St. Mary's University 1 Camino Santa MariaSan Antonio, TX 78228 +1-210-436-3011 St. Mary's Universitylogo William Joseph Chaminade St. Mary's University, Texas
The Catholic and Marianist University

Richard Cardenas, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Physics and Environmental Sciences  | Professor of Physics




  • Ph.D., Texas Tech University, 2001
  • M.S., Columbia University, 1990
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley, 1988


Richard Cardenas, Ph.D., joined the physics faculty of St. Mary’s University in the fall of 2000. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics and applied mathematics, and his master’s degree in applied physics. After earning his master’s degree, he worked in industry for Lockheed Technical Operations Company (now called Lockheed Martin Technical Operations) and Incyte Genomics.

He has published papers in journals including the American Journal of Physics, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Neuroradiology. He has also presented his findings at conferences in Texas and Pennsylvania, among others. Cardenas’ grants and contracts include the following:

National Science Foundation S-STEM Grant ($600,000). Title: St. Mary’s University STEM Scholars Program

Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) awarded in 2011

Department of Defense Instrumentation Program for Hispanic Institutions ($200,000). Title: Creating an Biophysical Characterizations Laboratory for Education and Research

Physics on the Road, the World Year of Physics Grant for Outreach ($10,000). Title: The Fiesta of Physics (With Olga Lobban)

San Antonio Area Foundation, Grant for Education and Outreach ($5,600). Title: The Fiesta of Physics (With Olga Lobban)

DoD Instrumentation Program for Hispanic Institutions ($192,738). Title: Acquisition of advanced scientific instrumentation for multi-disciplinary research training and education

Research Interests

Cardenas has research interests in biophysics, medical physics and physics pedagogy. His main research area involves the study of the effects of radiation on aqueous polymer gel systems and their uses in radiation dosimetry. These aqueous polymer gels are tissue-like, hence are useful tools for modeling radiation response of various types of tissue.

In addition to the polymer gel studies, he has done research in physics pedagogy in collaboration with Texas Tech University and Harvard University using the force concept inventory.

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