Carl Bender

Konneker Distinguished Professor of Physics
PhD, Harvard University
AM, Harvard University
AB, Cornell University
research interests:
  • Theoretical & Mathematical Physics

contact info:

mailing address:

  • CB 1105
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

Professor Bender's scholarly expertise is in mathematical physics and applied mathematics. He is recognized as an expert on the subject of asymptotic analysis, differential equations, and perterbative methods and their use in solving problems of theoretical physics.

Carl Bender applies the tools of applied mathematics to solve problems in mathematical physics. His past work includes (i) pioneering research on the anharmonic oscillator and studies of coupling-constant analyticity; (ii) development of the field of perturbation theory in large order, (iii) strong-coupling, finite-element, and mean-field approximations in quantum field theory, (iv) development of the field of PT-symmetric quantum mechanics. He has served as the coach at Washington University for the Putnam Mathematical Competition for many years.


Professional History

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1969-1970
Assistant Professor, M.I.T., 1970-1973
Associate Professor, M.I.T., 1973-1977
Visiting Fellow, Imperial College, London, 1974
Visiting Professor, Imperial College, London, 1986-1987
Visiting Professor, Technion, Haifa, Israel, fall term, 1995
Visiting Professor, Imperial College, London, 1995-1996
Visiting Professor, Imperial College, London, 2003-2004
Professor of Physics, Washington University, 1977 to present
Scientific Consultant, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1979-present
Visiting Professor, Mathematics Department, Imperial College, London, 2006-2011
Joint Professor of Physics, University of Heidelberg, 2008-2012
Visiting Professor, King's College, London, 2011 to present
International Professor of Physics, University of Heidelberg, 2012-present
Visiting Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, City University London, 2013-2015

Recent Courses

Theoretical Physics (Physics 501)

The first part of a two-semester course reviewing the mathematical methods essential for the study of physics. Theory of functions of a complex variable, residue theory; review of ordinary differential equations; introduction to partial differential equations; integral transforms.

    Advanced Math Methods for Physicists & Engineers (Physics 503)

    The first semester of a two semester course presenting an organized approach to solving hard problems approximately; a self contained and general examination of asymptotics and perturbation theory; local and global analysis of differential and difference equations, summation methods, Pade theory, asymptotic expansion of integrals; emphasis calculational rather than theoretical. Continued in Physics 504.


      Sloan Foundation Fellowship, 1972-1977
      Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award, 1985
      M.I.T. Graduate Student Council Teaching Award, 1976
      Washington University Gargoyle Award (Undergraduate Teaching Award) 1983
      Fulbright Fellowship to United Kingdom, 1995-1996
      Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (UK) Fellowship, 1996
      Lady Davis Fellowship to Israel, 1995-1996
      Rockefeller Foundation Award to Visit Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Italy, 1999
      Graduate Student Council Mentoring Award, 2000
      Fellows Award, Academy of Science of St. Louis, 2002
      Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK) Fellowship, 2003-2004
      John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2003-2004
      Ulam Fellowship, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2006-2007
      Compton Faculty Achievement Award, Washington University, 2007
      Wilfred R. and Ann Lee Konneker Distinguished Professor of Physics, 2007
      Leverhulme Foundation (UK) Fellowship, 2011-2012
      Associate Member, Higgs Centre, University of Edinburgh, 2012-present
      International Travel Grant, Royal Society, U.K. (with Prof. S. Sarkar), 2012-2014
      Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, 2017


      Professional Societies

      American Physical Society (Elected a Fellow, 1978)
      Academy of Science of St. Louis (Elected a Fellow, 2002)
      Institute of Physics, UK (Elected a Fellow, 2004)



      Turbulence: Saturday Morning Seminar Series, 2008