University of California, Santa BarbaraKavli Institute for Theoretical Physics

Seeking fundamental knowledge at the frontiers of science

The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) brings together diverse groups of physicists and other scientists for timely, intellectually provocative inquiries. Based upon competitive proposals from the worldwide community, programs at the institute encompass the disciplines of particle and nuclear physics, astrophysics and cosmology, condensed-matter physics and atomic and molecular physics, as well as emerging and interdisciplinary fields such as biophysics, neurophysics and mathematical physics. Founded in 1979, KITP became part of the network of Kavli institutes (and took its current name) in 2001.

visit institute website


Lars Bildsten

Director, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics

Mark Bowick

Deputy Director, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics


  • ASTROPHYSICS: Measurement of the universe, discovery of exotic objects such as supernovae and black holes, and testing the laws of physics in extreme conditions of outer space.
  • BIOPHYSICS: Deciphering the human genome, exploring brain functions such as thought and memory, investigating the physics of biological materials.
  • PHYSICS OF MATTER: Exploring the mysteries of ordinary matter, creating revolutionary superconductors, transistors and other materials, revealing new features of the quantum world.
  • HIGH-ENERGY PHYSICS AND GRAVITY: Discovering the building blocks of matter, reconciling quantum mechanics with general relativity, developing theories of physical reality with up to 11 dimensions.
This composite image from the Zwicky Transient Facility shows the supernova called SN2019yvq (the blue dot in the center of the image) in the host galaxy NGC 4441 (large yellow galaxy in the center of the image), which is nearly 140 million light-years away from Earth. This supernova exhibited a rarely observed ultraviolet flash in the days after the star exploded. Credit: ZTF/A. A. Miller (Northwestern University) and D. Goldstein (Caltech) July 23, 2020.

Lessons From Stellar Explosions

How theoretical physicist Lars Bildsten explores supernovae extremes
Read more

At Kavli Institutes around the world, scientists explore the frontiers of science in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.

See all institutes