Student Profile: Adrian Przezdziecki

By Katherine Sinyavin

Exploring how the geographical distribution of non-profit organizations corresponds with needs for those services in major cities is the question on which Adrian Przezdziecki, a rising fourth-year Public Policy major in the College, is working on this summer.

His particular responsibility in the project, led by Nicole Marwell, an associate professor in the School of Social Service Administration, is to collect data and organize it.

“Many social services and government funding that supports them is not directly paid to recipients. Rather, the social services are contracted to non-profits,” says Przezdziecki. By calling city departments and through internet research, he is collecting details on what contracts go where, tracking amounts and locations to support later analysis of the distribution to identify patterns and trends.

Przezdziecki became of the project through the Division of the Social Sciences’ Summer Institute on Social Research Methods (SISRM).

Alongside the research assistantship, Przezdziecki took Computing for Social Sciences, one of five classes offered through SISRM this summer. In that course, he learned how to collect, manipulate, and analyze data using R, a programming language. He has found R to be helpful for his data collection. Since a lot of the data he finds is not clean, meaning it includes data not relevant to the research project, he has to filter it and, in some cases, join it with other data. For example, he had to join two lists, one which contained data about all of the social service contracts across departments in a particular city and another with information from a database of all the non-profits of that city.

“This experience is helping me see what can be difficult about collecting data. You have to solve specific issues, such as contacting someone or searching in places where you did not expect to find the information you needed.”

This research project corresponds with Przezdziecki’s own interests, while introducing him to an area of social science research that he had not yet experienced.

“I’ve always been interested in how different cities work to fix problems and challenges, such as racism, segregation and discrimination, and whether there are any trends that can be uncovered about how cities address their problems.”

Prior to this project, Przezdziecki had done research for a class on environmental justice in Chicago, which involved hands-on data collection by interviewing people in the Chicago area. While that research was closely supervised, his current project gives him more freedom in solving problems and looking for sources independently. Przezdziecki says that this has allowed him to “push myself and work more critically.”

Because this research assistantship involves data collection that is not in-person, Przezdziecki says that “it works well in the virtual environment.” Even if the pandemic had not prevented the opportunity for being on campus, his RAship could have still been done remotely.

“What I’ve enjoyed most is knowing that this work isn’t simply for interest but that it will be implemented. You can potentially solve some issue or at least gain more understanding about an issue that greatly impacts people.”