Peter Caracappa  

Peter Caracappa

Chief Radiation Safety Officer/Executive Director of RS Programs; Adjunct Professor of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics

(Office) Georgian Building, Room 262
(Mail) 617 West 168th Street
New York NY 10032


Research Interests

Radiation Dosimetry, Medical Health Physics, Monte Carlo Simulation, Radiation Protection

Dr. Caracappa has been a practicing health physicist for nearly 20 years, with more than a dozen of those as the radiation safety officer for broad and diverse programs.  Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Caracappa served as the Radiation Safety Officer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with responsibility for oversight of at a 100 MeV electron accelerator facility and a low-power research reactor, in addition to a comprehensive research program.  He completed his Ph.D. at Rensselaer in 2006, and also became a member of the faculty in Nuclear Engineering, serving as the primary instructor for courses in Nuclear Engineering and Health Physics.  In 2014, he was named the Director of the Reactor Critical Facility, a low-power research and training reactor at RPI.

He also remained engaged in diverse research activities, including computational dosimetry for medical physics applications and development of methods for nuclear reactor benchmark experiments.  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 over 25 peer-reviewed papers or proceedings and 100 conference presentation abstracts on a diverse set of topics.

Dr. Caracappa currently holds an appointment as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Medical Physics Program at Columbia.  He has been certified in the comprehensive practice of health physics by the American Board of Health Physics since 2005.

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.  In 2013 he was awarded the Elda E. Anderson Award from the Health Physics Society for contributions to the health physics as a young professional.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Ph.D., Nuclear Engineering and Sciences, 2004 – 2006    

University at Albany, SUNY
MA, Public Policy, 2001 – 2003     

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute     
MS, Nuclear Engineering, 1998 – 2001     

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
BS, Engineering Physics, 1994 – 1998     

Selected publications:

  • Ding A, Gao Y, Liu H, Caracappa PF, Long DJ, Bolch WE, Liu B, Xu XG. VirtualDose: a software for reporting organ doses from CT for adult and pediatric patients. Physics in Medicine and Biolgy 60(14):5601-5625, 2015.
  • Caracappa PF, Rhodes AM, Feidler DA, Multi-scale voxel phantom modeling: a high resolution eye model for computational dosimetry.  Physics in Medicine and Biology 59:  5261-5275, 2014.
  • Vazquez JA, Caracappa PF, Xu XG. Development of Posture-Specific Computational Phantoms Using Motion Capture Technology and Application to Radiation Dose Reconstruction for the 1999 Tokaimura Nuclear Criticality Accident.  Physics in Medicine and Biology 59: 5277-5286, 2014.
  • 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 155 (1): 64-72, 2013.
  • Caracappa PF, Ding A, Xu XG. Interpolation Method for Calculation of Computed Tomography Dose from Angular Varying Tube Current. Joint International Conference on Supercomputing in Nuclear Applications and Monte Carlo 2013. Paris, France, October 27-31, 2013.
  • 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. Reconstruction of Airborne Activity Concentrations from Radiation Exposure Records. International Meeting on Severe Accident Assessment and Management: Lessons Learned from Fukushima Dai-ichi, 2012.
  • Caracappa, PF. Evaluation of Prospective Dosimetry for Members of the Public Following the Fukushima Accident. International Meeting on Severe Accident Assessment and Management: Lessons Learned from Fukushima Dai-ichi, 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.
  • Liu H, Gu J, Caracappa PF, Xu XG.  Comparison of two types of adult phantoms in terms of organ doses from diagnostic CT procedures.  Phys. Med. Biol. 55:1441-1451, 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.