Short autobiography

I’m basically an Enlightenment person, i.e., I believe in reason, justice, compassion, safety and joy as the major means for — human progress (sic!).

I have an undergraduate and graduate training in chemistry, zoology and paleontology from the University of Stockholm (MSc in paleontology, 1972). My first field of research was molecular phylogeny; I actually published the first cladistic reconstruction of phylogeny based on the primary structure of a protein.

In the mid 1970s, I switched to history and philosophy of science and took my PhD in theory of science (what today is called science studies) at the University of Gothenburg in 1986. I applied Michael Callon’s and John Law’s notion of ‘enrolment’ as a conceptual tool to reonstruct the emergence of ecology as a discipline in a national context.

On the side, I did a lot of work in political sociology and wrote prolifically on the class structure of the knowledge and information society. Read more here.

I did my postdoc work in the late 1980s and early 1990s, partly at Stanford University. Getting access to the huge private archive of Niels Kaj Jerne, one of the major figures in postwar immunology, a wrote an ‘existential’ biography of Jerne, which was published in English, Danish and Japanese. Read more about it here.

After finishing the Jerne biography, I spent a few years writing about biography as a genre, which is distinct from the genre of history. I’m particularly interested in biography as a virtue ethical genre. Read more here.

In 2002 I took up my current job as museum director, and the last ten years I’ve worked hard to change the old Medical History Museum at the University of Copenhagen into a new kind of university museum, focusing on the communication of medical science and technology.

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