Zielinski's Ph.D. research focused on blocking the movement of common carp using acoustic (sound) deterrents – a bubble curtain system that he designed and evaluated. In addition, he developed mathematical models of anomalous transport phenomena (non-local diffusion). Zielinski combined these two seemingly distinct parts of his research to evaluate the barrier system's performance and describe fish behavior near the behavioral deterrent system.
Zielinski's research reflects his interest in developing solutions to environmental and water resources issues using quantitative and empirical tools. After his undergraduate years, he worked as a water resources engineer at Ayres Associates, a civil engineering firm in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he designed and inspected hydraulic structures. At Ayres, Zielinski became interested in applying computer modeling towards water resources issues, such as fish passage.
“It was this burgeoning curiosity that prompted my renewed pursuit of graduate school,” he says.
Having a child with a hearing impairment influenced his interest in using acoustic deterrents, such as bubble curtains, to block fish invasion. His child's hearing impairment “gave me a new perspective on the environmental soundscape and its influence on animal behavior," says Zielinski.
Zielinski was attracted to the University of Minnesota because of its strong reputation in civil engineering, access to the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, and his familiarity with its facilities. The benefits package available to graduate students, which allowed him to support his wife and two children while he finished school, also played a significant role in his decision to attend UMN.
In addition, Zielinski appreciated having intellectual freedom during his graduate education.
“Having access to courses and researchers outside of my own expertise was crucial to my success, since my research interests spread across numerous academic fields,” he says. Zielinski’s academic advisers, Dr. Voller and Dr. Hondzo, “gave me the necessary independence to develop my own research approach and interests while providing the critical guidance I needed to overcome any difficulties.”
Currently, Zielinski is continuing his Ph.D. research on acoustic deterrents for controlling invasive carp while working as a post-doctoral associate with Dr. Peter Sorensen at the newly formed Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), located on the St. Paul campus. He plans on staying in academia and hopes to continue his research interests as a professor.
-- Lyra Fontaine