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 many books on historic scientific figures. 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.
William Buckland, The Great Chain of History (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983)
Richard Owen (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1984)
Vivisection in Historical Perspective (1987)
Science, Politics and the Public Good (1988)
Ideas and Ideologies (1994)
Medical Geography in Historical Perspective (2000)
Alexander von Humboldt: a Metabiography (Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2005; Chicago University Press, 2008)
Eminent Lives in Twentieth-Century Science and Religion (2007)