Honors student’s research laid a foundation for the future

July 12, 2023

La Salle University prepares all of its students for wherever life takes them. 

For Explorers enrolled in the Honors Program, a unique academic experience awaits. First-year students are enrolled in the Honors Triple which is a group of linked courses, including literature, history, and philosophy, and taken with a cohort of students and professors over the course of two semesters. 

Honors students continue to work together through the program, taking classes and living together in the residence halls, making the experience that much more of a tight-knit community.  

At the end of the program, students present their Honors project to showcase an articulate perspective on a subject of their choice. 

One Honors students shared how the program is helping him find success in his chosen career path.  

Luke Szyszkiewicz, ’24, biology and environmental science major  

Luke Szyszkiewicz, ’24

Szyszkiewicz’s interest in urban environments and ecosystems, as well as the intersection between the life sciences and the social sciences, led him to an interesting research opportunity last semester. 

With biology professor Jeffrey Brown, Ph.D., the pair’s work will culminate in a presentation at the International Urban Wildlife Conference in Washington D.C. this month.  

Szyszkiewicz’s research has been focused on redlining and gentrification and their respective effects on biodiversity in Philadelphia, specifically whether increased rates of gentrification also lead to increased rates of biodiversity. 

His topic gave Szyszkiewicz the opportunity to utilize the city of Philadelphia as a tool in his learning, research, and professional experience. As background to the scientific components of his research, he learned about the history of redlining in Philadelphia and the different ways that gentrification influences socioeconomics and sociodemographic.  

Through his research, Szyszkiewicz realized the connectedness of human characteristics on the nature surrounding it. He said he is excited to present his research at the Urban Wildlife Conference because it will provide him with the opportunity to share his findings with a larger community of scientists and urban planners. This invaluable experience will allow Szyszkiewicz to make connections and network with students and professors who share similar interests.  

Szyszkiewicz’s research is related to his future endeavors in the Honors Program as well as beyond La Salle. The work he did this past semester will serve as the basis for his Honors Project in his senior year.  

Additionally, this research opportunity, while advancing his education and professional experience, has also inspired Szyszkiewicz’s interest for fields of work beyond La Salle.  

“Urban ecosystems are all incredibly diverse, both in their community makeup and through their human-built infrastructure. These areas of potential future research and work are incredibly interesting to me,” he said.