Zbigniew J. Kabala

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Born and raised behind the Iron Curtain, Dr. Zbigniew J. Kabala is a naturalized United States citizen who cherishes the freedoms and opportunities granted by this country. He earned his master's degree in civil engineering in 1980 from Poznan Polytechnic in Poznan, Poland, and master's degree in mathematics in 1982 from A. Mickiewicz University in Poznan. At Princeton University, he earned another master's and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering and operations research in 1985 and 1988, respectively. Next, Dr. Kabala held one-year postdoctoral appointments at the MIT in the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory and at the UC-Berkeley in the Department of Soil Science. He was then appointed an assistant professor of hydrology in the Department of Soils and Environmental Sciences at the UC-Riverside. He joined the Duke faculty in the summer of 1994.

Dr. Kabala teaches currently the following courses: Fluid Mechanics, Advanced Fluid Mechanics, and Groundwater Hydrology. He enjoys his interactions with students in and outside of class. He has served as a faculty in residence (FIR) in Southgate, Giles, and West House dormitories for a number of years. Dr. Kabala also works with Pioneer Academics to mentor high school students from around the world and recruit some of them to Duke. He is an avid member of Toastmasters International and a sponsor of the PRATTically Speaking Toastmasters club in PRATT School of Engineering, where he hones his public speaking skills and helps students and postdocs do the same.

Dr. Kabala follows politics with great passion and occasionally writes about it. In his free time, he enjoys racquet and water sports, hiking, reading, and listening to jazz.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Contact Information

  • Office Location: Ciemas 2467, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: +1 919 660 5479
  • Email Address: zbigniew.kabala@duke.edu


  • M.S. Poznan Polytechnic (Poland), 1980
  • M.S. Princeton University, 1982
  • Ph.D. Princeton University, 1988

Research Interests

Dr. Kabala's principal research interests cover stochastic and deterministic theory of fluid flow and contaminant transport in saturated and unsaturated heterogeneous porous media, theory of related measurements, field and laboratory studies in subsurface hydrology, stochastic fields and processes, numerical and analytical methods and sensitivity analysis. His current research focuses on developing new measurement techniques for characterization of porous media, recovering contaminant release histories from current plume observations, and stochastic modeling of water and solute transport in saturated and unsaturated heterogeneous formations.

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Earl I. Brown II Outstanding Civil Engineering Faculty Award. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. 2005
  • Top 8 Most Downloaded Article. Advances in Water Resources. 2001

Courses Taught

  • CEE 690: Advanced Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 683: Groundwater Hydrology and Contaminant Transport
  • CEE 301L: Fluid Mechanics

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Ma, E., and Z. J. Kabala. “Refereeing the Sport of Squash with a Machine Learning System.” Machine Learning and Knowledge Extraction 6, no. 1 (March 1, 2024): 506–53. https://doi.org/10.3390/make6010025.
  • Cao, E., and Z. J. Kabala. “Impact of Crustacean Morphology on Metachronal Propulsion: A Numerical Study.” Fluids 9, no. 1 (January 1, 2024). https://doi.org/10.3390/fluids9010002.
  • Young, August H., Nico Hotz, Brian T. Hawkins, and Zbigniew J. Kabala. “Inducing Deep Sweeps and Vortex Ejections on Patterned Membrane Surfaces to Mitigate Surface Fouling.” Membranes 14, no. 1 (January 2024): 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes14010021.
  • Su, Y., and Z. J. Kabala. “Public Perception of ChatGPT and Transfer Learning for Tweets Sentiment Analysis Using Wolfram Mathematica.” Data 8, no. 12 (December 1, 2023). https://doi.org/10.3390/data8120180.
  • Hu, A. V., and Z. J. Kabala. “Predicting and Reconstructing Aerosol–Cloud–Precipitation Interactions with Physics-Informed Neural Networks.” Atmosphere 14, no. 12 (December 1, 2023). https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14121798.