Charles Tillburg

Charles Edward Tilburg, Ph.D.

Academic Director of School of Marine and Environmental Programs

Director of Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center

Professor of Marine Sciences


University of New England Marine Science Center Marine Science Center 207
Biddeford Campus
Eligible for Student Opportunities

Dr. Charles Tilburg is the Academic Director of the School of Marine & Environmental 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

Post-Doctoral Training, College of Marine Studies
University of Delaware (Newark,DE )


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.

Selected publications

Robinson, A. R., M. Esty, and C. E. Tilburg, A Compact GPS Surface Drifter with LoRa Telemetry and Self-Contained Tracking System, Marine Technology Society Journal, 55 (1), pp. 88-105, 2021.

Slater, M. A., P. A. Morgan, C. E. Tilburg, and S. E Travis, Environmental variables, not Allee effects, drive patch vigor in exotic Phragmites australis stands invading the Saco River Estuary, Maine, USA, Aquatic Botany,, 2017.

Hillman, S. J., S. I. Zeeman, C. E. Tilburg, and H. E. List, My Attitudes Toward Science (MATS): The development of a multi-dimensional instrument measuring students’ science attitudes, Learning Environments Research, 19 (2), pp. 203-219, 2016. 

Yund, P. O., C. E. Tilburg, and M. A. McCartney, Across-shelf distribution of blue mussel larvae in the northern Gulf of Maine: Consequences for population connectivity and a species range boundary, Royal Society Open Science, 2, 150513., 2015.

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.

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.

Research topics

Biological Oceanography
Climate Change
Physical Oceanography