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Nicolaas Rupke Edit Profile

Science history educator

Nicolaas Rupke, Dutch, American science history educator. Fellow St. Peter's College, Oxford, 1974-1977, Wolfson College, Oxford, 1977-1981, Humboldt Stiftung, Federal Republic Germany, 1981-1983; honorary fellow University College, London, 1983-1987. Fellow German Academy of Sciences, Goettingen Academy of Sciences.


Rupke, Nicolaas was born on January 22, 1944 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Son of Christiaan and Pieternella H. (van den Heuvel) Rupke.


Bachelor of Science, Groningen University, 1968. Master of Arts, Princeton University, 1970. Doctor of Philosophy, Princeton University, 1972.


Early in his studies, Rupke was a Christian and proponent of Flood geology, but later came to reject this position. When in 1977 he was elected to a Wolfson College, Oxford research position in the history of science, Rupke made this subject his full-time occupation. A series of similar international research posts followed, until in 1993 he took up a professorship at Göttingen University to teach the history of science and medicine.

In 2009, Rupke was awarded a Lower Saxony research chair. In 2012, he took up an endowed professorship at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, USA. Rupke is known for his studies of late-modern biology, geology and science & religion. With an interest in the biographical approach, he restored to their contemporary prominence several nineteenth-century scientists, most important among them Richard Owen who well before the appearance of The Origin of Species developed a naturalistic theory of evolution, albeit a non-Darwinian one.

Studies of Alexander von Humboldt came next, in which Rupke developed what he terms the metabiographical approach by exploring how a famous life – in this case Humboldt's – may be multiply retold and reconstructed as part of different belief systems and memory cultures. Rupke is a fellow of Germany's National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences.



German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Göttingen Academy of Sciences.


  • Other Interests

    Avocations: painting, palmistry.


Christiaan van

Pieternella H. (van