Nicolaas A. Rupke
Professor of the History of Science
and Director
Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Georg-August-Universität Goettingen
Papendiek 16
D-37073 Goettingen
Nicolaas Rupke's research interests are in the history of late-modern biological and physical sciences, particularly those of Germany and Great Britain. He favours the biographical approach and is the author of books on William Buckland, The Great Chain of History (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983), Richard Owen (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1984) and Humboldt, Alexander von Humboldt: a Metabiography (Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2005; Chicago University Press, 2008). Moreover, Rupke is the editor of various volumes that come under the heading "science and society", Vivisection in Historical Perspective (1987), Science, Politics and the Public Good (1988), Ideas and Ideologies (1994), Medical Geography in Historical Perspective (2000), and Eminent Lives in Twentieth-Century Science and Religion (2007). His many articles and reviews have appeared in a range of scholarly journals. Current research is on Goettingen scientific biography, including a study of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.

Rupke was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and received his formal education in the earth sciences with a BSc from Groningen (1968) and a PhD from Princeton (1972), specializing in marine geology. Among his scientific publications are a Smithsonian Contribution to the Earth Sciences, Distinctive Properties of Turbiditic and Hemipelagic Mud Layers (Washington, DC, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974), the chapter on "Deep clastic seas" in Sedimentary Environments and Facies (Oxford, Blackwell, 1978), as well as various articles in leading earth sciences journals.

Rupke's research has been supported by fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Oxford, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, the National Humanities Center, and the ANU's Institute of Advanced Studies. During 1994-97, he was Director of the Goettingen Institute for the History of Medicine, and the following year inaugurated the Nelson O. Tyrone Chair in the History Department at Vanderbilt University. Upon his return to Göttingen he took over as Director of the Institute for the History of Science. He has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Geological Society of London, the Royal Historical Society, the German Academy of Science Leopoldina and the Göttingen Academy of Science. 


Book cover with the last oil portrait of Humboldt from 1859, showing him against his favourite backdrop of Chimborazo.
Nicolaas Rupke
Alexander von Humboldt:
a Metabiography

«A magisterial piece of research, clearly written, logically organized and flowing naturally from one epoch to the next.» (James R. Moore, Cambridge and Open University)

«A great and pioneering book, offering a brilliant synthesis of the core appropriation of Alexander von Humboldt in Germany from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present.» (Michael Zeuske, Cologne)
Amerindian Research 2/2006, p. 54;  here
Nature (18 Mai 2006), p. 286; PDF-file (183 KB) here
THES (28 June 2006), p. 24; JPG-file (225 KB) here
Annals of Science vol. 63.4 (Oct. 2006). p. 516-17; JPG-file (200 KB) here 
History and Philosphy of the Life Sciences vol. 28.3 (2006), p. 436-38 JPG-file (300 KB) here 
Auto/Biography vol. 14.4 (2006), p. 396-98 JPG-file (300 KB) here
The British Journal for the History of Science vol. 40 (2007), p. 293-94 PDF-file (35 KB) here 
INHIGEO (= International commission on the History of Geological Sciences) Newsletter No. 39 for 2006 (issued in 2007), p. 47-9  here
Isis 98.1 (2007), p. 203-4 here
Geografiska Annaler Series B 89.4 (2007), p. 406-7 here
BIOS - Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral History und Lebensverlaufsanalysen vol. 20.1 (2007), p. 157-8 here
Archives of Natural History vol. 34 (April 2007), p. 200 here             
History Australia vol. 5.1 (2008), p. 241-243 here
Forest History Today Fall 2008, p. 69        
Progress in Human Geography vol. 31(1) [2007], esp. p. 69; PDF-file (150 KB) here
Revista de História e Estudos Culturais vol. 4(3) [2007], esp. p.13-14; PDF-file (180 KB) here

HiN 12 (2006)
Humboldtkosmos no. 87 (July 2006), p. 34-9; JPG-files (6 x ca. 120 KB) here
History and Theory no. 46 (Febr. 2007), p. 94-95; PDF-file (60 KB) here
Second edition
A corrected editon of Alexander von Humboldt: a Metabiography is available in paperback from Chicago University Press.
May 2008