Peter F Caracappa

Lecturer, Mechanical Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering

Dr. Caracappa has over 10 years of experience as the primary instructor for courses in Nuclear Engineering and Health Physics, including diverse subjects such as radiation detection and instrumentation, health physics, nuclear physics, and laboratory experimentation. He has been an active participant in undergraduate research opportunities and department-wide capstone design projects. As part of his research activities, Dr. Caracappa has been a member of the Rensselaer Radiation Measurement and Dosimetry Group (RRMDG), led by Professor X. George Xu, since 1999. His research has included development and application of computational dosimetry models and methods to refine or improve dose calculation in operational, industrial, and medical applications. He is responsible for significant contributions to the development of tools to improve the quantification, tracking, and management of radiation dose from Computed Tomography examination, one of the largest contributors to medical radiation exposure. He has authored or co-authored 14 peer-reviewed papers or proceedings and over 60 conference presentation abstracts on a diverse set of topics. Dr. Caracappa is also a practicing health physicist, and has over ten years of experience serving as the Radiation Safety Officer for broad-scope academic licenses for the use of radioactive materials, as well as seven years supervising the health physics for a research, training, and test reactor licensed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He has experience in a broad array of operational health physics areas, including laboratory scale biological research, high-energy electron accelerators, and low-power research reactors. He is a Certified Health Physicist by the American Board of Health Physics. Following the nuclear accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi in March 2011, Dr. Caracappa appeared regularly in media coverage regarding the extent and impact of the radiological releases from the plant. He was sought after because he demonstrated the ability to communicate the information available and its implications in a fair, level-headed, and understandable manner. He appeared in the coverage of media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, AP, Reuters, NPR’s Morning Edition, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, and PBS NewsHour. He was recognized by the American Nuclear Society for his contributions to the response to the Fukushima Accident.


Ph.D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Research Focus
  • Radiation Dosimetry
  • Medical Health Physics
  • Monte Carlo Simulation
  • Radiation Protection
  • Computed Tomography
Select Works
  • Gu J, Xu XG, Caracappa PF, Liu B. Fetal Doses to Pregnant Patients from CT With Tube Current Modulation Calculated Using Monte Carlo Simulations and Realistic Phantoms. Radiation Protection Dosimetry (accepted)
  • Ding A, Mille M, Liu T, Caracappa PF, Xu XG. Extension of RPI-adult male and female computational phantoms to obese patients and a Monte Carlo study of the effect on CT imaging dose. Phys. Med. Biol. 57(9): 2441-2459, 2012.
  • Caracappa PF, Xu XG, Gu J. Modeling Of Tube Current Modulation Methods In Computed Tomography Dose Calculations For Adult And Pregnant Patients. Proceedings of the International Conference on Mathematics and Computational Methods applied to Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2011.
  • Na YH, Zhang B, Zhang J, Caracappa PF, Xu XG. Deformable adult human phantoms for radiation protection dosimetry: anthropometric data representing size distributions of adult worker populations and software algorithms. Phys. Med. Biol. 55:3789-3811, 2010.
  • Zhang JY, Na YH, Caracappa PF, Xu XG. RPI-AM and RPI-AF, a pair of mesh-based, size-adjustable adult male and female computational phantoms using ICRP-89 parameters and their calculations for organ doses from monoenergetic photon beams. Phys. Med. Biol. 54:5885-5908, 2009.
  • Gu J, Bednarz B, Caracappa PF, Xu XG. The development, validation and application of a multi-detector CT (MDCT) scanner model for assessing organ doses to the pregnant patient and her fetus using Monte Carlo methods. Phys. Med. Biol. 54:2699-2717, 2009
  • Caracappa PF, Chao TC, Xu XG. A Study Of Predicted Bone Marrow Distribution On Calculated Marrow Dose From External Radiation Exposures Using Two Sets Of Image Data For The Same Individual. Health Phys. 96(6):661– 674; 2009.