Coastal and estuarine turbulent mixing processes and their interactions with topographic features.
Pawlak’s research in environmental hydrodynamics is focused on coastal and estuarine turbulent mixing processes and their interactions with topographic features. He is particularly interested in the role of flow structure in mass and momentum transport as well as the generation of this structure by topography. Interactions occur via a variety of mechanisms including boundary layer separation and hydraulic flow response. His work presently focuses on dynamics of steady and oscillating flow over irregular boundaries as well as on the generation and evolution of large scale structure in stratified flow around coastal headlands. The influence of these boundary dynamics on sediment transport and on sediment-water column geochemical exchange processes is also of key interest. Other areas of interest include effects of offshore forcing on near-shore dynamics, cross-shore exchange processes, the interaction of flow with biological systems, stratified turbulence, autonomous vehicle applications and laboratory experimental methods.
Before joining the Jacobs School of Engineering, Pawlak served as an associate professor in the Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Pawlak is a UC San Diego alumnus, having earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Applied Mechanics and Engineering Sciences (now mechanical and aerospace engineering) here in 1997.