Charles Branch Wilson (1861-1941) was born in Exeter, Maine. He received his A.B. and A.M. degrees from Colby College, Waterville, Maine, and the Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1910. While completing his A.M., Wilson worked as a tutor in Botany at Colby. In 1891, he was appointed Professor of Science at the State Normal School, Gorham, Maine. He became Professor of Natural Science at the State Normal School, Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1896 and the following year was made Professor of Biology and the Head of the Science Department. Wilson held the positions at Westfield until his retirement in 1932.
Wilson participated in several biological field trips during his career. He spent the summer of 1897 working at the Johns Hopkins University marine laboratory at Port Antonio, Jamaica. During the summer of 1899, Wilson worked at the United States Fish Commission's laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he undertook the investigation of parasitic copepods found in common foodfish. This began a long association between Wilson and the Fish Commission and its successor, the United States Bureau of Fisheries. Other work under the auspices of the Bureau of Fisheries included an economic survey of Lake Maxinkuckee, Indiana, in 1906; a survey of the fresh water mussels indigenous to the Mississippi River, 1907; and economic surveys of the Maumee River in 1908, the Kankakee River in 1909, and the Cumberland River in 1911. In 1912, he made a similar survey of the lakes of northern Minnesota. From 1913 to 1923, he served as an economic investigator for the Bureau of Fisheries at Fairport, Iowa. Wilson assisted in an economic survey of Lake Erie for New York State during 1928 and 1929.
Wilson's main zoological interest was the study of free swimming and parasitic copepods. His association with the United States National Museum (USNM) began in February 1901 when the entire USNM collection of parasitic copepods was turned over to him for identification. In recognition of his work on the USNM collections, Wilson was made Honorary Collaborator in Copepoda in 1933. His bibliography numbered more than 85 titles, with three of his major works being published posthumously. His most important work concerned the copepods collected by the Carnegie Institution's non-magnetic yacht, Carnegie, in 1928 and 1929. The study, for the first time in the history of oceanography, gave the directly comparable results of simultaneous three-level tows made in all oceans with identical gear, accompanied by full station data, including temperature, salinity, density, phosphates and hydrogen ion concentration.