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Prof. Dr.

Nicolaas A. Rupke

Year of election: 2001
Section: History of Science and Medicine
City: Göttingen
Country: Germany
CV Nicolaas A. Rupke - English (pdf)


Nicolaas Rupke is noted for his contributions to nineteenth-century history of the earth and life sciences. He has highlighted the importance of the institutional and socio-political context for an historical understanding of the natural sciences, using the powerful contextualising tool of scientific biography in studies of the Oxford clergyman-geologist William Buckland and the London biologist and founder of the Natural History Museum Richard Owen.

Since 1997 he has been director of the Göttingen Institute for the History of Science where he has developed the metabiographical approach in the study of scientific lives, focusing on the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt. Metabiography contextualizes not just scientists, but also the historians who write about them. Rupke’s current interests concern the Göttingen anthropologist and biomedical scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.


  • since 2012 Johnson Professor in the College, Washington & Lee University, USA
  • 2009-2012 Lower Saxony Research Professor of the History of Science, Göttingen University, Germany
  • 1997-2009 Professor and Director, History of Science, Göttingen University, Germany
  • 1993-1997 Professor and Director, History of Medicine, Göttingen University, Germany
  • 2002-2003 Hannah Visiting Professor, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria, Canada
  • 1997-1998 Nelson O. Tyrone Jr. Professor of the History of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, USA
  • 1989-1993 Senior Fellow, History of Ideas Program, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University
  • 1991-1993 Acting Director, History of Ideas Program, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University
  • 1988-1989 Research Fellow, National Humanities Center, North Carolina, USA
  • 1983-1987 Research Fellow, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, UK
  • 1985 Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, Wassenaar, Netherlands
  • 1981-1983 Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, Tübingen University, Germany
  • 1973-1981 Post-Doctoral Fellow / Junior Research Fellow / Research Fellow, Oxford University, UK
  • 1972-1973 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA
  • 1972 Ph.D., Princeton University, USA
  • 1970 M.A., Princeton University, USA
  • 1968 B.Sc., Groningen University, Netherlands


  • 2010-2012 Project leader of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, Langzeitvorhaben of the Union of German Academies "Blumenbach-online", Germany


  • 2001-2005 President of the German Society for the History and Theory of Biology

Honours and Memberships

  • since 2005 Fellow of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, Germany
  • since 2001 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina




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