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.


  • 2021

    Coogan*, J., B. Dzwonkowski, J. Lehrter, K. Park and R. Collini. Observations of dissolved oxygen and physical drivers in a shallow highly stratified estuary, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.

  • Gadeken, K., W. Clemo, K.M. Dorgan, M. Fung, W. Ballintine, A. Hagemayer, S. Dykstra*and B. Dzwonkowski . Transport of biodeposits and benthic footprint around an oyster farm, Damariscotta Estuary, Maine. PeerJ.

  • 2020

    Dykstra*, S.L. and B. Dzwonkowski. The propagation of fluvial flood waves through a backwater-estuarine environment. Water Resources Research. 56(2).

  • Dzwonkowski, B., J. Coogan, S. Fournier, G. Lockridge, K. Park and T. Lee. Compounding impact of severe weather events fuels marine heatwave in the coastal ocean. Nature Communications. 11(1) 1-10. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18339-2

  • Axler, K.E., S. Sponaugle, C. Briseño-Avena, F. Hernandez, S. Warner, B. Dzwonkowski, S. Dykstra* and R. Cowen. Variability in fine-scale distributions and predator-prey relationships of larval fishes during a high discharge event in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 650 37-61. doi:

  • Cole, S.M., K.M. Dorgan, W. Walton, B. Dzwonkowski and J. Coogan*. Seasonal and spatial patterns of mudblister worm Polydora websteri infestation of farmed oysters in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Aquaculture Environment Interactions. 12, 297-314.

  • Greer, A.T., A.D. Boyette, M.K. Cambazoglu, V.J. Cruz, B. Dzwonkowski, L.M. Chiaverano, C. Pan, S. Dykstra*, C. Briseño-Avena, R.K. Cowen, and J.D. Wiggert. Contrasting fine-scale distributional patterns of zooplankton driven by the formation of a diatom-dominated thin layer. Limnology and Oceanography. 65(9), 2236-2258. doi: 10.1002/lno.11450.

  • Coogan*, J., B. Dzwonkowski, K. Park and B. Webb. Observations of restratification after a wind mixing event in a shallow highly stratified estuary. Estuaries and Coasts. 43(2) 272-285.

  • 2019

    Lee, J., B. Webb, B. Dzwonkowski, A. Valle-Levinson and J. Lee. Characteristics of exchange flows in a multiple-inlet microtidal-estuary: Mobile Bay, Alabama. Journal of Marine Systems. 191:38-50.

  • Fournier S., J.T. Reager, B. Dzwonkowski, and J. Vazquez-Cuervo. Mapping freshwater origin and fate signatures as land/ocean ‘Regions of Influence’ in the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Geophysical Research 124(7) 4954-4937.

  • Coogan, J., B. Dzwonkowski, and J. Lehrter. Effects of coastal upwelling and downwelling on hydrographic variability and dissolved oxygen in Mobile Bay. Journal of Geophysical Research, 124(2), 791-806.

  • 2018

    Dzwonkowski, B., S. Fournier, J.T. Reager, S. Milroy, K. Park, A. Greer, A. Shiller, I. Soto, S.L. Dykstra, and V. Sanial . Tracking the sea surface salinity and dissolved oxygen on a seasonally stratified shelf, Mississippi Bight, northern Gulf of Mexico. Continental Shelf Research, 169:25-33.

  • Vazquez-Cuervo, J., S. Fournier, B. Dzwonkowski, and J.T. Reager. Intercomparison of in situ and remote sensing products in the Gulf of Mexico, a river-influenced system. Remote Sensing. 10:1590. doi:10.3390/rs10101590.

  • Dzwonkowski, B., S. Fournier, K. Park, S. Dykstra, and J.T. Reager. Water column stability and the role of velocity shear on a seasonally stratified shelf, Mississippi Bight, Northern Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Geophysical Research. 123:5777-5796.

  • Coogan, J. and B. Dzwonkowski . Observations of wind forcing on estuary length and salinity flux in a river-dominated, microtidal estuary, Mobile Bay, AL. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 1787-1802.

  • Du, J., K. Park, J. Shen, B. Dzwonkowski, X. Yu, and B. I. Yoon. Role of baroclinicity on circulation and system flushing of a shallow, highly stratified estuary, Mobile Bay, Alabama. Journal of Geophysical Research. 123:4518-4537.

  • Greer, A.T., A.M. Shiller, E.E. Hofmann, J.D. Wiggert, S.J. Warner, S.M. Parra, C. Pan, J.W. Book, D. Joung, S. Dykstra, J.W. Krause, B. Dzwonkowski, I.M. Soto, M.K. Cambazoglu, A.L. Deary, C. Briseño-Avena, A.D. Boyette, et al. . Functioning of coastal river-dominated ecosystems and implications for oil spill response: From observations to mechanisms and models Oceanography 31(3).

  • 2017.

    Dzwonkowski, B., A. Greer, C. Briseno-Aveno, J. Krause, I. Soto Ramos, F. Hernandez, A. Deary, J. Wiggert, D. Joung, P. Fizpatrick, S. O’Brien*, S. Dykstra*, Y. Lau, M. Cambazoglu, G. Lockridge*, S. Howden, A. Shiller, and W.M. Graham. Estuarine influence on biogeochemical properties of the Alabama shelf during the Fall season. Continental Shelf Research. 140(15), 96-109.

  • Cambazoglu, M.K., I.M. Soto, S.D. Howden, B. Dzwonkowski, P.J. Fitzpatrick, Y. Lau, R.A. Arnone, and G.A. Jacobs . Inflow of shelf waters into Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay estuaries in October 2015. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing. 11(3), 032410 doi:10.117/1.JRS.11.032410.

  • 2016

    Tzeng, M. W., B. Dzwonkowski, and K. Park. Data Processing for a Small-Scale Long-Term Coastal Ocean Observing System Near Mobile Bay, Alabama. Earth and Space Science. doi: 10.1002/2016EA000188

  • Lockridge, G., B. Dzwonkowski, R. Nelson*, and S. Powers. Development of a low-cost Arduino-based sonde for coastal applications. Sensors, 16, 528.

  • 2015

  • 2014

    Dzwonkowski, B., K.-C. Wong, and W.J. Ullman. Sea level and velocity characteristics of a salt marsh tidal channel of the Murderkill Estuary, Delaware,

  • Dzwonkowski, B., K. Park, Lee, J., B. Webb, and A. Valle-Levinson,. Spatial variability in the spring velocity structure on a river -influenced inner shelf in coastal Alabama,

  • 2013

    Lee, J., B.M. Webb, B. Dzwonkowski, K. Park, and A. Valle-Levinson. Bathymetric influences on tidal currents at the entrance to a highly stratified, shallow estuary.

  • 2012

  • 2011

  • 2010

    Dzwonkowski, B., B.L. Lipphardt, J.T. Kohut, X.-H. Yan, and R.W. Garvine. Synoptic measurements of episodic flow events in the central Mid -Atlantic Bight,

  • Dzwonkowski, B. and K. Park. Influence of wind stress and discharge on the mean and seasonal currents on the Alabama shelf of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.

  • 2009

    Wong, K.-C., B. Dzwonkowski, and W.J. Ullman. Temporal and spatial variability of sea level and volume flux in the Murderkill estuary,

  • Dzwonkowski B., J.T. Kohut, and X.H. Yan. Seasonal differences in wind -driven across -shelf forcing and response relationships in the shelf surface layer of the central Mid -Atlantic Bight,

  • Dzwonkowski B., J.T. Kohut, and X.H. Yan. Sub -inertial surface flow field over the shelf of the central Mid -Atlantic Bight,

  • 2005

    Dzwonkowski, B., and X.-H. Yan. Development and application of a neural network based ocean color algorithm in coastal waters,

  • Dzwonkowski, B., and X.-H. Yan. Tracking of a Chesapeake Bay estuarine outflow plume with satellite -based ocean color data,

  • Jo, Y.-H., X.-H. Yan, B. Dzwonkowski, and T.W. Liu. A study of the freshwater discharge from the Amazon River into the tropical Atlantic using multi -senor data,

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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