Lars Bildsten is a theoretical astrophysicist recognized for his work on the properties and behaviors of stars, both when they are burning their thermonuclear fuel for billions of years and when they explode as supernova or emit gravitational waves. Bildsten was born and raised in southern Ohio, completing his B.S. in Engineering Physics from Ohio State University in 1985. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 1991, where he held a Fannie and John Hertz Graduate Fellowship. Dr. Bildsten was at Caltech for three years as the Lee A. DuBridge Research Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics and was an assistant and associate professor in both the Physics and Astronomy departments at University of California, Berkeley. Moving to Santa Barbara in 1999 as a Permanent Member at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), he held the Rosing, Raab Chair in Theoretical Astrophysics prior to becoming KITP Director in 2012. He is presently the Frederick W. Gluck Chair in Theoretical Physics and serves on the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Las Cumbres Observatory. Among his awards are the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Cottrell Scholar of the Research Corporation, the Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society and the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics.

Research Interests

Dr. Bildsten's research spans the fields of stellar astrophysics, gravitational wave phenomena, and observational astrophysics. His current efforts are focused on theoretical puzzles raised by the remarkable observational progress in time-domain astrophysics; from exploding stars observed in distant galaxies to unusual binaries or pulsating and variable stars found in our own galaxy. His current efforts are focused on the variability from stars much more massive than the sun, both before they explode as a supernovae, and after they are blown apart by energy released from their collapsed core. His early efforts focused on the physics of accreting white dwarfs, with a special focus on the thermonuclear instabilities that lead to explosions on them, including the remarkable Type Ia supernovae. The constant thread in his research for the last decade has been the development and use of the open source stellar structure and evolution computational code, Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA). Available to the international astrophysics community, this ``instrument" for calculation and theoretical exploration has enabled many scientists to become engaged in stellar astrophysics at this time of observational renaissance. He is also avidly engaged in the observational field of time domain astronomy via his long-standing collaborative efforts with the world-wide Las Cumbres Observatory and the Zwicky Transient Facility at Palomar.

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Primary Section

Section 12: Astronomy

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics