Lars Bildsten

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Lars Bildsten (born 1964) is an American astrophysicist, best known for his work on the physics of white dwarfs and their explosions as Type Ia supernovae. He is the sixth director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and a professor in the UCSB Physics Department.


Bildsten's undergraduate degree is in engineering physics, from Ohio State University.[1] Bildsten was a Hertz Foundation fellow and received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Cornell University in 1991.[2] He was then a research fellow at Caltech for three years, after which he accepted a faculty appointment at the University of California, Berkeley. Rising from assistant to associate professor, in both the physics and astronomy departments, he moved to UCSB in 1999.[3] In 2010, he was awarded the Wayne Rosing, Simon and Diana Raab chair in theoretical astrophysics. He was named director of the Kavli Institute, succeeding David Gross, in 2012.[4]

In addition to his university teaching and research, Bildsten has devoted significant effort to strengthening science and engineering education in grades 7-12. A member of the board of directors of Santa Barbara's Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation, he worked to raise $3 million in funding for a dedicated facility and to support math tutors.[5]


Bildsten received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 1995. In 1998, the Research Corporation designated him as a Cottrell Scholar. He was awarded the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society in 1999[6] and the 2017 Dannie Heineman Prize.[7] His invited lectureships include the 2000 Edwin Salpeter Lecture at Cornell, and the 2004 Biermann Lecture at the Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics.[3] He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.[8]


  1. ^ Caltech, 2003-2004 GALCIT Fluids Seminar, "Lars Bildsten" Archived 2010-07-31 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Bildsten, L. (1991). Destruction and excitation of accreted nuclei in neutron star atmospheres: Gamma ray lines and X ray bursts (PhD). Cornell University. Bibcode:1991PhDT.........7B.
  3. ^ a b Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, "Lars Bildsten Biographical Sketch"
  4. ^ Kavli Foundation, "Astrophysicist Lars Bildsten Appointed to Endowed Chair at Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics"
  5. ^ American Physical Society, "Lars Bildsten, Candidate for Chair-Elect, Nominating Committee"
  6. ^ "Lars Bildsten received the 1999 Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.", Physics Today, 52: Q67, 1999, Bibcode:1999PhT....52Q..67., doi:10.1063/1.2802802
  7. ^ "AAS Announces Recipients of 2017 Prizes and Awards". American Astronomical Society. January 9, 2017.
  8. ^