Charles Bu

Professor of Mathematics

Specialist in initial-boundary value problems for nonlinear partial differential equations.

Born and raised in China, Professor Bu experienced the Cultural Revolution as a teenager and was sent to a tire factory for manual labor for two years. In 1977 China reinstated a college entrance exam for the first time in a decade. About 5.7 million students took the exam and he was among 273,000 admitted. He came to America for graduate study in 1985, joined the Wellesley faculty in 1992, received tenure in 1998 and was promoted to full professor in 2005. Professor Bu served as Chair of the Mathematics Department in 2005-09, Chair of Wellesley College's Board of Admissions in 2012-13, and held the William R. Kenan Jr. Chair Professorship in 2015-19.
Author of 35 research articles, Professor Bu is one of the leading experts in inhomogeneous boundary value problems for nonlinear Schroedinger and Ginzburg-Landau equations. These equations have significant applications in physics, biology and economics. Since 1992, he has worked with many Wellesley students and published several co-authored research articles with them. All of Professor Bu's summer research students have continued on to graduate studies in mathematics and related fields after Wellesley.
Since 1992, Professor Bu has taught courses in single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, topics in applied mathematics, introductory statistics, mathematical tools for economics and finance, elements and topics in analysis.
Professor Bu has written extensively and given many talks in China to further understanding between the American and Chinese people, to promote American values and to strengthen Wellesley's historic ties to China. Since 2001, he has been a board member of Bingxin (’26) Research Society and Bingxin Literature Museum in Fuzhou, China. Professor Bu is committed to advancing the interests of Asian-Americans and has written for The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Herald and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
An enthusiast of world travel, Professor Bu has been to Japan, S. Korea, Mongolia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, U.A.E., United Kingdom, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Aruba, Virgin Islands, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile and New Zealand. At some point, he would love to visit Africa and Antarctica. Professor Bu has flown more than 2 million flight miles (that is roughly 100 trips round the world). He has lifetime Gold status with United Airlines and lifetime Platinum status with Marriott Bonvoy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching sports (a huge fan of TB12 the GOAT), photography and listening to classical and contemporary music.


  • B.S., Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • M.S., Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • M.S., Michigan State University
  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign