Research Assistants and Interns - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Research Assistants and Interns

Research assistants and interns play an important role at MPC, offering essential support for our projects, programs, and staff. They conduct original research, write blog posts and case studies, organize community meetings, perform GIS and quantitative analysis, and carry out a range of other work that are vital to the organization's success.

Summer 2023 Cohort 

Cal Garrett (they/them)

Cal Garrett is a Research Assistant for Equitable Infrastructure and has conducted a study of water infrastructure financing approaches across all 50 states. Cal’s findings will support MPC’s advocacy to ensure the equitable distribution of funds for upgrading drinking water infrastructure, including lead service lines, in Illinois. 

Cal is also a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where they study how the culture of science and expertise can be exclusionary, contributing to inequalities in health and illness. Their work ranges from collaborative interview projects on the policy response to COVID-19 in Chicago to a multi-sited study of how various communities do (or do not) derive health benefits from nature preserves. Cal earned their MA in Sociology with a certificate in Gender and Women Studies from UIC in 2019. Their work has been published in several academic journals and open access sources, linked to their professional website.

Cal also has a BA in Sociology and Gender and Women Studies from Seattle University and is originally from the Pacific NW. Currently, they live in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago and volunteer to maintain sand dunes along Lake Michigan when they’re not writing. Learn more about Cal here and here.


Emma Boczek (she/her)

Emma Boczek is a researcher and policy analyst supporting MPC’s Zoning Assessment as a Research Assistant. She came to policy research after working at a legal aid organization that represents Chicago tenants facing eviction. Since then, she has used her skills in research, writing, and project management to investigate ways to create more equitable cities and systems in housing, workforce, and beyond.

Emma has a background implementing partnership-based housing research at the Inclusive Economy Lab at the University of Chicago (UIC). There, she was a Project Manager working with government agencies, community organizations, and Chicago residents to produce rigorous research on strategies to promote housing stability. She has also worked in client services for a public defender’s office, created narrative data visualizations for a civic tech start-up, researched workforce development in the infrastructure sector, and taught in a public school in southern Chile. She holds a BA from UIC. Learn more about her here.


This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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