Lars Bildsten is the director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) and the Gluck Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 1991, where he held a Fannie and John Hertz Graduate Fellowship. Bildsten was at Caltech for three years as the Lee A. DuBridge Research Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics and was an assistant professor and associate professor in both the physics and astronomy departments at the University of California, Berkeley. Moving to Santa Barbara in 1999 as a Permanent Member at the KITP, he held the Rosing, Raab Chair in Theoretical Astrophysics prior to becoming director in 2012.
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. Bildsten was the Salpeter Lecturer at Cornell University, the Biermann Lecturer at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, the Beatrice Tinsley Centennial Visiting Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, the Bishop Lecturer at Columbia University, and the Jesse Greenstein Lecturer at Caltech.
He has served on many international scientific advisory boards, including the Decadal Survey prioritization process for U.S. federal investments in astrophysics for 2010–2020 and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Las Cumbres Observatory.