University of Texas
Carlos Antonio Cajas-Vidaurre
March 25, 1949–



Carlos Antonio Cajas-Vidaurre


Carlos Cajas-Vidaurre was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala on the March 25, 1949 To Carlos P. Cajas and Teresa de Jesus Vidaurre. His father was an accountant and his mother a housewife. Carlos was the second of six children. His siblings were Maria del Carmen, a nurse; Silvia, a psychologist; Telma, a mathematics teacher; Marina, a psychologist; and Maria Teresa, an accountant. Carlos has fifteen nephews and nieces.

Carlos attended kindergarten, elementary school and high school in Guatemala City. Among these were several private as well as state schools schools. He graduated from the prestigious Colegio San José de Los Infantes in 1966.

He began his university studies at San Carlos State University where he studied Civil Engineering for two years. He learned that the Universidad del Valle had recently opened Science Programs. Since there was no separate physics department or physics degree at San Carlos University at that time, he transferred to Del Valle University into their Physics Program. Carlos writes, "In 1969 as part of starting Physics at Del Valle U. I got a 2/3 scholarship at Del Valle U. and a job as grader in the Department of Physics and Mathematics in the School of Medicine at San Carlos. But due to not having enough physics professors and the resignation of several of them, mainly due to students' complaints, I was promoted to Lecturer. I held that position until 1971 when Prof. Jorge Antillon asked me to work as a part time professor at the School of High School Teachers at San Carlos, EFPEM (Escuela de Formación de Profesores de Enseñanza Media de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.)."

He completed his physics courses in 1971, and a mathematics courses in 1972. Following completion of his undergraduate thesis work in 1973, he became the first undergraduate student to complete a physics degree in Guatemala.

In 1973, he applied for a LASPAU (Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities) scholarship to attend an American university's graduate program in physics. He requested and was granted a leave of absence from EFPEM. He wished to obtain a master´s degree. He was awarded the scholarship and was admited to the University of Texas graduate physics program. In preparation for his studies he enrolled in an English Training Program during the summer of 1973. He started classes in the fall semester, however he broke his leg (femur) in June and attendant health problems required that he return to Guatemala in December of 1973.

Following his recovery, Carlos enrolled in Del Valle University and earned a masters of science in physics education in 1977. During 1974-1978, Carlos worked in the School of Pharmacy of San Carlos teaching a physics course for chemical students. In 1976, Carlos also got a part time position in the School of Engineering at San Carlos in the Department of Physics as a Professor of Physics. At San Carlos he helped to create the physics program, and when it was approved there wasn´t a budget for professors, so he taught several courses ad-honorem (mainly intermediate mechanics and electricity/magnetism. )

In January of 1979, Carlos returned to the University of Texas to study for a PhD in physics. He was award the PhD in 1984, His diissertation was supervised by Professor Jack Swift. His thesis was entitled, "Uniaxial to Biaxial Phase Transition in Nematic Liquid Crystals." The dissertation was published as "Critical dynamics near the uniaxial-to-biaxial phase transition in nematic liquid crystals", by Carlos A. Cajas, Jack B. Swift, and Helmut R. Brand, Phys. Rev. A 30, 1579(R) – Published 1 September 1984. Abstract: "The critical dynamics in the vicinity of the uniaxial-biaxial phase transition in nematics is investigated. We present arguments that the critical dynamics corresponds to model A—i.e., a non-conserved order parameter not coupled to other relevant variables—although the order parameter ξ is coupled to the velocity and there are many cross-coupling terms between the uniaxial nematic director → n and ξ . Therefore, the transport parameters are not expected to show any singularities at the transition, a prediction which can be tested experimentally."

At UT Carlos worked as an Assistant Instructor teaching the Physical Science courses created by Professor R. N. Little.

Despite being on leave from San Carlos during his PhD work, Carlos found, upon returning to Guatemala in 1984, that his position at EFPEM was cancelled. However in 1985, he applied for the position of Director of the Physics Department at EFPEM and held that post until his retirement in 1997. Besides working at San Carlos, he also worked in private universities in Guatemala:

1974-1978 and also 1984-1985 Del Valle University teaching several Physics and Math courses for the Physics programs;

1978 Francisco Marroquin University teaching Physics for the School of Architecture

1979-1984 Physics graduate program, University of Texas at Austin. Awarded PhD in 1986 

 Carlos among the Texas bluebonnets. Austin, Texas. 


1984-1986 and also 1992-1996 and also 1999-2000 Francisco Marroquin University School of Engineering teaching several courses of Physics and Mathematics. He gave a course at the XIX CURCCAF (Curso Centroamericano y del Caribe de Física)(1985). He was also an invited speaker at National Autonomous University of Honduras.

In 1991, Carlos was invited to give a colloquium in the Physics and Astronomy department at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

In 1994, Carlos was Profesor Adjunto de IPLAC (Instituto Pedagogico Latinoamericano y Caribeño, La Habana, Cuba.

After retiring from San Carlos U. in 1997, Carlos continued teaching one course per semester in the Department of Physics of the School of Engineering ad-honorem. He continued this until San Carlos closed classes due to Covid19 in March of 2020. He plans to continue this after classes resume.

2001-2002 Galileo University teaching several courses of Mathematics.

2004-2011 Rafael Landivar University School of Engineering teaching several courses of Physics, Mechanics and Math. During his time at UT, he worked as an Assistant Instructor teaching the courses of Physical Science (1979-1984)

Among students that Carlos directed are:

Marco Antonio Huertas Chacón, thesis entitiled, "The development of the Uniquac equation according to the lattice model of liquids", 1995.
Lic. Erick Estuardo Hernández García, thesis entitled, "Use of nuclear fission reactors for neutron physics research", 1993.

Carlos is a member of the following organizations and societies:

In 2007, a physics laboratory was named for him at Escuela de Formación de Profesores de Enseñanza Media at University of San Carlos. In 2009, Aula Virtual (Virtual Classroom) of the Physics Department in the School of Engineering at San Carlos was named after Carlos and Ingeniero Cesar Fernandez (2009)

Here we see the II Central American Physics Olympiad (2012) opening ceremony in the Ing.César Fernández and Dr. Carlos Cajas Virtual Classroom. Ing. Fernandez is presiding.


^Back to Top^