Larry Zanko's research focus areas include mineral waste characterization, transportation infrastructure (construction aggregates and pavements), and beneficial use of mineral-based byproducts generated by mining and other industrial activities, with an eye on their potential for value-added product development and innovative technology uses, and consideration of their potential environmental impact. Much of this research focuses on the integration of iron ore (taconite) mining materials and mineral byproducts into pavements and pavement repair technologies, focusing on how they fit into a sustainable pavement infrastructure.
He is a senior research program manager for the NRRI's Minerals and Metallurgy Research Group. He has worked in the minerals field for all of his professional career. Since his start with NRRI in 1988, he has led or participated in numerous research projects related to the entire spectrum of Minnesota's mineral resource types (ferrous, non-ferrous, and industrial).
Zanko regularly interacts and collaborates with public and private sector professionals and academicians in the geological, minerals, transportation, and environmental fields, inside and outside Minnesota. He holds bachelor's degrees in geological engineering and microbiology and a master's degree in geological engineering from the University of Minnesota.