Astrophysicist Appointed to Endowed Chair at Institute for Theoretical Physics
By EILEEN CONRAD
ASTROPHYSICIST LARS BILDSTEN, a permanent member of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, has been awarded the Wayne Rosing, Simon and Diana Raab Chair in Theoretical Astrophysics in recognition of his pioneering contributions to the discipline.
The endowed chair was established recently with a combined $1 million gift from the donors. As a result, The Kavli Foundation expanded its endowment support for the world-renowned physics research center with a $1 million matching contribution.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang expressed his sincere gratitude to the benefactors for their extraordinary commitment to the future of scientific excellence. “The Wayne Rosing, Simon and Diana Raab Chair will advance research and discovery at the endless frontier of theoretical astrophysics, continuously and richly expanding our understanding of the universe,” said Yang. “Once again, UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustee Fred Kavli has demonstrated his overwhelming generosity by providing permanent resources for world-leading scientific and educational programming at the institute that is named in his honor.”
Nobel Prize winner David Gross, director of the KITP, said, “This marvelous gift from our friends in the community is greatly appreciated. Together with the matching funds from The Kavli Foundation, it will help us advance the growth of theoretical astrophysics at the institute. I am especially pleased that the first occupant of this endowed chair is to be Lars Bildsten, not just because of his path-breaking research and eminence in the field of astrophysics, but also because of the essential leadership he has provided at the KITP and at UCSB.”
Bildsten, who specializes in stellar astrophysics, joined the UC Santa Barbara faculty in 1999, where he is a professor of physics. He holds a doctorate in theoretical physics from Cornell University. Previously, he was a member of both the physics and astronomy departments at UC Berkeley and the Lee A. DuBridge Research Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics at Caltech.
Among his prestigious awards is the Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society for fundamental work on stellar structure, including nuclear burning on neutron stars, the role of neutron stars as gravity wave sources, and the theory of lithium depletion.
Bildsten said he was humbled and deeply grateful to Wayne Rosing, Simon and Diana Raab, and to UCSB for the honor. “This endowed chair will allow me to rapidly engage in new opportunities as they arise in astrophysics, education, and outreach,” he said. “It is a privilege to have the flexibility to start scientific endeavors in advance of where a field is moving, and use the new ideas to bring people together.”
His research is presently focused on understanding the many ways in which stars die and how they manifest themselves to observers. This includes the theoretical study of many different physical phenoma.