience working on research. I then moved into a Capital Project Manager position. I am now serving in a Director position of a department of local government as I finish up my degree.

    Q: What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

    A: It is hard to go back to school as an adult that works full time and has commitments outside of work and school. Balancing a busy schedule is a difficult task and I am grateful to UofL and the Department of Urban and Public Affairs for working with my schedule to ensure that I am successful in completing my degree. Dr. Sumei Zhang has been especially understanding and helpful, I know that she wants to make sure that I make it to the finish line and that I learn a lot on my way there.

    Awards, honors, publications:

    • Anne Braden Institute Social Justice Research Award

    Fun Facts:

    If you weren't in graduate school, what would you be doing now? SLEEPING.