Brian Dzwonkowski, Ph.D.

Brian Dzwonkowski, Ph.D.

Senior Marine Scientist II

Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama


Brian Dzwonkowski is an Assisstant Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of  South Alabama where he has been a faculty member since 2014.  Brian completed his Ph.D. at the University of Delaware and his undergraduate studies at The College of New Jersey. His research interests lie in coastal physical oceanography (things related to  the structure and flow of water, i.e. currents, tides, stratification) as well as how physical processes impact biogeochemical cycling and ecosytem function.  Brian is also an instructor for a graduate and undergraduate physical oceanography courses at DISL/USA.  

Download Dr. Brian Dzwonkowski's CV


2009 Ph.D., Marine Studies w/ concentration in Physical Oceanography, University of Delaware
2003 M.S., Marine Studies w/ concentration in Oceanographic Remote Sensing, University of Delaware
1999 B.A., Mathematics (with NJ teaching certification), The College of New Jersey

In the News:

Dzwonkowski et al. (2015), GoMRI - 06/14/2016 ( 

Dzwonkowski et al. (2017), ACER consortium - 6/19/2017 (

Research Interest

I am interested in physical processes that influence three-dimensional transport in the coastal ocean as well as how this transport impacts marine ecosystems.  

Circulation and transport processes on coastal shelves and in estuaries provide a pathway for mass property and material exchange, which can have a critical impact on the state of a marine system.  This is a challenging (but very interesting) region to study as a result of there being a broad scope of interacting forcing functions that operate on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales in conjunction with an irregular physical environment (i.e. bathymetry and coastal geography).  This results in complex flow fields.  As such, my research has focused on improving the understanding of the flow field and its associated response to forcing functions at a range of temporal and spatial scales.  

By examining estuarine and coastal circulation, I hope to provide a more complete understanding of the processes that dictate the origin, fate, and residence time of material in the coastal ocean.  Another aspect of my research involves linking these physical processes to biological aspects of marine system ecosystems.  As systems becoming more strongly influenced by anthropogenic impacts, identifying and understanding environmental controls over marine life cycles is essential to elucidating the inter-annual variability that characterizes biological systems.  

Through my research efforts, I have also developed a keen awareness of the need to acquire high resolution data on estuarine and coastal physical processes due to the importance of these regions’ ecosystems and their relatively sensitive nature.  As such, coastal ocean observing systems provide a critical tool in the efforts of understanding the variability in these systems by providing unprecedented temporal and spatial views of coastal currents and hydrographic conditions.  

The continued maintenance and expansion of these observing systems require both operational and scientific justification.  Thus, my research focuses on demonstrating new science based on the data provided from these observing systems.


Who We Are

Current Personnel


Steve Dykstra, Ph.D. student

Steve's research interests focus on estuarine and coastal processes that link fluvial and marine environments. Coastal regions with fresh water sources are complex environments due to the large density gradients and tidal-morphology relationships, that together lead to estuarine-terrestrial material transport and high ecological productivity. He is particularly interested in better understanding the impacts of river discharge on a range of physical processes including tidal propagation in estuaries, estuarine-shelf exchange, and river plume dynamics. The interaction between river discharge and these physically processes are critical to improving the understanding the coupled relationship between hydrodynamics and the associated geomorphology of a system.


Zhilong Liu

Former Post-Doc

Jeff Coogan, University of South Alabama

Undergraduate Mentor

Carolyn Garrity, University of Maine (Undergraduate capstone project, 2013)
Lu Han, University of Maine (Undergraduate independent study, Fall 2013)
Nathan Laspina, University of Maine (Undergraduate intern, Summer 2013)
Brett Stacy, Humboldt University (NSF REU, Summer 2012 at DISL)
Amanda Taylor, Coastal Carolina University (NSF REU, Summer 2010 at DISL)

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