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Charles Edward Tilburg

Dr. Charles Tilburg is the Director of the School of Marine Programs, Director of the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center, and a Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of New England. He received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Texas and a PhD in Oceanography from Florida State University. He has twenty years of research and teaching experience in physical oceanography, numerical modeling, and bio-physical coupling of marine systems. He has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and received more than three million dollars in research funding. Charles taught in the marine science departments of the University of Georgia and the University of New England before becoming Director of the School of Marine Programs. 


PhD in Oceanography

Florida State University


MS in Environmental Engineering

University of Texas


BS in Aerospace Engineering

University of Texas


Post-Doctoral Training

College of Marine Studies

University of Delaware



Physical oceanography

numerical modeling

coastal oceanography

larval transport

river plume dynamics

Global climate change


Current Research

I am the Principal Investigator on a NASA sponsored project to examine water quality in the Saco River. I am also a co-Principal Investigator on the Saco River Coastal Observing System which examines the physical factors that influence the Saco River plume, transport in the region, and salinity fluctuations. I am co-Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored project to examine the transport of blue mussel larvae in the Gulf of Maine and a GK-12 NSF project to improve the communication skills of graduate students.

Research Interests

The circulation of estuaries and the coastal ocean. I am particularly interested in climate change and the physical factors that govern the distribution of river plumes, the transport of crab, fish, and mussel larvae, and across-shelf transport on the continental shelf. My work involves a combination of field observations, remote-sensing techniques, and numerical modeling.

Selected Publications

Tilburg, C. E., L. M. Jordan, A. E. Carlson, S. I. Zeeman, and P. O. Yund, The effects of precipitation, river discharge, land use and coastal circulation on water quality in coastal Maine, Royal Society Open Science, 2, 140429., 2015.  

Bloodsworth, K. H., C. E. Tilburg, and P. O. Yund, Influence of a river plume on the distribution of Brachyuran crab and Mytilid bivalve larvae in Saco Bay, Maine, Estuaries and Coasts, doi: 10.1007/s12237-015-9951-5, 2015.

Cohen, J. H., C. K. Hanson, A. I. Dittel, D. C. Miller and C. E. Tilburg, The ontogeny of larval swimming behavior in the crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus: implications for larval transport, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 462, 20-28, 2015.

Hillman, S. J., K. H. Bloodsworth, C. E. Tilburg, S. I. Zeeman, and H. E. List, K-12 Students’ Perception of Scientists:  Finding a valid measurement and exploring whether exposure to scientists make an impact, International Journal of Science Education, doi: 10.1080/09500693.2014.908264 2014.

Tilburg, C. E., M. A. McCartney, and P. O. Yund, Across-shelf transport of bivalve larvae:  Can the interface between a coastal current and inshore waters act as an ecological barrier to larval dispersal?, PLoS ONE, 7(11): e48960. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048960, 2012.

Tilburg, C. E., A. I. Dittel, D. C. Miller, and C. E. Epifanio, Transport and retention of the mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) in a Mid-Atlantic estuary: Predictions from a larval transport model, Journal of Marine Research, 69, 137-165, 2011a.

Tilburg, C. E., S. Gill, S. I. Zeeman, A. Carlson, T. Arienti, J. Eickhorst, and P. O. Yund, Characteristics of a shallow river plume: Observations from the Saco River Coastal Observing System, Estuaries and Coasts, 34, 785-799, 2011.

Tilburg, C. E., J. Seay, T. D. Bishop, H. L. Miller III, and C. Meile, Distribution and retention of Petrolisthes armatus in a coastal plain estuary: the role of vertical movement in larval transport, Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science, 88, 260-266, 2010.

Bishop, T. D., H. L. Miller III, R. L. Walker, D. H. Hurley, T. Menken, and C. E. Tilburg, Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896) settlement at three Georgia (USA) estuarine sites, Estuaries and Coasts, 33, 688-698, 2010.

Houghton, R. W., R. Chant, A. Rice, and C. E. Tilburg, Salt flux into coastal river plumes: Dye studies in the Delaware and Hudson River outflow, Journal of Marine Research, 67, 731-756, 2009.

Wargo, A. M., C. E. Tilburg, W.B. Driggers, and J. A. Sulikowski, Effect of a freshwater plume on icthyoplankton distribution off the coast of southern Maine, Northeastern Naturalist, 16, 647-654, 2009.

Tilburg, C. E., A. I. Dittel, and C. E. Epifanio, High concentrations of crab larvae along the offshore edge of a coastal current:  Effects of convergent circulation, Fisheries Oceanography, 18, 135-146, 2009.

Funded Grants

2011: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration _ Delaware Sea Grant Program, Invasion of the mitten crab in the Mid-Atlantic: Characterizing larval behavior to predict population responses to environmental change, $130k, 2 years.

2010: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration _ Delaware Sea Grant Program, Invasion of the mitten crab in the Mid-Atlantic: Characterizing larval behavior to predict responses to climate change, $63k, 1 year.

2010: National Science Foundation _ Biological Oceanography Program, Collaborative Research: Does larval transport or physiological tolerance set the southern range boundary of a northern blue mussel? $431k, 3 years.

2009: National Science Foundation _ Biological Oceanography Program _ Research Opportunity Award Physical processes influencing variability in abundance of Calanus finmarchicus in the Gulf of Maine, $25k, 1 year.

2009: National Science Foundation _ GK-12 Program The Interactions of Biology, Chemistry and Physics at the Land-Ocean Interface: A Systemic PARTnership Aimed at Connecting University and School (SPARTACUS), $2.8M, 5 years.

2009: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Influence of climate change on regional hydrology and public health, $94k, 2 years.

Research Topics

Charles Tillburg

Charles Edward Tilburg



Director of School of Marine Programs

Director of Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center

Professor of Marine Sciences

Biddeford Campus

Marine Science Center 207

(207) 602-2422

On Campus